Soil & Water Management Centre

Developing & improving your soils

Measure to manage

It is commonly recognised that you need to measure something before you can manage it. This is particularly true for soil, but unlike many other physical assets, it is amazingly diverse and often defies our attempts to define its properties. Welcome therefore is Väderstad's 2016 update on two of its excellent booklets, namely "Visual Soil Assessment" and "Target on Establishment".

These are now available in electronic format and are provided free to view on line or to download from the links provided below.
The Visual Soil Assessment booklet provides, as its title suggests, a means of visually asssessing one's soils through standard processes. These processes result in a score and ranking of 8 quality indicators, all of which have excellent photographs to aid with the assessments. When added together, an overall ranking is provided, in the categories, "Poor", "Moderate" and "Good".

There are a further 7 indicators focussing on plant quality with the same rankings, that together with the soil indicators, provide a robust assessment of the overall quality of your soil. This will provide a baseline from which to work and assessments can be carried out again, perhaps in 5 years time, to determine how well any particular management strategy has worked.

The Target on Establishment booklet is an even more comprehensive document, taking in not only soil aspects, but much about the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which although likely to change for the UK in its Brexit vote, will still apply across large areas of Europe, albeit with country by country interpretation. In addition, the booklet includes notes on soil care, with tyre or track choice, subsoiling and drainage also being covered. The effects of climate change and cultivation management with comprehensive sections on drills, agronomy, weed management and fertility round off the main thrust of the document. The booklet however concludes with a section on Precision Farming. Overall, these two booklets provide a comprehensive and excellent background to the management of soils of a thoroughly independent nature.

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