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Biochar, biocompost, and zero-till saving your soil and your wallet


Soil is a farms greatest asset, and with fertiliser prices on an upward climb, new ideas are on the horizon to improve its health and productivity.

Thats why Farming Futures is running a FREE workshop on soil fertility on 11th November. The event will be held at Loddington Farm, home of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust.

90% of the worlds food is grown in soil, but fertile soil covers only 11% of our land surface. In order to feed our growing population in a sustainable way, we will need to find new ways of preserving and enhancing soil fertility. Healthy soils mean better yields and greater fertiliser efficiency making and saving you money too.

Nitrogen use has already exceeded safe levels some scientists argue that we need to reduce N fixation by 75% to bring us back to safer levels for the earth to support.

Nitrogen is not the only issue phosphorous is a limited resource and we may be faced with a shortage in the next few decades. Professor Brian Chambers, a leading soil scientist, believes that more than 50% of the UK’s total phosphate requirement could come from organic sources saving the agricultural industry 20-30m a year.

The Farming Futures workshop will explore the latest science behind soil nutrient cycling, provide practical demonstrations of what farmers could be doing differently on their farm and sound out some ideas that could soon be common practice. Speakers will include Keith Goulding from Rothamsted Research, Matt Taylor from Adas and Alastair Leake from the UK Soil Management Initiative.

Presentations, farm walks and discussion groups will tackle soil biology, zero-till cultivations, managing tramlines, biochar, settlement ponds, and much more.

Topic: Fertilising your soil: mud, myths and marvellous solutions

Date: 11th November 2010

Time: 0900-1530

Venue: Loddington Farm, Main Street, Loddington, Leicestershire, LE7 9XE

Madeleine Lewis, from Farming Futures, said, Farming has become a key political issue as climate change and food security challenge us to rethink how we produce our food. Improving soil fertility will be crucial in this new world exciting new ideas like biochar, biocompost and zero-till could make UK farmers world leaders in sustainable and profitable practices. This free workshop will give you the chance to see field trials of these new techniques, and discuss and debate the issues with leading researchers and practitioners.

Alastair Leake from the UK Soil Management Initiative said, Work the top few centimetres with skill, rather than the whole profile with horsepower and farmers will start to reap the benefits in both reduced fuel use and better yields. Ultimately, the quality of the crop above is dependent upon the health of the soil beneath.

About Farming Futures

In February 2010, one in three farmers surveyed in England as part of the Farming Futures project said they were already affected by climate change and half expect to be affected in the next 10 years. 48% of surveyed farmers said they were taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their farm.

Farming Futures provides inspiration and information for farmers and land managers via fact sheets, case studies and practical, on-farm events. See for more information.

Farming Futures is an industry-led collaborative project between Forum for the Future, NFU, CLA, AIC, AHDB (on behalf of the agricultural and horticultural levy boards), FWAG LEAF, and Defra to communicate practical action on climate change. Farming Futures is funded by Defras Farming for the Future Programme and Act on CO2 until March 2011

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