Knowing your soil type and how it behaves when worked will help you provide optimal conditions on your farm.
Very light soils
- Very weakly structured, can slump down over winter
- Leave cultivations until just before drilling
- Plough to loosen the top 20cm of soil
- Use appropriate consolidation to preserve moisture and reduce erosion
- Have an unstable structure, especially if low in organic matter content
- Limit cultivations to avoid creating a fine seedbed which may settle into a compacted state during heavy rain and result in surface ponding and runoff.
- Ploughing may be needed to break up compaction, creating a vicious circle
- Where damage has occurred, consider importing large quantities of an organic material (but don’t break NVZ rules on total organic matter loadings).
- Have few limitations and are easy to cultivate
- Soil structure tends to be weak and damage will occur in wet conditions
- More susceptible to plough pans
- Have a stable soil structure but a narrow window for optimum cultivation, often too wet or too dry to work
- Well suited to shallow cultivation, but the first pass must be shallow enough to avoid bringing up large clods
- Cultivations should be kept to a minimum to reduce moisture loss. Use a furrow press or roll after each cultivation to retain soil moisture
Source: Think Soils, the Environment Agency
To read about a farmer who is using soil properties to help him manage his farm, please click here.