Soil Carbon Farmer Workshop
The event was well attended, with lots of great discussions around soil carbon and soil health. We were lucky to be joined by Dr. Jenni Dungait, a leading soil health and carbon expert, who gave a talk “Cashing in on Carbon” on her research into soil carbon and carbon credit payments to farmers.
We then heard from Becky Willson, project lead for the Soil Carbon Project, who summarised the results of Year 1 of the project. The majority of samples were above the recommended 3% organic matter (OM) level, with the average result at 9.16% (dropping to 7.7% once the peaty fenland soils were removed from the dataset). These results were separated into different field types; with permanent pasture had the highest OM% and arable the lowest. Soil carbon yield (in tonnes/hectare) was also investigated, with permanent pasture also having the highest carbon stocks and arable the lowest. Results for the proxy tests (e.g. worm counts, soil structure, infiltration and aggregate stability) were also shown. A detailed summary of the results (to date) can be found here.
Will Razey from Rothamsted Research North Wyke presented their work on in-field variations in organic matter as part of the Soil Carbon Project. Will explained that some fields will have greater variation in organic matter and so should be sampled differently to fields with less variation, North Wyke are therefore looking at the best way to sample these fields. Will’s presentation, including a step-by-step breakdown of his sampling procedure, can be found here.
The afternoon involved more detailed discussions around three main topics, with the aim of influencing Year 2 of the project:
1. Field sampling methods – it was generally agreed that although it is important that farmers get out and sample their fields to increase their knowledge of the soil, it would be useful to have independent advisors complete the sampling in order to have consistency across farms.
2. Proxy measures – we talked about which proxy measures are the most valuable and whether more should be introduced, the main takeaway from this is that more frequent sampling should occur to reduce the impact of seasonal variations
3. Soil reports – most people suggested that the tests needed better explanation and the project team will act on this by producing a sample guide with more detailed explanations of the tests.
A more detailed summary of this event is available to read here.
Thank you to everyone who came along and contributed, we will be holding more events in the future for anyone who couldn’t make this one.