Farmers urged to test soil ahead of new standard

Farmers across the UK are being urged to test soil and establish a baseline that will help improve soil health ahead of a new 2022 standard.

The Arable Soil Standard was issued in June 2021 as part of the government’s Environmental Land Management (ELM) and Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) plans.

To best prepare for the new standard, farmers should test soil more regularly to identify organic matter content before adding inputs or adjusting their rotation, suggests Eurofins Agro managing director, Daniel Robinson.

The new standards will be more easily achieved if farmers accurately analyse their soil before making changes to the rotation or farming methods. Understanding the soil status at the start of the process, the baselines, helps to provide the data needed to take the correct actions.

“Our tests provide chemical, physical, and biological insight, offering farmers a better way to monitor, manage and improve the health and fertility of their soil ahead of these new land management targets,” Robinson said.

“This includes the chemical values of macro and micronutrients. Detailed organic matter and carbon fractions, as well as the overall structure of the soil, are also analysed in conjunction with biological components such as fungi and bacteria,” he added.

Using soil test results

The microbial biomass from the sample will help farmers to understand the sensitivity of the soil to conventional farming methods such as ploughing.

The number and nature of the bacteria present in a soil sample will also facilitate the accurate calculation of what nutrients need to be added to the soil to optimise plant health and growth.

“This will help make difficult decisions in autumn, such as choosing cultivation methods, or deciding whether to plant cover crops,” suggested Robinson.