66% of most soils deficient in key nutrients – NRM

NRM has published its annual soil summary report for 2020-2021, with consolidated data from thousands of soil samples across the UK.

Results show that two thirds of most soils are deficient in the key nutrients of phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, continuing a trend of almost 30 years.

NRM has been gathering soil analysis data since 1995. This year’s soil summary includes data from soil samples collected between June 2020 and May 2021, allowing farmers and their advisors to understand current nutrients status across the UK, to benchmark against other farms with up-to-date data, and to consider how to improve soil health to optimise crop production.

For the first time, NRM has also published consolidated data on soil carbon, following the launch earlier this year of its CarbonCheck service.

Almost 1500 farms sampled

With almost 1500 farms sampled to date, early analysis of the data supports the idea that different types of farms and different soil management practices influence the amount of organic carbon within the soil.

“We’re using our summarised data to help farmers and their advisors understand more about soil carbon and which farming practices build carbon levels,” said Alli Grundy, Agronomy Manager at NRM.

There is not only a productivity benefit to improving soil organic carbon, but also an environmental benefit.

“We will continue to add to the data as we sample more farms, which will enable us to paint an accurate picture of the soil carbon landscape across the country over time.”

CarbonCheck

Developed by NRM following consultation with industry experts, agronomists, and government advisors, CarbonCheck measures organic carbon as part of a comprehensive analysis suite, providing a benchmark for carbon markets and enabling farmers to monitor their soil health.

‘There are some fascinating trends already, and these truly demonstrate the importance of measuring soil carbon levels,’ she continued.

“For example, cultivated land generally contains lower carbon stocks and less organic matter because of the introduction of air into the soil as it is moved.”