Northern Ireland farmers have been invited to learn more about healthy soils at the next AHDB Monitor Farm meeting.

Independent soil consultant Philip Wright will lead the session, demonstrating a range of soil tests farmers can use to assess their own soil health, and discussing the implications of different cultivation methods on the soil.

Farmer Richard Orr hosts the AHDB Monitor Farm project in Downpatrick.

The meeting starts at Bright Community Hall, 74 Ballynoe Road, Downpatrick at 10:30am on Tuesday, March 5, but will mostly be out in the fields at Meadow Farm.

Orr said: “I feel soil is our most important asset. It’s something we can damage very quickly but it takes a long time to repair back to a stable, profitable state.”

Wright will demonstrate practical soil tests, such as infiltration rates, soil density and organic matter analysis, which farmers can then do on their own fields.

Michelle Nuttall, AHDB knowledge exchange manager for Northern Ireland, said: “Creating and maintaining a good soil structure relies on knowledgeable and careful management.

This meeting aims to make farmers question the operations they routinely undertake so to ensure they benefit soil structures, crop establishment and gross margins.

Soil physics, chemistry and biology are interlinked and all play a role in maintaining productive agricultural systems. Healthy soils are crucial for healthy crops.

Richard added: “Having a good soil analysis is vital before you even start going into your field. When you’re out doing your soil analysis, take a spade and dig holes to see what you’ve got.

To attend the meeting, contact Michelle Nuttall on: [email protected].