Soil health under the microscope at Better Grazing meetings

The subject of soil health will be the focus of the next round of Quality Meat Scotland Better Grazing meetings to be held over the coming weeks.

The series of free meetings will explain how soil health influences grass growth, as well as describing the essential soil nutrients and options for livestock to improve soil structure.

The meetings will be held in Inverurie, Inverness, Lockerbie, Melrose and Perth and will also demonstrate and discuss the different methods available to analyse soils, both chemical and biological.

Joel Williams from Integrated Soils will be the key speaker at the meetings. Williams is an independent plant and soil health specialist who hails originally from Australia but is now splitting his time between Canada and the UK.

He has been lecturing and teaching farmers around the world for the past 15 years and currently advises a number of producers in the UK.

“Cattle and sheep farmers need to produce the best quality grazing they can, and productive pastures start with a healthy, fertile soil,” said Williams.

There is more to soil than the chemical and physical aspects. Having a healthy, living soil with active soil biology can improve production, reduce input costs and mitigate of some of the environmental impacts of production.

“It is, therefore, a vital part of a livestock farmer’s system.”

At the meetings, Williams will explain the fundamentals of soil health – including the interactions between biology, nutrient cycling, plant diversity and grazing management.

He will also share the results of analysis of a range of soils collected from local farms and provide guidance to help farmers interpret, identify and rectify potential imbalances in the soil on their own farms.

Emily Grant, knowledge transfer specialist with QMS, said: “I’m delighted that we have Joel coming to speak. Soil organisms play an important but complex role in our soils, and we are seeing increasing interest in understanding the benefits soil biology brings.

“Joel is a soils enthusiast and engaging presenter and has a great reputation for being able to take the complex issues around soils and explain them in an easily understandable way.

I would urge farmers to attend and gain a little more insight into how our soils work, and how to make the most of them to provide us with high-quality pasture and livestock.

Now into its second year, the main objective of the QMS Better Grazing Groups is to improve livestock producers’ profitability through the better use of grazed grass.

The “Better Grazing” meetings will be held on the following dates:

  • Monday, December 10 – Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, AB51 5XZ;
  • Tuesday, December 11 – Jury’s Inn, Millburn Road, Inverness, IV2 3TR;
  • Wednesday, December 12 – Dryfesdale Hotel, Dryfesdale, Lockerbie, DG11 2SF;
  • Thursday, December 13 – Melrose Rugby Club, Melrose, TD6 9SA;
  • Friday, December 14 – Battleby Centre, Redgorton, Perth, PH1 3EW.

All meetings will begin at 10:30am and finish at 3:30pm. Attendance at these workshops is free and lunch will be provided.

Places at these meetings can be reserved on the Eventbrite booking website or by contacting QMS direct on: 0131-510-7920; or: emailing [email protected]