The results of the 'Soil My Undies' trial to assess soil health will be the highlight of the next North Ayrshire Monitor Farm meeting on Wednesday (August 15).

A deeper look at soil profile and improving drainage will be the main topics of discussion at the meeting, which will be held at Girtridge Farm, Dundonald.

Five members of the community group have buried their underpants in a range of soils on their own farms, with other attendees looking forward to seeing how they have fared.

Originating in Canada, this test is a popular way for farmers to get an indication of how healthy their soils are.

The microbial activity of the soil, an indicator of soil health, can be visually assessed in the simple practical experiment. The more distressed the undies; the more soil activity there is.

[caption id="attachment_276673" align="aligncenter" width="728"] Example of a completed Soil My Undies experiment. Image source: AHDB[/caption]

Drainage specialist Gavin Elrick from SAC Consulting will give an overview of the practical aspects of drainage repairs and maintenance in the field and outline the specification and costs of new drainage systems.

Using host monitor farmer, John Howie’s wettest field, Elrick will explore options and costs to make it more productive.

Howie runs the 140ha Girtridge Farm in partnership with his mother Margaret and his sister Mary. They also own an additional 35ha of grazing nearby.

As well as the 200 bought-in cattle that they finish, the Howies also run 240 breeding ewes.

Wet fields

“I am really looking forward to discussing the results of the Soil My Undies trial and also hearing the insights of Gavin Elrick,” he said.

“It has been a very challenging year here in the south-west of Scotland with extremely dry weather following a very wet spring when ineffective field drainage systems hindered access to land and reduced pasture utilisation.

“Hopefully Gavin will provide an insight into how we can manage and improve our wet fields so we can maximise grass production in the future.”

At the meeting, which is free and open to all farmers, David Kerr from ScotEID will also demonstrate the technologies available and the potential benefits of EID in cattle management.

Mr Howie has tagged cattle with both frequencies of EID tags - low frequency and Ultra High Frequency – and Mr Kerr will demonstrate read ranges of tags.

Malcolm Young from SAC Consulting will also attend the meeting to discuss woodland opportunities at Girtridge.

The North Ayrshire Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established across Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds, with funding from the Scottish Government.

The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.