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WORD ON THE GROUND: Healthy soils are our most valuable asset

Exponents of climate change have long since emphasised weather
extremes resulting in wetter winters. If the last two are anything to go by, that’s coming about.

With this, soil degradation is becoming so much more noticeable. In this area, on our relativity flat fields, this results in soil structure collapse and running together and sealing, preventing drainage and causing formation of pools and ponding and with hills it results in extensive soil run-off.

This results in reduced natural aeration of the soil, starving out worms and microbial development vital to sustainable soil health.

Tony Gent.
Tony Gent.

Ironically, this seems to be so much more noticeable on what we have historically thought of as the best quality soils that are now very intensely over cultivated with high powered machinery and plastered with chemicals that decimate natural predators and destroy the natural chain of biology.

Is this the same indication of mistreating our most valuable worldly asset – the soil. This happened with the US mid-west dust bow and taught the lesson that intensively moving soil around in a way that flies in the face of the way soil has evolved over millions of years is wrong.

Our farm soil, now with several years of no inversion tillage, has redeveloped masses of worms and all manner of biology. Ponding is very much reduced to extreme areas that are becoming less extensive as structure improves, and much of the surface water quickly recedes with little or no damage to the soil or crop.

Analysis has shown organic matter carbon levels have improved and virtually doubled in many areas to. No unnecessary moving of the soil, less chemical input due to predator build up and artificial fertiliser with improving organic matter result in much less cost. All allow a much more sustainable economic mix of
autumn/spring rotation mixed with cover, forage, silage grass and energy cropping. The Brexit implementation debacle continues with vast new extensive red tape for general trading, fishermen, farmer/livestock/export/labour, Northern Ireland. All it seems, completely thrown under a bus and ignored with masses of cost and no gains.

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