Agri intelligence

Organic Matter Management to
Improve Seedbeds

Morley Farms manager, David Jones set out a clear ‘ideal field’ specification for Seedbed Management Day delegates, before explaining ways he is trying to increase the resilience of his 750 ha at Wynmondham with extra organic matter to move towards this.

The Ideal Field

  • Good water infiltration.
  • Good water holding capacity.
  • Good holding and cycling capacity of nutrients.
  • Lack of slumping and erosion risk.
  • Good support for machinery.
  • Reliable seed germination environment.
  • Less effort required to cultivate.
  • Less wear on machinery.

“Our soil type may be fixed, but there’s a lot we can do to change the 50% or so of its bulk that’s water, air and organic matter,” he pointed out. “Although a long-term field trial at Morley has shown 25 years of incorporating straw may only increase the organic matter content by 0.2%, it has demonstrated this can bring about a highly encouraging35% increase in microbial activity and a 10% reduction in penetration resistance.

“We’re routinely spreading turkey muck ahead of OSR these days. Quite apart from its other benefits, at £8/ha it’s well-priced NPK. At the same time, we’ve got straw for muck arrangements with local cattle and pig farmers which add value to our crop residues.”

Following positive trials showing yield increases and soil structural improvements from cover crops, especially with shallow cultivations, David Jones is also experimenting with mustard and vetch and autumn peas and volunteer barley sprayed off and incorporated ahead of sugar beet.

“I strongly believe we need to be looking at halting the decline in our soil’s heart by adding organic matter wherever we can in the rotation,” he said.

For more information, please contact:

David Langton at david.langton@agrii.co.uk or Andrew Richards at andrew.richards@agrii.co.uk