Soil is a major area of our farm advice work. Too much of it entering the rivers has a detrimental effect on their ecology and is a problem that has increased in the past few decades (see here on the effects of too much soil entering rivers).

We work to keep soil out of rivers and on the land.

Soil Structure

The first step for us is to assess structure. Compaction of soil can lead to increased risk of runoff as well as a negative impact on yields. Worm numbers give a good indication of soil health so our advisers pay as much attention to the stock below the ground as above!

Organic matter

The next step is to assess organic matter levels, especially in fields identified as potentially problematic. If fields that are naturally high risk for runoff also have poor soil management, the results for both the farm and the rivers can be devastating.

By assessing structure, organic matter and nutrient levels in these fields, we can determine whether this risk is likely to be realised or is already being mitigated by good management practices.

Where poor soil health is identified, pragmatic suggestions to the farmer can be made. This could include advice on how to re-build depleted organic matter levels with cover crops or shifting to rotational grazing techniques to avoid compaction of grassland.


Further reading from Scotland's Farm Advisory Service:

Soil Sampling II - Benefits to your business