Good Soil Guide

CONTENTS

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Sustainable Landscapes

Sustainable Landscapes is a collaborative, landscape-based programme initiated by Future Food Solutions in partnership with Yorkshire Water. Working closely with farmers located in sensitive catchment areas within the agricultural heart of the UK, the programme aims to develop practical, cost-effective, sustainable farming practices that safeguard food and water quality, environmental integrity and natural capital, creating a more resilient, responsive, sustainable agricultural industry.

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Sustainability and resilience

Modern farming practices are feeding a expanding world population, but have major environmental implications that affect soil health, water quality and food security.

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Farming, food quality and soil health

Early in 2019 the British Medical Association reported that food production was threatening the planet, and food consumption was the biggest single risk to human health. 

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Farming and climate change

A changing climate presents major challenges to food and water security. Sustainable soil management can have a major impact on climate change mitigation. 

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Supply chain integration                     

Achieving significant sustainability gains at farm level can deliver major benefits to the entire supply chain and are vital to meeting the global imperative of Zero Carbon Food.

Soil Fundamentals

Soil is a complex mix of physical, chemical and biological factors, that combine to provide us with the foundation for all our farming systems, safeguarding food security and environmental integrity. Understanding the fundamentals of these vital soil processes can help to explain why, and how, soil management influences sustainability.

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Texture and Structure

Sand, silt, clay and organic matter define soil texture, and the implications this has on soil structure, aggregate formation, water holding, root development and cultivation.

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Water and nutrients

Healthy, active plant growth requires access to over forty nutrients, and large volumes of water. Soil structure, organic matter and biological activity regulate this supply.

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Carbon and soil biology

Carbon is the glue that holds soil together, regulating air, water and nutrient movement. Beneficial microbes convert Carbon into healthy, fertile, resilient soil.

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Analysis and precision soils                        

What, when, and why to measure soil factors that affect plant health and performance. How to interpret the numbers.

Soil Management in Practice

There are probably as many ideas surrounding soil management as there are farmers. No two fields ever behave in the same way, and no two years are alike. Add in the demands of sustainable food production and the uncertainty of political, economic and environmental change, and making the right decision can seem daunting.  

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Sustainable soils

The quality of agricultural soils around the world has been in steady decline for decades, slowly degrading our ability to produce food. Regenerating soil is a global imperative.

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Cultivations and cover crops

Explore the effects of cultivation on soil and sustainability, and the impact that cover cropping has on soil, water and food quality, building resilience into farming.

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Sustainable rotations, integrating livestock

Balancing short-term gains and long-term benefits while maintaining profitability across the entire rotation, including the role of livestock, grass and rotational forage.

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Adapting agronomy, monitoring progress

The transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture often requires changing agronomic practices, benchmarking, gathering data and monitoring progress.

Making it Pay

Implementing any new management practice is not without its costs or challenges. The transition to sustainable farming, and the ultimate prize of Zero Carbon Food, must be associated with appropriate levels of support, incentive and reward, for every link in an environmentally responsible supply chain.

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Challenges and benefits

Getting prepared, learning from pioneers, bridging knowledge gaps and managing expectations. Savings and gains.

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Building resilience

Adopting sustainable soil management practices can build practical, financial, agronomic and environmental resilience in to farming activities.

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Farming Carbon

The environmental impact of producing food is considerable, but reducing Carbon Footprint is just the beginning. The aim is Zero Carbon Food.

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Eco-System Services

Healthy soils are vital to the farmed landscape and its ability to deliver clean air, clean water, quality food and much-valued natural capital.

Information Exchange

A wide range of additional resources are made available to farmers participating in the Sustainable Landscapes programme. Farmers are encouraged to assess soils, collect field data and complete questionnaires about sustainability and Carbon, all of which are then used to benchmark existing farm practice, indicate were improvements can be gained, and monitor progress.

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Farmer to Farmer

Updates on field walks, farm visits, conferences, study tours and farm-focused field events with leading industry experts - the "Master Class" events. 

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Farm and field assessments

Interactive on-line forms for generating a Sustainability Index and Farm Carbon Balance values, and in-field assessments of soil structure, cover crops, earthworms. 

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Analysis and interpretation

Making best use of soil analysis, conductivity scanning, soil health tests, cover crop assessments, yield maps, crop scanning, remote sensing and digital data platforms.

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Benchmarking

Metrics for soil health, cover crops, Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Sustainability and Farm Carbon Balance can be used to benchmark farms within the Landscapes programme.

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Sponsors

The Good Soil Guide is designed as a platform for discussion, innovation and technical support for farmers seeking to adopt regenerative, sustainable, environmentally positive soil management practices, and has been made possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors.  

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Disclaimer : The views, comments, concepts and opinions expressed within the pages of the Good Soil Guide are those of Atlas Geo-Data and the editorial team, and may not in any way reflect the views, comments, concepts or opinions of our sponsors or readership. No endorsement of named products, services or techniques is intended, nor is any criticism implied of other alternative, but un-named,  products, services or techniques. While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within the Good Soil Guide, no warranty is given in respect thereof and, to the maximum extent of the law, the Good Soil Guide, its editorial team, sponsors, associated partners and contributors accept no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused, including that caused by negligence, or suffered directly or indirectly in relation to the information and opinions contained in, or omitted from, this publication.

Should you require clarification, guidance or personal recommendation as to the suitability or practical application of any of the techniques, views, comments, concepts or opinions that feature in the Good Soil Guide, please contact us.