If you visit the site of the AHDB (the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) you can get an idea of the many questions that British farmers – and fruit and vegetable growers in particular – are asking following Brexit. We hope that this “agreed separation” will not create further problems for people and producers who are working to achieve a civil cohabitation, at least on the subject of food. We turn to the AHDB, not because of their detachment from the EU but because of the important contribution they make through their attention to the soil and their programme of research on its management. The website has a section called “Greatsoils” where you can find publications that are based on scientific data while remaining easy to read and understand. One in particular sets out how someone can assess their own soil: a handbook with the title Soil management for horticulture.
This handbook completes and expands on concepts set out in a previous AHDB publication called Principles of soil management.
It is an in-depth guide on how to assess soil texture, structure and condition, and considers strategies to improve and maintain good soil structure.
In little more than 20 pages, it explains the physical, chemical and biological features of the soil. Importantly, it also suggests ways of maintaining and improving the condition of the soil.
The text illustrates approaches for avoiding soil compaction where possible (eg lower tyre pressures, limiting wheel loads, avoiding cultivation when soils are wet and controlling traffic). It also highlights best practice for alleviating compaction, maintaining good drainage and enhancing organic matter to build productive soils that are more resistant to compaction and erosion, and more resilient during spells of dry and wet weather.