Blackburn and Darwen Farmers Group: Soil and grassland farm walk reportWednesday 03 July 2013
The Blackburn and Darwen Farmers group recently held a farm walk in June focusing on compaction and improving soil health at Billinge Nook Farm, Blackburn by kind permission of the Pawson family.
The evening’s speaker was James Bretherton, AgScope, discussing compaction, plus a demonstration of grassland equipment including a pan buster, over-seeder, aerator and spring tine harrow from local contractor Mark Robinson.
Dig a hole and assess your soil
James described to the group that by digging a hole about six to nine inches deep how to condition score the soil. Explaining the first thing you should assess is the soil smell, an earthy smell indicates a good ‘bug life’, and if it doesn’t smell, one of the easiest ways to improve it is by aerating it, as the pans caused by livestock and machinery will starve soils of air.
Working the soil
Then following a working demonstration of the aerator and pan buster, James was able to show the difference they had made to the soil structure. Both machines aerated the soil but at different depths (pan buster used for deeper compaction) breaking up the panning and compaction which had been caused by last year’s wet summer and being continually heavily grazed by livestock due to being close to the farm.
Lancashire Farmer Network
During supper there was discussion about the group continuing after the end of the Livestock Programme in July. Myerscough is working with farmers to form a Lancashire Farmer Network to continue working with the livestock groups. Farmers would pay a small subscription and Myerscough is seeking further funding to support it. The farmers at the meeting supported this and were keen to see meetings continue in the future.
Contact Robert Burrow for further information at Myerscough College 01995 642 206