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The impact of changing farming practices on sustainability of soils in England and Wales - OC9403

This study will aim to evaluate the effects of changing farming practices on the long-term fertility and functioning of soils in England and Wales. Current agricultural land use, cropping and land management practices will be reviewed in order to identify practices that may result in significant beneficial or damaging changes in agricultural soils. Nutrient budgets for arable and grassland soils from the 1960’s onwards, and long-term soil fertility trends will be calculated using data from relevant surveys and inventories. The impact of current and potential future land management practices on the fertility and sustainability of English and Welsh soils and on nutrient export from soil systems will also be reviewed and the effects of recent management incentives and practices will be considered. Past and present trends in the pH of soils will be established using relevant historical data. The land areas of arable and grassland soils requiring liming will be identified and the amount of lime required to maintain soils at optimum pH will be calculated using the ADAS lime loss model. Other relevant data sets will be analysed to assess the impact of farming practices such as arable cultivation and N fertiliser practices, straw incorporation and set-aside on topsoil organic C content and soil structure and stability. The effects of changing farm practices on the occurrence and severity of soil erosion will be assessed from existing data and from an assessment of bare ground conditions and cultivation techniques inherent in various land management regimes. Finally, research and data relating to the direct and indirect impact of farming practices on the diversity and activity of soil biota will be reviewed and recommendations for any further research developed. Results of the above approaches will be assimilated in order to assess the overall impact on soil quality and functionality and a report will be produced that documents the linkages between changes in soil properties, productive and other functional capacities, and agricultural policies.
Project Documents
• Final Report : The impact of changing farming practices on sustainability of soils in England and Wales   (8567k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1995

To: 1998

Cost: £245,578
Contractor / Funded Organisations
ADAS UK Ltd., Soil Survey and Land Research Centre, Natural Environment Research Council
Fields of Study
Soil Protection