ARCHIVE: Cross Compliance: Guidance for Soil Management ENGLAND 2006 Edition (PB11162)

F - Managing soils when growing sugar beet, maize and other fodder crops, fruit and bulbs, and when keeping outdoor pigs

Sugar beet

56.  Sugar beet is deep rooting and can dry the soil to depth, which improves soil structure. Most damage to soil structure occurs from harvesting in wet conditions.

57.  Fine seedbeds on peaty soils and sandy soils are at risk from wind erosion in dry conditions. Fine sandy soils are also at risk from capping, soil wash and erosion, especially during early summer thunderstorms.


Damaged soil and ponding of water following harvesting of sugar beet.

Sugar beet drilled into a furrow-pressed coarse seedbed to prevent wind erosion on sandy soil.

Principles of good soil husbandry for sugar beet
f1 Land selected for sugar beet should be naturally free-draining or have efficient field drainage. Consider the relevant risks of run-off and erosion when planning which field to grow sugar beet (options are provided under the Entry Level Stewardship to help you reduce the risks of erosion).
f2 On light soils, leave the seedbed as coarse as possible (for example by drilling directly into furrow pressed land or into loosened cereal stubble).
f3 Use nurse crops or planted straw to prevent wind blow on sandy and peaty soils.
f4 Plant across the slope where it is safe and practical to do so.
f5 To prevent capping of the soil and runoff, ensure that irrigation is uniform, rates are not too high and droplet size is not too big.
f6 Cultivate wheelings to increase infiltration if water is likely to be channelled to the bottom of the slope causing further problems during harvest.
f7 Cultivate the soil as soon as conditions are suitable after harvest, to remove wheelings and compaction.
f8 Where soil organic matter is low, apply bulky organic manures or introduce grass leys or green manure crops into the rotation. You may wish to utilise set-aside for this.

Maize and other forage crops, including grazed crop residues

58.  The risk of damaging soils when growing maize, kale, rape, turnips and fodder beet depends mainly on whether harvesting or grazing is done in wet conditions. Maize harvesting in wet autumns can cause deep and severe compaction. Similarly, where root crops are lifted throughout the winter, severe damage from harvesters and loaded trailers can occur.

59.  Grazing forage crops and crop residues such as sugar beet tops and brassicas in the autumn or over the winter can lead to poaching, runoff and erosion. Although sheep tend to cause only shallow damage, runoff can be severe.


Soil compaction can occur following late harvesting of maize.

Surface pan caused by out-wintering of cattle on stubble turnips.

 

Principles of good soil husbandry for maize and other forage crops
f9 Avoid growing maize and other forage crops on land where the chances of runoff and erosion are high (options are provided under the Entry Level Stewardship scheme to help you reduce the risks of erosion on such land).
f10 On fields that are vulnerable to compaction, runoff and soil erosion, choose early maturing maize varieties to allow an early harvest.
f11 Where necessary, cultivate as soon as conditions are suitable after harvest or grazing to remove wheelings and compaction.
f12 Manage the grazing of forage crops and crop residues to minimise poaching and runoff. This can be achieved by:
  • limiting periods of access;
  • providing run-back areas;
  • starting at the bottom of sloping fields and back fence;
  • cultivating strips across the slope to reduce runoff where it is practical to do so;
  • avoid slopes vulnerable to erosion and runoff.

 


Soil compaction between rows of strawberries and on the headlands can cause runoff and soil erosion.

Natural regeneration of vegetation and loosening of soil to remove compaction between rows can reduce soil erosion.

Fruit crops

60.  The main risks to soil from fruit crops occur during planting and harvesting in wet conditions. Wheel ruts can cause deep compaction, runoff and soil erosion. Even repeated foot traffic of fruit pickers can puddle the soil in wet conditions.

61.  Wheelings between polythene tunnels or mulches can damage soil structure and, together with the tunnels or mulches, can greatly increase runoff and erosion. Over-application of irrigation water on fruit crops can cap the soil and cause erosion.

Principles of good soil husbandry for fruit crops
f13 Land selected for fruit crops should be naturally free-draining or have efficient field drainage.
f14 Avoid planting in wet conditions.
f15 Plant across the slope where is it safe and practical to do so.
f16 Use a mulch of straw to protect the soil between rows.
f17 Allow natural regeneration of vegetation, or establish grass between rows of perennial crops to prevent erosion.
f18 Tine between rows with a single-leg subsoiler to remove compaction and to prevent channelling of water.
f19 To prevent capping of the soil and runoff, ensure that irrigation is uniform, rates are not too high and droplet size is not too big.
f20 Avoid grubbing out plants and trees when the soil is wet.
f21 Cultivate headlands and gateways to remove compaction when necessary.
f22

Where land is fumigated, it should be cultivated to leave a rough surface as soon as possible after treatment.

Bulbs

62.  Bulb fields suffer heavy foot traffic and consequent compaction when flowers are picked in winter and early spring. Daily tractor traffic collecting flowers along headlands in wet conditions causes deep wheel ruts, soil compaction, channelling of water, runoff, soil wash and erosion.


Frequent tractor traffic in wet conditions during flower picking causes soil compaction.

Foot traffic from flower pickers puddles the soil, damaging soil structure.

 

Principles of good soil husbandry for bulbs
f23 Land selected for bulbs should be naturally free-draining or have efficient field drainage.
f24 Sloping fields should be avoided if they cause runoff and erosion.
f25 Ridges should be planted across the slope and should follow the contour where possible and where it is safe to do so.
f26 Cultivate headlands to remove compaction following planting.
f27 After harvest, cultivate soils to remove any wheelings and compaction as soon as conditions are suitable.
f28

Where land is fumigated, it should be cultivated to leave a rough surface as soon as possible after treatment.

Outdoor pigs

63.  Pigs can cause severe trampling and compaction of the topsoil, and trackways used by vehicles can become deeply rutted. Where pigs are kept on slopes, problems of runoff and erosion can occur. Problems will increase the longer pigs are kept on the same area of land.


Outdoor pigs can damage soil structure, causing excessive runoff and soil erosion on slopes.

Keeping outdoor pigs on grass can reduce soil erosion.

 

Principles of good soil husbandry for outdoor pigs
f29 Avoid keeping pigs on slopes and on slow-draining soils that lead to runoff.
f30
Plan and manage paddocks and tracks to avoid channelling of water.
f31 Develop a rotation and a system of management so that pigs can be moved on to grass and the sward can be maintained.
f32 It is good practice to establish grass buffers to intercept runoff, but these should be in addition to the points above and must not be relied on to prevent off-site impacts.
f33 If problems of runoff and erosion occur, move pigs from problem areas into other paddocks, and loosen ground or cultivate as soon as possible.
f34
When pigs have been moved on to another paddock, loosen the compacted soil or cultivate as soon as conditions allow.

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