Catchment Sensitive Farming: Practical Tips

Practical Tip: Soil management plans

A soil management plan can help land managers to improve the way they treat soils. You can either draw up your own soil plan or obtain professional advice from a consultant. Your plan should be clearly set out and include the following steps:-

  1. Read relevant publications on controlling run-off and erosion and good practices for managing soils - Cross Compliance Guidance for Soil Management and A Guide to Better Soil Structure.
  2. Using the guidance produced by Defra - Controlling soil erosion: A manual for the assessment and management of agricultural land at risk from water erosion in lowland England or advice from a consultant, prepare an assessment of the risks of run-off and erosion for your whole farm. It can help to look at soil during and after rain to identify areas of poor drainage and where run-off or erosion may be occurring including gateways, roads and tracks. When you have done this, you should prepare a map showing the risk class for each field or part field.
  3. Use a spade to look at soil structure in each field, or part field, to decide what you will need to do to maintain or improve condition. Consider if you need to take any additional actions to improve the organic matter content of the soil.
  4. Record on a field-by-field basis the steps you will take during the coming year to minimise run-off and erosion and to ensure good structure and maintain the infiltration of rainfall.
  5. During the year you should record any problems such as ponding, patched of poor growth, or run-off or erosion events. This will remind you what has happened, and where you need to consider changing your management when you come to review the plan. You should review the plan each year, and include another assessment of soil structure, paying particular attention to any areas where you noticed problems.

Following the steps above should produce a soil management plan acceptable under Defra's Environmental Stewardship Scheme. For more information please visit the Defra website.


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