Midlands Soil Discussion Group

Midlands Soil Discussion Group

The Midlands Soil Discussion Group (MSDG) was first formed on the 23rd November 2011 at Nottingham university thanks to the efforts of Professor Sacha Mooney.  The group has grown from strength to strength since then.

Group Chair: Dr Sami Ullah

Group Secretary: Professor Mike Fullen

Group Treasurer: Dr Fiona Nicholson

Contact MSDG

Latest posts

Last Chance to register for the NSN Event: Soil Resources Evening Seminar on World Soil Day

The BSSS Northern Soils Network invites you to an evening seminar to be held on World Soil Day at Wardell Armstrong Newcastle Office.

Soils are often an underappreciated part of a development, but they are important not only because their intrinsic value but the role they play in the built environment itself.


Soils In Practice - South

Event date: 
Thursday, November 14, 2019
Event venue: 
Russell Smith Farms, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Event description: 

Farmers Weekly’s Soils In Practice is returning for two one-day conferences.

Soils in Practice brings together experts and industry professionals from across the UK agricultural sector, providing a platform to discuss the latest advances in boosting soil fertility and best practice in soil management.

The event aims to help farmers understand some of the practical steps that can be taken to measure and promote healthy soil in a sustainable farm setting.

Experts will present interactive theoretical and practical sessions on topics including: measuring soil components, nutrient management and pest mitigation, cover crops, organic matter utilisation and the likely implications of incoming legislation on soil health.

History

The original part of estate, 350-acre College Farm, entered the Smith family in 1938 as tenanted land and has been in the Smith family ever since. Land acquisitions and tenancies have seen it grow to its current size of almost 3,000 acres surrounding the south Cambridgeshire village of Duxford.

The current farm owner and manager, Robert Smith, joined the business in 1975 and has overseen the transition from a 1,000 acre cereal farm to an enterprise with a significant focus on vegetable production. the farm still grows 1,000 acres of wheat but now also includes 350 acres potatoes and 100 acres of onion which are sold to all the major supermarkets.

Organic Production

Since 1998, the farm has grown its organic production to over 400 acres, much of which is sold to Waitrose. This learnings from this change has led to reduced chemical use on the conventional, non-organic crops and the farm is keen to share these lessons with other farmers.

Soil

The majority of land is free-draining and sits on light sandy loam soil overlying gravel or chalk, with small pockets of clay throughout the farm. Minimal tillage is carried out on soils growing cereals and stale seedbeds are used to grow the farm’s organic produce, for potatoes and sugar beet deep cultivation is emplyed. To support the increased vegetable growth, the farm has invested in an extensive irrigation system comprising several on-site reservoirs and 28km of underground water mains.

Research & Innovation

Research and innovation are vital for the business and building strong relationships with the UK agricultural industry has meant that science can inform day-to-day farming practice. KWS and RAGT have research offices on the faarm and Syngenta and Bayer both run various crop trials on-site.

Robert is also a co-founder of AgriTech East, current member of Cambridge University agri-tech group and has invested in several agricultural technology start-ups including artificial intelligence company Hummingbird Technologies.

Environment

Environmental accountability and sustainable production are central tenets of the way Robert wants the farm to operate and is part of various steweardship and monitor farm programmes. They are a LEAF and Waitrose demonstration farm and 5% of the farm area is counted as higher level stewardship land.

Crops

• 1,000 acres of wheat                     • 300 acres of sugar beet
• 400 acres organic oats                  • 100 acres of onions
• 350 acres of potatoes •

For full details and to book your ticket


June 2019: An Update from Dan

I am writing this on one of those days when the skies decide to ‘spring clean’ the Earth. Strong gusts are vacuuming the dust from the country lanes that run like skirting boards around green carpets of cropland and pasture. Clouds unite to form impenetrable ceilings of lead from which millions of droplets are preparing to polish the rooftops. As I write, my train carriage window is becoming freckled with a shimmering galaxy of watery stars. Is there anything more inspiring than a clouded day?


"Soils and the Environment" - Annual Workshop of the Midlands Soil Discussion Group

Event date: 
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Event venue: 
Allerton Project site, Loddington, LE7 9XE, United Kingdom
Event description: 

The theme of this meeting is "Soils and the Environment" which is of critical importance for protecting environmental quality, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. 

The annual meeting of the MSDG group will examine the link between soil management, the environment and habitat quality through a tour of the ongoing sustainable soil management and conservation techniques being employed at the Allerton Project farm site. The morning tour will be followed by selected presentations showcasing the latest research in soil science.

The day will run between 9.30am and 1.45pm. The agenda can be viewed here

Attendance (including lunch and refreshments) is:

FREE for BSSS Members

£15 for Student NON-Members *  Proof of student status will be required at time of booking - please see payment page.

£20 for NON-Members 

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED FOR THIS MEETING 

ALL attendees must register to allow us to plan logistics and catering accurately.

Event flyer: 

Annual MSDG Workshop on May 29th, 2019 in Loddington

Dear all

The annual Midlands Soil Discussion Group's workshop is scheduled for May 29th this year and the theme of the workshop is "Soils and Environment". The workshop will be held at the Allerton Project site in Loddington (LE7 9XE) and will involve a tour of the project site in the morning session. The tour will provide briefs on the on-going work on sustainable farm soil management, followed by relevant presentations in the afternoon.

Please, circulate this email to people you may know would be interested in this event.


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