South West Soil Discussion Group

South West Soil Discussion Group

The South West England Soils Discussion Group (SWESDiG) was set up in 1975 to stimulate interest in the study of soils in the Region, and provide a means whereby individuals from different institutions and fields of activity can meet to discuss problems and topics of common interest.Membership of the group is free. Meetings are organised on an ad hoc basis on selected themes relevant to the wider study of soils, land use and the environment in the South West.

Group Chair: Dr Martin Blackwell

Group Secretary: Dr Rob Parkinson

Contact SWESDiG

Latest posts

Organic Matters: UK Horticulture Conference

Event date: 
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Event venue: 
Trinity Centre, Bristol, United Kingdom
Event description: 

Organic Matters will be hosting 150 delegates from organic and regenerative horticulture. We will facilitate the exchange of technical knowledge through an exciting programme of speaker sessions (8 in total). There will be plenty of opportunities for networking between delegates and speakers. The sessions will be recorded and available after the event for those who cannot attend. We hope to establish the conference as an annual event which will grow over the coming years. Expect technical sessions covering themes such as soil health, pest & disease management, plant science, mentoring and work efficiency.

Organic Growers Alliance (OGA) is at the helm of this conference. OGA is a community interest company and member organisation made up of organic food growers and horticulturalists from across the UK. It is steered by a group of
voluntary directors who felt there was a real need for a conference focusing on the technical side of horticulture to help those in the sector expand their knowledge, push forward new ideas and give an opportunity for membership to come together.

Organic Matters day-tickets are now on sale and cost £35/£45 + booking fees (members/non-members) which includes 8 x 90-minute sessions, industry stalls, networking opportunities with the other 150 delegates and refreshments.

There will be an organic lunch available on site at an affordable price (not included in ticket). 

OGA will be organising an evening before meet-up as well as a farm walk at Sims Hill Shared Harvest on the Wednesday morning following the conference.

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?

Finding Fertile Fields for the Future

Event date: 
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Event venue: 
Penyard House, Weston under Penyard, Ross on Wye United Kingdom
Event description: 

Soils are a key resource to the agricultural production system, yet 33% of arable top soil has been lost globally in the last 40 years. In England and Wales at current rates of usage it is estimated that we have just 100 harvests left.

It is essential that we understand our soils so that we can use and manage them in a productive and sustainable way. If you are passionate about soils, come and join the debate on 4th June 2019 and help develop solutions that will keep our firlds fertile for the future.


CHAPS Members £50

Non Members £60


Maximising the Value of Home Grown Forage

Event date: 
Friday, April 5, 2019
Event venue: 
Rothamsted Research, North Wyke near Okehampton, Devon, United KIngdom
Event description: 

This event is being held as part of the Cornwall Agritech programme at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke near Okehampton, Devon

This free workshop provides an exceptional chance to participate with actual "grassroots" research projects which are examining how the value of homegrown forage can be maximised, therefore leading to enhanced resource efficiency, financial savings, reduced environmental impacts and improved ecological diversification. 

Are you a veterinary practice, sensor developer, parasite specialist, animal health & welfare specialist, meat quality analyser, fencing contractor, animal nutritionist, sward yield and mapping specialists silage contractor, seed company, consultant, agronomist, speciality crop producer, fertiliser supplier, environmental advisor, contract grower, agricultural advisor or economist? Then this event is for you.

Discover how maximising the value of forage can lead to enhanced efficiency, financial savings and reduced environmental impacts for the agricultural sector.

We want to hear from you about where the opportunities are and what needs to be done to make the best use of our fantastic homegrown forage resource. 

For more details and to book your FREE PLACE please go to

Or contact Kirsty Tooke (event organiser) on 01837 512 305 or


SWSDG news and request for help

Dear all,

Hopefully now it's mid-March you have some flowers blooming around you and blossom on the trees (let's not ponder too long on the wind and rain!).

In soils news, there are several things to tell you about: three upcoming events, an interesting radio programme, and a request for help - people in Cornwall, this is especially for you.


SWSDG events this spring:

BBC Farming Today - Can you help?

Heather Simons, Producer of BBC Radio's "Farming Today" is looking for a location to record a 30 minute radio programme about soil. The scheduled recording date is Friday 8th March 2019 and as the team are based at BBC Bristol they are looking for a location ideally no more than two hours away from there.

Heather is looking for either a farm or a research site where is something they can see that is being done to improve soils.

The recording would take a maximum of 2 hours.

If you can help then Heather can be contacted on 07814 780987