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R452 Soil Workability and Structural Stability

Publication Date: 
28 October 2011
Author/Contact :
Author/Contact: 
Mark Stalham

Contractor :
Contractor: 
Cambridge University Farm (CUF)

Full Research Project Title: Improving cultivation practices in potatoes to increase window of workability and soil structural stability
Duration: April 2011 - March 2012

Aim: To improve cultivation practices in potatoes to increase soil structural stability and lengthen the window of workability, and to develop the findings of project R406. This will initially be a one-year project.

Industry Challenge

Moving large volumes of soil at a time when drying of soil at depth is slow can lead to compaction, unless soil is disturbed superficially or inverted.  Cultivating soil when above its plastic limit can result in compaction and work in a previous AHDB Potatoes Project (R406) showed that an increase in soil water content at cultivation was associated with greater soil bulk density at cultivation depth and that even small increases in organic matter content reduced bulk density.  The current N fertiliser recommendation system frequently underestimates the soil N supply (SNS) index resulting in over-application of N fertiliser.  In addition, around 70% of the potato area in England is grown on soils with high risk of structural degradation. 

Collaboration

CUF

Approach

Objectives:

(a) Quantification of the effects of water content at cultivation and organic matter content on soil workability, bulk density and structural stability.
(b) Quantify the effect of different cultivation techniques on SNS supply.
(c) Measure the effects of contrasting ped size distribution, consolidation and profile of ridges on soil properties and crop performance.
 
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