Chisel Ploughing to Open Dairy Farm Soil Structure with Hugh McClymont at Crichton Royal Farm

The most important asset of this farm, and any other farm, is the soil and it tends to be forgotten about. So it has to be
managed like any other enterprise on the farm to maximize the returns from the
land. On this farm we have a range of soils, but we find ourselves today on a free-draining sandy loam soil which after recent heavy rainfall allows us to
continue with the harvesting of maize. Our aim is to minimize the damage to
the soil by the use of wide tyres on the machinery to spread the weight. Also the
crop with its strong root structure will help to keep the soil structure open. The
residue off the maize crop, i.e. the stubble, will get incorporated back into
the soil in the springtime and this will help to keep the organic matter or humus
high in the soil which also raises the microbial activity working in the
soil. How we manage the soils on this farm, we are a mid-way from the lowest to the
highest part of the farm which is only 50 metres above sea level, the lowest is
actually at sea level. The soil adjacent to the river which is a particularly
heavy and can be challenging during the winter months but also can yield very well
during the summer growing season. The operation going on behind us is chisel ploughing the maize stubble which is opening up the soil surface following the
harvesting operations. This will enable the winter rains to
permeate into the soil and reduce the opportunity of soil runoff, or soil wash,
otherwise known. This will also assist us in the following spring to start
preparing for the next crop of string beans as a land should be much drier.
Here in the south west of Scotland we receive more than a metre of annual
rainfall so by doing this operation it certainly improves the soil structure. A lot of research has been undertaken in this practice and the optimum time for doing this operation is
now, straight behind the harvesting team. We aim to promote best practice at all times, mainly to preserve our best asset which is our top soil.

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