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    Scientists, farmers and practitioners share latest research and techniques at soil and water management conference

    Posted 18 January 2022

    An aerial picture of the long-running tillage project at Harper Adams – a tractor working in a field on the University campus.

    A conference drawing together scientists, farmers and practitioners to examine the latest research and techniques for soil and water management has been held at Harper Adams University.

    The Soil and Water Management Centre (SWMC) conference brought together experts, including award-winning researchers from Harper Adams, industry figures, and farmers to discuss soil and hydrological best practice and to share thoughts, work and insights.

    Among the presentations was a keynote session which examined a decade-long experiment underway at the University examining traffic and tillage. This internationally unique experiment was established in 2011 and conference attendees were afforded some of the insights which it has unearthed over a decade’s worth of work.

    Insights included some of the findings of the project on traffic and tillage, crop performance and yield, and also into the economics of the study – showing how, through careful equipment selection, similar processes can be economically viable for enterprises of c.100ha or more.

    Dr Andy Wilcox, Head of the Agriculture and Environment Department at Harper Adams University, said: “This Soil and Water Management Centre Conference 2022 day was very timely and brought the three themes of carbon, traffic and tillage together in a single event.

    “We were provided with an overview of the very important long-term experiment that has taken place at Harper Adams University that has explicitly investigated the impact of tillage, field traffic and tyre pressure on production.

    “Professor Dick Godwin summarised the positive economic benefits to farmers by applying these techniques to improve soil sustainability.

    “There was a great mix of underpinning science by a range of speakers and then some excellent farmer lead presentations by Tim Parton and Mark Lea showing how techniques were implemented.”

    Other presentations during the day included industry insights from Bayer CropScience, John Deere, AutoSpray Systems and more, as well as discussions of carbon sequestration research at both Harper Adams and other research centres; a presentation from Natural England on building the use of organic matter in soil; and a case study from a Kent farmer who is using his family farm to demonstrate how various regenerative practices affect soil carbon sequestration and the microbiome of soil health.

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