Alan Bullivant, East of England Farm Advisor from the National Trust shares his FABulous Farmer tips on how to help your soil recover following a challenging winter!
The continual wet weather during autumn, and now heavy storms and flooding has left many fields with damaged or waterlogged areas, or bare soil from harvested crops.
Once the immediate urgency has passed, take time to plan how to recover this damaged soil. Is the soil compacted and preventing water movement into the soil? Is the drainage system working as designed? Where appropriate, is the moling still functioning to allow water to get to drainage pipes? Are pipe outfalls clear and running?
Assess the potential profitability of cropping these fields or part fields compared with getting them recovered for the next crop. Sowing a cover crop or wild bird seed mix in late spring will provide roots to draw out moisture but also provide valuable wildlife habitats and food.
This is an opportunity to identify even small areas which may be better used to restore or create ponds or scrapes to benefit wildlife than poor crops.
Check out the various Countryside Stewardship schemes now available.