Soil health toolkit for growers marks three years of GREATsoils project

Online how-to guides with practical advice from growers on testing and improving soil health are among a toolkit of resources available following the end of the Soil Association’s three-year involvement with the GREATsoils project.

More than 750 attendees have joined the many GREATsoils grower events around the country since the Soil Association began work on the soil health project in 2015, in partnership with the Organic Research Centre and Earthcare Technical Ltd.

The project was funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), and the AHDB is now continuing the GREATsoils programme and building on its success with new partnership projects aimed to plugging further knowledge gaps.

The online resources include videos, downloadable fact sheets and case studies, as well as online webinars, which were all gathered during three years of grower engagement at field trials, field labs and workshops all focused on evaluating methods of testing soil health.

The toolkit includes demonstrations on methods of taking and testing soil samples, collecting data, and the various methods of improving soil systems following observations of the growers involved.

Simon Day, of Worth Farms, is a GREATsoils field lab participant and said: “GREATsoils is a good forum for getting people together to talk about how we can improve our most important asset, the soil.”

Ben Raskin, head of horticulture at the Soil Association, said: “The Soil Association has had three fantastic years working with growers to investigate the effectiveness of various ways of testing and improving soil with the GREATsoils project.

“It has provided a platform for growers to come together in a unique way to network and share their knowledge on soil health, no matter what their system or size.

“We are celebrating the end of our involvement in this programme, which is continuing with AHDB, by sharing some brilliant online how-to guides, available for free on our website and based on growers’ experience.”

Audrey Litterick, of Earthcare Technical Ltd, said: “These online guides draw on the expert knowledge that has been shared between the many growers, farmers and advisors who have been involved in the 56 events of this project and are an excellent resource for all types of growers.”

Anja Vieweger, of the Organic Research Centre, added: “The GREATsoils project has had a great reaction from the horticulture community so far, and we look forward to seeing it continue to grow as AHDB take it forward.”

The online resources are available through the Soil Association’s website at https://www.soilassociation.org/greatsoils or https://horticulture.ahdb.org.uk/greatsoils.

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