A fruit grower’s experience with different tools for practical soil assessment

Loddington Farm Ltd are a conventional top fruit business growing dessert and culinary apples, pears, apricots and cherries for the UK supermarkets. Production is spread across four sites, two of which are owned and two farmed under contract. The geographical spread helps mitigate the risks of frost and pest and disease. Committed to the principles of Integrated Pest Management, Loddington farm Ltd constantly reviews its practices with the ultimate aim of producing top quality food in an environmentally sustainable way. The challenges we face with regards to our crops and our soils are around a perennial crop which limits how we travel across the ground. The demands of the crop throughout the year mean that we often travel on the ground when it is too wet and therefore compaction is an issue. In common with most farms: we do not choose the soil in which to grow our crops. We have to do the best with what we have from heavy Wealden clay to stony greensand loams. Our approach to our soils stems from their inherent and dynamic properties. We may not have a choice in what we grow our crops in but we have myriad choices over our impacts on the soil over time. As a business we would like to move to a regenerative agriculture whereby measureable indices of soil heath improve rather than decline as a result of our activities.

Presentations

Theme: crop diversity
Published: 27th January 2016
Author: Paul Smith
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