Gareth Jones

Nant Y Fran, Amlwch

Assessing soil health & rectifying soil compaction

Since converting to dairy in 2018, Nant y Fran has made significant investment in infrastructure and has focused on producing high quality grass, multi-cut grass silage and cereals to feed the 300 autumn calving cow herd during peak lactation in the winter months.

Nant Y Fran has heavy soils, mostly silty clay loam. Since converting to dairy, the farming system has changed significantly with the herd rotationally grazing throughout a longer grazing season, more frequent travel across fields with heavy machinery for spreading slurry during late autumn and spring months, putting more pressure on soil health. 
Gareth reports seeing change to both grass and arable crop yields in recent years and believes this is due to changes in soil health with compaction causing soil moisture to be lost much quicker in a dry period. 
This project aims to assess soil health on each field on the grazing platform via a Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS). Any fields identified with poor soil health & compaction will undergo a more in-field analysis including bulk density and water infiltration testing. 

Soil samples will be also sent off to the laboratory to measure physical, chemical and biological properties and the data will be compared against the other on farm assessments.
After the data has been collected, a plan will be developed for rectifying the compaction issues. Depending on the type and degree of compaction, equipment such as subsoiler and roller aerator will be used to treat fields with issues, and the fields will be split into two, a control and treatment area.

Through driving further improvement in efficiency in these key business areas, the project will also contribute to the Sustainable Land Management outcomes including:

  • Reduce the farm’s greenhouse gas emissions
  • Clean Water
  • Maximise Carbon Storage
  • Mitigate flood and drought risk

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