• Soil Fertility Services

Once More Into The Breech...

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

Another year we have just gotten through, We’re wondering how did it go for you?

It is tough to make a profit and you have to rely on the subsidy. Grain yields are coming in and so far are looking quite good with barley around 3.5 tonnes per acre, wheats are pushing a good 4.5 tonnes per acre, and still the best to come - OSR all over the place! Some good looking crops are very disappointing and other ‘ordinary looking’ crops doing over 2 tonnes per acre.

There is a lot of huff and puff in regard to use of and benefits of using biologicals, and many more people wanting to do trials. It is not easy to do small trials as the biological farming is NOT about a product, it is more about a system of farming.

We need to start with the soil, pre-drilling when we apply Bio-Start; this contains a range of natural beneficial micro-organisms in a food source and is designed to ‘free-up’ locked-up minerals – phosphate for example. It will stimulate plant root growth and provide protection from soil pathogens.

If we can re-populate the soil with the beneficial organisms, they will out-compete the pathogens that prey on your crops. It is in effect a probiotic for the plant. If we can clean up your soils, your crops will benefit from increased rooting and decreased levels of disease.

For OSR to stop Flea Beetle, we need to apply Vita-Protect in three applications: At emergence, again at 3-4 leaf stage and before stem extension. Vita-Protect is based on silicate which acts to strengthen the plant leaf, making it very difficult for the beetle to chew on the leaf. At the same time it contains a range of organisms, some of which will provide nutrition for your soils natural reserves, plus some that when the beetle eats it will attack the gut of the pest, causing it to stop eating. This DOES work and is very cost affective.

Why not get a fully costed programme for all your crops - telephone the office on 01366 384899



The Liquid BetterGrass seems to have worked it’s magic with a good to high level of minerals in the grass and for next year’s winter feed. As for growth of grass – we’re not sure we can claim responsibility for that, I think maybe the weather had a small part to play. The BetterGrass Xtra Liquid will adjust the pH of the soil in the grass rooting area – the Rhizosphere, however it won’t keep it there. As long as the grass is growing it will maintain the pH somewhere in the region of 5.5 – 6.4; this is adequate for high yields of grass and will also encourage clover.

The Bio-N seems to have done it’s job, not only in grass production but in arable crops too. Excellent quality Barley and Wheat grown with half normal rate of bagged nitrogen. To be fair we are still learning with these products, what with time of application, amounts, soil temperatures and structures all providing a variant.

Bio-N is a natural product and is approved for organic use; it is carbon-free and indeed the beneficial nitrogen-fixing organisms will help pull carbon into the soil - BRILLIANT, it’s what we have to move towards and just hope we are not too late.

We are very disappointed at the continuous negative comments regarding this biological programme, but there always will be plenty of ‘abominable no men’.

At the RWS we used Bio-N on a plot where in just a few weeks it produced 1.5 tonnes per hectare more dry matter than the adjacent crop. No bagged nitrogen was used, the cost of the Bio-N for two applications was £20 per hectare.

Last year we helped out with the Complex Liquid Feed supplement; do bear it in mind if for some reason you have poor quality forage. It’s a great product and the stock love it. A bonus this year, it is now approved for organic use too.


Humic SCG

So, heavy rain showers now, what next, a wet autumn? How will your soils cope with it; will it be high run off or can you improve infiltration and get it deep into your soils where it needs to be? You can if you use Humic SCG . This has been used for many years to improve water infiltration both on grasslands and arable cropping. We now include it in the Bio-Start and Bio-Mulch both of which are in our Autumn Nutrition Programme.


In The beginning…

Up until now your soil has been aided by the plants in the form of root exudates in a reciprocal relationship cycle, but come harvest that all changes.

Suddenly many of the beneficial microbes that had been providing the plant's roots with nutrients, water, and oxygen fuelling its growth, are cut off from their main food supply. Roots that were once fruitful switch off with no solar panel photosynthesising above the ground, and the soils home guard suffer; consequently, pathogenic micro-organisms take full advantage of the more stressful situation bringing with them diseases.

The plants knew exactly which microbes were essential to their survival and they secreted specific exudates from their roots to attract certain advantageous bacteria to their rhizosphere, without this referee in the equation the equilibrium can go unchecked.

There are normally a million bacterial cells in one millilitre of fresh water or to put it another way 40 million bacterial organisms in a gram of soil, with the biomass of bacteria on Earth exceeding that of all animals and plants combined. The soil has a pretty tough job of feeding this population without some assistance from plants, and because mother nature likes to keep her clothes on, she sets about breaking down trash so that the next crop can benefit and grow from its returns… The soil feeds plant and the plant feeds soil.

Fungi and bacteria will decompose residues by secreting enzymes to break up the trash’s chemical structure, the compounds and nutrients released in the process are then used by other bacteria and fungi within the soil. Microbes are often the first to the nutrient dinner table with better access to soil nitrogen, meaning that the next crop often misses out leaving them nitrogen deficient.

Incorporating organic matter can change the amount of nitrogen and other nutrients available to the plants and microbes, remembering that the high C:N ratio of organic matter will probably cause some nitrogen deficiency in the crops/plants. So, what is the solution?

Beneficial micro-organisms that aid in the breakdown of organic material and improve nutrient uptake - Bacteria like Bacillus Subtilis will actively decompose organic remains into available nitrogen and is also antagonistic toward many plant pathogens, performing as microbial pesticide - ‘Its BIO-Logical

Steve Holloway


The Man Shed

Nothing from the man shed this time around I’m afraid, I’m too busy looking after our daughter – Nichola, who continues to make progress, but it really is hard work for both her mum and me, so I’ve not been able to get out much.

Thank you all for your patience and continued support for us, it’s really very much appreciated.

Freddy got married this summer and has moved on from SFS; he is now driving a shiny new tractor and hoping to become a farm manager – I keep thinking what a waste but we wish him well.

Tom did a similar thing last year and is now driving for Adrian Marsh; the good news is that we have two new enthusiastic replacements, both of whom will be introducing themselves very soon. Welcome to Giles and Barry.


Soil Fertility Services Newsletter
Soil Fertility Services Newsletter issue 58

Soil Fertility Services Newsletter
Soil Fertility Services Newsletter issue 58

Newsletter Issue No.58

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