The International Fertiliser Society held its annual conference at Robinson College in Cambridge on the 8th and 9th December, once again I attended.
The title, Updating Evidence-Based Management of Crop Nutrition contained 11 papers covering subjects from advancements in “Nitrogen Use Efficiency” to “Boron in the soil and plant” through to “Claims and mechanisms of plant bio-stimulation.”
The relevance to modern-day agriculture of the data contained within the published work is in some cases very high and in others perhaps of more use to other scientists.
This year the paper presented by Mr David Powlson. “The influence of organic matter on soil properties” was, in my opinion, by far the best.
Some conclusions: -
“Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) influences virtually all biological, chemical and physical properties and so always more is better…. even small increase can have disproportionately large impacts on soil properties… increasing the importance of soil organic matter content was downplayed in the late 1990’s due to the success of new varieties, fertiliser and crop protection chemicals increasing yields.”
“A situation is developing… in which policies enacted to incentivise farmers to increase Soil Organic Carbon … to mitigate climate change …. measuring increases in SOC is possible but difficult and unlikely to provide definitive or accurate values for the quality of Carbon sequestered through an alteration of practise within a period of a few years: if such values are to be required, we suggest an alternative approach to measurement must be developed.”
Could this mean? “Keep adding organic manure to the soil but any form of incentive (payment) based on current thresholds or methods of measurement outcome's will not be related to values based on scientific facts!”