• Philip

Size matters!

It should never be forgotten that soil is just ground-up rock making its way to the sea. Mixed with the rock is detritus and consequently organisms that make up a wide variety of food chains simply travelling along for the ride. What happens on this journey is what farmers and now more and more commercial organisations take interest in, that is, making money.

The ground-up rock is of various particle sizes. The use of empirical measurement provides us with the various percentage of each particle size allowing us to classify our soil types from sands through to loams and then clays. It is also obvious that these textural class names are a reflection not only of particle size distribution but also of tillage characteristics and other physical properties.

There are currently a myriad of press releases, government directives and meetings offered to the farming community relating to soil properties and health. What seems to have been forgotten are some of the simple and basic facts relating to soil and its management. Would it not be more beneficial for all concerned if we concentrated on the basics before trying to tinker with any refinements? You don’t have to take my word for it, what about 100 years of work carried out and published at Rothamsted research station.

Soil physics: theory and practice. 1942

The scientific basis of the art of cultivation. 1937

Can cultivation costs be reduced. 1929

First commission: soil mechanics and physics. 1926