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    Sons of Toil and Tons of Soil
08/09/05

photo : www.jennifermackenzie.co.uk
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A two-day workshop is to be held in November by the Applied Research Forum* to examine the most practical and sustainable long-term strategies for soil management in the UK, in the light of climate change.

Maintaining long-term soil quality contributes to better quality produce - be it in arable, livestock or horticulture - and can help towards addressing a number of environmental issues such as CO2 emissions and water pollution.

The workshop titled 'Manage your soils: grow your business' is to be held on November 15th -16th, 2005 at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

It is aimed at land managers, agricultural and environmental consultants, the scientific community and relevant government departments and industry organisations.

It will be exploring the impact of global markets, climate change and current farming practices on the functionality and biodiversity of soils in arable, livestock and horticultural farming systems.

Attendees will debate possible answers to key soil management issues with the aim of reaching a consensus on the best strategies for the future.

Keynote speakers include: Dr Chris West, Director UK Climate Impacts Programme at Oxford University; Professor Sir John Marsh from Reading University, Professor Karl Ritz from Cranfield University, Professor Stephen Nortcliff from Reading University, Professor David Powlson from Rothamsted Research, Professor Steve Jarvis from Institute for Grassland and Environmental Research, Dr Andy Whitmore from Rothamsted Research and Dr Andrew Clark from the National Farmers Union.

The workshop has been awarded eight BASIS points for attendees who are on professional development programmes.

Lead Technical Director for ARF, Graham Jellis said: "Soil is a living biological entity which can be degraded by many factors. We need to manage and nurture it to protect what we have.

"Defra research has shown in England and Wales, the percentage of soils classed as low in organic matter rose from 35 per cent to 42 per cent between 1980 and 1995.

"The workshop is designed to help us translate soil management science into best practice. The levy bodies will then take this practical output and communicate it to our respective sectors."

With sponsorship from Defra, the cost of this two-day workshop has been kept down to £200, including a 'Best of British' dinner at the historic Hatfield House where the guest of honour will be Food and Farming Minister Lord Bach.

* The Applied Research Forum is a mechanism for British Levy bodies to collaborate on appropriate R&D programmes and associated knowledge transfer activities, and to influence government prioritisation and investment in agri-food research. It was established in 2003. Member organisations: HGCA, MLC, BPC, BBRO, HDC, MDC, PGRO, BBSRC, DARDNI, Defra, FSA, NFU, NFU Scotland, SEERAD, WAG.

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