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Auchincruive Venue for Soil Drainage Event

An event to take place at the Auchincruive estate on Monday 25th March will give worried farmers the chance to consider how to restore the condition of their soils after 18 months of wet weather.

The recent dry spell everyone in the south west has enjoyed has offered a welcome opportunity for farm soils in the area to dry out and for local farmers to begin thinking about repairing the damage so much rain has done over a prolonged period.

Beef Expo 2010

© Mastenbroek

Ayrshire’s mild, moist climate makes it ideal for growing the grass dairy farmers need to feed their cows. However too much rain is counterproductive as saturated soil has none of the air between its particles a healthy structure needs. Meanwhile the cows’ feet and silage making machinery all do their bit to create ruts and destroy soil structure through compaction.

At the Auchincruive event on Monday 25th March SRUC researchers will join their SAC Consulting colleagues in offering sessions on improving soil structure, drainage techniques and ways to reduce compaction. It will be timely advice.

“Ayrshire soils tend to be heavy and most farms are currently experiencing some degree of drainage and compaction” says Robert Ramsay, SAC Consultant in the Ayr office. “In addition the farms are heavily stocked with cattle or sheep which had a significant impact on the soaking ground last year. The knock on effect is to reduce the yield of grass grown which reduces what can be preserved as winter feed.”

In a series of presentations and practical sessions those attending the free event will consider the crucial questions of maintaining the farm drainage system. In previous years there was funding assistance available for drainage work, not so now. However there is some expectation that this may return and there will be discussion on the planning involved.

“With fertiliser costs spiralling the old strategy of using them to boost soil fertility no longer makes sense”, says Robert Ramsay. Good drainage and soil structure are vital. There is a range of equipment available to help deal with compaction and we will highlight those so that farmers can decide what works best for their farm.”

Equally important are the disease and conservation issues caused by waterlogging or flooding. These conditions favour the water snails that are important in the life cycle of the liver-fluke parasite which can do so much damage to sheep flocks and young stock. Likewise if unused nutrients like slurry or soil particles get washed into drains and watercourses farmers risk prosecution for breaking strict environmental regulations.

All farmers are welcome to attend and a light lunch will be available. To book your place and help us plan catering arrangements, please register with Linda O’Neil in the Ayr Office on 01292 525252.


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