A renowned farming technology company has teamed up with leading space industry engineers and soil biologists to launch a new app to help farmers cut their carbon emissions.


The launch coincides with a drive from UK Government Ministers to change the agricultural subsidy regime in post-Brexit Britain. In England and Wales, Instead of EU CAP payments going to farmers simply for the size of their eligible land holding, the new schemes will incentivise farmers to protect soils, water, air and wildlife. Similar proposals are thought to be in the offing for farmers in Scotland.


Robert Ramsay, of SoilEssentials, the company behind the new app states:


We are a long-established firm, celebrating our 20th year as a leading developer of precision farming technology to farmers across the UK and beyond. I am not in the business of offering a critique of farm support schemes, past, present or future, but what I would say is farmers over the past 5-10 years have woken up big time to the need to preserve and nurture their soils. Prior generations may have developed a reliance on feeding crops through artificial fertilisers, but today’s farmers are expert in feeding and enhancing the natural fertility of soils in order to enhance their yields”
“Many of the techniques used to protect and build soil fertility, by their nature, help to ensure the function of soils as carbon stores is also enhanced; and, as Government advisors are now keen to highlight, locking carbon into soils is going to be critical in the fight against climate chaos.”
“If the new support schemes for farmers are going to be aimed at rewarding those who look after their soils, many will welcome that. The key question will then be ‘how can soil health be easily measured’ in order to comply with the proposed new regime?”
“My firm, SoilEssentials, has brought together the expertise of leading farmers and soil scientists with technologists from elsewhere, including the Space industry, in order to develop an accurate, easy and quick method for measuring the health of soils. Our partners in this crusade include the world-renowned James Hutton Institute and Scottish Agronomy.
“The tool we have developed, SoilBio – part of our KORE app – is a soil metric that gives an absolute repeatable reading of the functional health of the soil. Based on 4 years work and nearly 1 million data points from soils in the UK it has real pedigree. The smart thing about SoilBio is that rather than trying to directly measure soil health it uses the organisms that live in the soil to reflect the environment that they have been inhabiting. That way it is more than just a snap-shot but instead takes into account the last few years of soil management.”


Mr Ramsay continued:


“Scientists looking at ecosystems can judge the whole ecosystem by the abundance of the top predators. Soil is such an ecosystem and the top predators are nematodes. They sit at the top of all the inherent soil ecological niches.”
“A SoilBio test uses 3 years of satellite imagery to detect areas of good and poor performance. Then a soil sample is taken from each of these zones and the DNA of the nematodes present is extracted. The variation within this nematode community can be seen. Indicative indexes are used to numerically evaluate the soil health. These are compared to the considerable database held at James Hutton Limited”

In addition to potentially evaluating soil health in relation to future support schemes, SoilEssentials also believe SoilBio will become an essential tool for tenant and contract farmers wishing to accurately assess soil parameters at key dates in land agreements and for growers, e.g. of vegetables and potatoes who regularly rent in ground away from their own holding.

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