An online soil guide has been launched which aims to become the world’s most comprehensive resource to help farmers improve soil health and increase the efficiency and profitability of their businesses.

The Good Soil Guide – a collaboration between Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire supply chain consultancy Future Food Solutions and expert soil scientist Neil Fuller – is a free-to-access online encyclopaedia specifically designed for use in the field. 

The database contains extensive information, empirical data and advice on how to improve soil health, increase soil organic matter, diagnose and treat problems with soil and crops, and help farmers to reduce carbon emissions.

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The “live” guide enables farmers, agronomists and other industry professionals from around the world to share their knowledge by adding to the already extensive resource.

The idea was born when Yorkshire Water catchment strategy manager Andrew Walker met Mr Fuller at an event held by Future Food Solutions.

In 2014, Mr Walker helped initiate a project bringing together landowners and stakeholders in the English uplands to facilitate better environmental outcomes for blanket bog land, and was keen to try a similar approach in the lowlands.

Mr Walker said the guide represented the sum of Mr Fuller’s 40 years’ experience in practical soil science compiled into a single resource, funded by Yorkshire Water.

ELM challenge

“Essentially, it focuses on improving soil health and increasing soil organic matter,” he said.

“Doing this gives the soil a more robust structure, meaning far less is lost to sediment, nutrients and pesticides are held on the field, and as the soil can absorb more water, incidents of flooding are hugely reduced.”

Improving soil health will be critical for farmers as part of Defra’s upcoming Environmental Land Management scheme.

To access the Good Soil Guide, go to www.soilguide.co.uk and create a free account.