Sustainable soil

Soil is high on Asda’s agenda. Working with LEAF, we’ve developed practical and realistic approaches to soil management – arguably a farmer’s most important asset – to make sure our farming systems are as robust and sustainable as they can be.

Our guide – ‘Simply Sustainable Soil’ – helps our farmers to get the best out of their soil, create awareness of soil quality and track changes in soil quality over time.

Six steps to sustainable soil:

Physical health
1. Soil structure
2. Drainage
3. Compaction

Nutrient balance and exchange
4. Soil organic matter status
5. Soil pH and nutrients

Biological health
6. Earthworms, living organisms and plant residues

Lessons from across the pond

Asda took 18 British farmers to North Dakota to look at sustainable and healthy soil practices. While out there, they met with Gabe Brown, a regeneration agriculture expert. Gabe explained how he encourages pollinators and promotes a more healthy ecosystem by using 27 varities in his crop. This has made his land four times more productive than others in the state.

The whole trip was a great experience for our farmers and they are now turning what they've learnt into actions on their own farms.

Sustainable soil in practice 

A clever solution for carrot crops.

Careful soil management is vital for Asda carrot grower, Guy Poskitt, who farms near Goole in Yorkshire. One slip up and his soil, and his crop, can be literally blown away.

His sandy soil supports 80ha of carrots, 10ha of sugarbeet and 60ha of parsnips, among other crops. This type of soil is perfect for root crops but it means that wind erosion poses a major threat.


“I’ve seen a lot of disasters, like 80 hectares (ha) of crop lost in a matter of hours,” Guy explains. “The smaller grains of sand will shred the top of the crop soon after it emerges.


In response to this, Guy has put a brilliant plan in place that has helped to  protect his high-value carrot crops. “We establish them with a barley cover crop. This is sown with the carrots in April or May and comes up fast to create a micro-climate. It’s like little hedges protecting the emerging carrots. We then spray off the barley three to four weeks after drilling as soon as the carrots can stand the blowing sands and wind.”

A thorough understanding of the soil-type means that Guy is prepared for all eventualities and yields only the finest crops.

 

For more information please see our simply sustainable soils booklet developed in collaboration with LEAF.