Now is the time to correct soil problems

THE post-harvest period is an ideal time to correct any soil problems from the past year, the Cross Compliance Advice Programme is advising farmers.

“Compaction can be exacerbated by heavy rainfall and often occurs during wetter periods,” says cross compliance adviser David Gardner. “But now, as autumn cultivations get under way, it’s a good time to address them. It’s also a good time for completing the Soil Protection Review.”

Where soil damage has occurred, it must be recorded in the soil protection review. Action should be taken to reduce any risk of yield loss in next year’s crop.

Whatever options are chosen to address soil problems, advice is to make sure cross compliance soil protection reviews are completed, as required under GAEC 1.

Mr Gardner also reminds growers that footpaths and bridleways must be reinstated if they are disturbed by ploughing and other cultivations taking place over the coming weeks and months.

“Good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC) standard 8 requires public rights of way to remain accessible. However, where a footpath or bridleway crosses a field, and you need to disturb it through cultivation, a breach of cross compliance will be avoided if the surface of the path is made good afterwards.”

Minimum width

The surface of the cross-field footpath or bridleway must be reinstated to not less than the minimum width - one metre for a footpath and two metres for a bridleway - within 14 days of the first disturbance if you are sowing a crop, or within 24 hours in all other circumstances. The route of the reinstated footpath or bridleway should be indicated to members of the public to ensure it is visible.

“Don’t forget where fields that are crossed by footpaths or bridleways are to be sprayed off prior to cultivation, only pesticides that have been approved for use on public rights of way should be used, and instructions on the product label should be read and followed carefully,” adds Mr Gardner.

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