Good drainage for soil health

Conditions in some regions this winter have probably brought the effects of extreme waterlogging more to our attention. But what about when the flood waters have subsided? Do you have soils that remain waterlogged when surrounding areas are drying out, regardless of the incline?

The effects of wet soils are clear to see in many areas. Many wheat crops in particular are looking stunted and bedraggled. Do crops have the capacity to recover enough to avoid a yield penalty? If soils remain waterlogged for considerable lengths of time, the anaerobic conditions will adversely affect soil nutrient status. These effects are made worse if the soil is compacted. It is difficult to imagine that you won’t have to pay the price somewhere along the lines. These are just a few reasons why it might be worth giving some thought to how you might be able to reduce the risk of serious waterlogging.

What can you do about it? A good place to start is to think about drainage. Next, have a look at the AHDB Field Drainage Guide. In case you need it, this tells you how to identify the need for drainage. But probably more importantly it provides a detailed guide on soil management for effective drainage, how to identify and assess an existing drainage system, how to go about maintenance and repairs, as well as renewal and installation.

Think of drainage as a long-term investment. Although installation can be costly, the benefits can be substantial. Finally, think about it – in some years drainage can make the difference between having a crop to harvest and not having one at all.