CHAP’s soil health facility at Cranfield University will bring the latest scientific knowledge and understanding to 21st century farming. It will help to deliver more profitable farming, increased agricultural productivity, a greener environment, sustainable rural communities and a better diet for populations around the world.
Healthy soils underpin most agricultural businesses, as they are vital for crop production. However, soil properties also influence the viability and distribution of soil-borne pests, weeds and diseases. Soil management can influence these relationships, but there are significant gaps in our knowledge about how different practices affect the persistence and transmission of biotic threats. Guidance needs to be developed on how to manipulate the physical, chemical and biological properties of varied soils to optimise crop health and protection.
The facilities recreate at the pilot scale (<1m2 – >20m2) the dynamic interrelationships between soil health, water use and biotic factors (pathogens, weeds and roots), whilst both controlling the environmental variables that influence them. They also allow reproducible soil management practices that are currently adopted by industry as well as testing innovative approaches. This system generates better understanding of the role of tillage (from intensive through to no-till systems), drilling, plant establishment, crop development, harvest operations and post-harvest soil management on soil health (and thus crop quality, quantity and resilience). Uniquely the facilities allow for crop cycles to be investigated thereby capturing the longer term dynamics.
More information about how Cranfield and CHAP work together: Cranfield Agri-EPI PPT 2017
More information about Cranfield University: Cranfield Video.
Our services include:
- Soil processing facilities for creating defined soil conditions at pilot scale
- Linkable soil modules (1.2m3) for tillage operations and real-time monitoring of soil properties, including lysimetry
- Walk-in plant growth cabinets and extensive glasshouse for plant growth trials under defined soil conditions and climate scenarios
- Adjustable mobile slopes for simulating rainfall events in soil-plant systems for analysis of soil hydrology, erosion, infiltration and crop establishment
- Soil chemical analytical facilities, including ICP-MS; and Root phenotyping facilities for in situ root scanning and imaging of washed root systems.