SOMETIMES the more we learn, the more it becomes abundantly clear that we don't really know very much.

The work done by Rothamsted Research that is finding out just what is in our soils and which bugs do 'good' and which are 'bad' (as highlighted by Brian Henderson's Arable Matters column on page 22) is a case in point.

Within this work there is a whole raft of information, but like when yield mapping was first introduced 20-odd years ago, it's what to do with that information that is the conundrum. That farming in certain ways has influenced soil health and wealth is not in doubt, but just how to help the balance in our soils remains a moot point.

Then there is how to improve the earth's ability to sequester carbon and store it in the fight against climate change. With that in mind, it would be good if the doubters against the rationale of the findings of the farmer-led groups on sustainably farming, but with the goal of a net zero industry, actually read the reports from the various groups.

Within them, they will find that there are many solutions and substantive assistance built in for improving soil health and structure and that this will, in turn, form the building blocks of a farming economy that can deliver on production and a reduced carbon footprint. Balancing pH is one of those topics which comes up as a theme through some of the reports and this zeroes in on the fact that highly intensive silage-making and use of slurry combine to raise acidity – and that's why there are recommendations in the FLG's reports that liming is a husbandry method that should be supported to bring balance to pH.

As with most things in life ... balance is the key!

Fodder plans

THE drone of forage harvesters working with barely a harrumph has been a feature of the better weather for every part of Scotland this past week or so. It certainly won't have been the thickness of the crop, or the dampness in it that brings any extra growl to the harvester's working ability.

All the more reason then to make the most of what you have and start planning for what might be a lack of winter forage now. Choosing to crimp grain, rather than harvest it dry; making arable silage; or planting crops which will provide a proven way of extending the grazing season, are all in the frame for that aim.

But even as early June, it's time to make those decisions. For some ideas on how to make the most of what you have available, turn to our second-cut silage special on pages 33 to 38.