The Soil Condition Score is a new tool for dairy farmers to assess the quality of their soils based on eight criteria, including soil structure, earthworms, rooting patterns and degree of mottling. Scientific research in the Beemster polder and other areas of the Netherlands has shown that the outcome of such visual assessments generally agrees with evaluations based on soil chemical analysis. The objective of this new tool is to further promote sustainable soil management in the Netherlands. The tool has been developed by Wageningen University and Boerenverstand, in collaboration with the Louis Bolk Institute and Livestock Research. Financial support comes from CONO Kaasmakers.
Integrated knowledge of soils is urgently needed
Dairy farmers know how much milk they produce, but often have less insight into their crop production or soil characteristics. However, given the ever more stringent nutrient management regulations - such as for phosphate - integrated knowledge of crop production in relation to soil quality is urgently needed. The project initiators expect that the Soil Condition Score will enable dairy farmers to maintain crop production levels with reduced nutrient inputs.
Launching the Soil Condition Score website
In 2013 the Dutch website www.mijnbodemconditie.nl ("mysoilcondition.nl") was launched. This website includes downloadable soil evaluation forms and a short instruction video on how to work with the Soil Condition Score. "The video provides an online demonstration of how to dig a soil pit and calculate your soil score based on soil structure, rooting patterns and soil biological activity," says soil scientist Nick van Eekeren of the Louis Bolk Institute. "Additionally, we developed a useful PDF (in Dutch) showing the four steps of digging a soil pit."