The front end of 2020 saw a surge in demand for allotments across the UK. Research on allotments commonly focuses on the socioeconomic benefits to the grower of a home-grown food supply. Research on the soils within allotments is fairly limited by comparison.
When we heard from a friend of the company that they were planning to overwinter parts of their plot using different techniques, the opportunity to do a little bit of experimentation was too good to pass up!
The treatments adopted are: green manure (field beans); farmyard manure; and no treatment. A small pit was dug in each section to examine the physical soil properties and a sample was taken from each to determine some chemical properties, including levels of soil organic carbon. Sub-samples were air dried and used to conduct slake tests. This test determines aggregate stability which in turn is an indicator used in assessing soil health.
The whole process will be repeated in the spring. The sample size is admittedly minute but it is hoped that the results will give some insight on the potential for allotment soil health and carbon stocks to grow as well as 2020’s vegetable crop!