A one-day course on promoting and preserving soil health, using problem-based learning methods run by Niels Corfield. The course provides a detailed introduction to soil health principles and how they can be applied to a growing operation,  simple testing methods to measure soil health and soil carbon and  management techniques for better soil health such as cover crops & crop rotations, amendments, biochar, composting and more.

Throughout the day you will cover the following topics:
  • The empirical case for good soil management
  • How different strategies affect soil structure
  • Slake test etc
  • Defining Soil Health
  • How it's articulated, and
  • How to measure it
  • Evidence for soil health: aggregates etc
  • Spade tests/visual soil inspection
  • Soil food web
  • Theory and relevance
  • Soil organic matter and soil carbon
  • What is it and how it differs from straight organic matter
  • Composting systems 
  • Fast hot composting
  • Wormeries
  • Cover crops
  • Novel types: cocktail cover crops etc
  • Selecting/designing mixtures appropriate to your situation
  • Selecting appropriate soil management practices, to:
  • Preserve soil structure and biology
  • Accumulate SOM and soil carbon
  • Minimise weed burdens
  • Rotations and crop planning exercise
  • Identifying points of intervention in existing rotations to improve soil health
  • Exercise - based on student's own examples
  • Site planning
  • Sizing operations for best returns
  • Maximising productivity
  • Amendments
  • Biochar, compost, minerals etc
  • Nutrients and Nitrogen
  • Which fixes more N: clovers or maize?
  • Monitoring and testing
  • DIY soil health tests
  • Lab tests
  • Measuring plant health
  • Brix, plant sap pH
  • Trials and experimentation
  • Setting-up and running your own small-scale trials
  • Comparative, split-field and controls
  • Practicals (options)
  • Biochar pit burn
  • Starting a hot compost pile

Course Schedule
Morning – theory & first principles
Lunch – packed lunch
Afternoon – tours & rotation planning exercise

This course is suitable for: market gardeners, growers,  nursery workers, horticulture managers, apprentices & trainee growers.  


Course Leader - Niels Corfield

Niels Corfield has been working to deliver a truly sustainable food system for over 10 years. 

He is an advisor, researcher, educator, designer, grower and nurseryman. Working to create sustainable/regenerative landscapes, farms and spaces in the UK and Europe. He is focussed on agro-ecological systems that are low maintenance and productive.

He advises and consults on: soil health, agroforestry, planned grazing and setting-up on-farm crop trials.  He provides whole-farm planning and design services for transition farm operations, through an inclusive/participatory framework.

He also offers a specialist mapping service to growers and farmers to facilitate decision-making and planning.

He is a soils researcher, technician and demonstrator and is coordinating the PFLA soils monitoring project - establishing an empiric case for healthy soils on pasture and mixed farms. As well as conducting a cover crops trial on arable and horticulture operations in the UK. He has carried-out on-farm soil assessments with a number of farmers and growers in the SW, Wales, the SE and the North.

He delivers specialist training courses for farmers, growers and land managers. He is a demonstrator of in-field monitoring practices and surveying on-farm.

He is committed to an information-lead approach to land-based decision making and management practices. He works closely with Sectormentor, SioBio Lab & Field Margin.

He designs and installs rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems for growers in the UK.



Course times: 10am - 4.30pm

We are operating a sliding scale on ticket prices for this event. Please select your ticket based on your income.

Please note there is no lunch provided on this course. Please bring your own packed lunch.