Ben Gibbons awarded BSSS Best Student at the Royal Agricultural University 2018
Ben Gibbons completed a challenging dissertation entitled ‘An analysis of how different soil management techniques, in a range of farming systems impact soil health’. Ben quantified soil health by using a visual assessment of the soil by digging a hole and assessing biological activity, colour and general health and an infiltration test. The farmers’ soil management actions were graded in a semi structured questionnaire to determine how proactive the farmer had been in implementing soil improvement methods as covered in the literature review.
The results of his study were interesting as the farmers who are the most proactive regarding soil improvement were very harsh on themselves for the scoring of soil health on their farms but those who were less focussed on soil improvement generally believed their soils were in a better state then they were actually in.
Ben's supervisor, Dr Nicola Cannon said ‘Ben was really keen to find out how farmers are impacting soil health by their management actions and if these are being seen in the soil. He worked with a wide range of farm types as he wanted to investigate how mixed farming and alternative farming systems influenced soil health rather than working solely on arable systems’.
Ben has been given a free one year membership to the Society in addition to the award.