The role of leys in restoring soil quality in arable farming
Leys are suggested in the 25 year Environment Plan as ways to improve soil and land management. How effective are they and what are the benefits from reintroducing leys into arable rotations? This session present recent findings on the restorative effects of traditional grass-clover leys and species-rich herbal leys on soil quality and on subsequent crop yields. Leys increased wheat yield and reduced fertilizer requirements, substantially improving soil structure, hydrological functioning, soil biology, and chemistry- including organic matter. These effects are driven by recovery of beneficial ecosystem-engineer soil biota such as earthworms and mycorrhizal fungi- providing a positive restorative feedback.