19 January 2021
Intercropping for sustainability

Two-day Conference with AAB, DIVERSify and ReMIX at Reading University

6 September 2021
Organic World Congress 2021

New date! Postponed from September 2020

30 July 2020
ORC welcomes the National Food Strategy

The first major reviewof our food system in 75 years

24 July 2020
The future of organic farming and the environment

All to play for if full benefits of organic farming for wildlife, the environment and health are to be realised

29 April 2020
Tim Bennett is the new Chair of ORC

Former NFU president takes on chairmanship of Organic Research Centre

WOOdchip For Fertile Soils

Full project title:

WOOFS: WOOdchip For Fertile Soils



Contract period:

1 September 2017 to 1 September 2020

Main funder:

European Innovation Partnership (EIP), RDPE scheme

Contact staff at ORC:

Ms. Sally Westaway

Other staff involved:

Anja Vieweger

Project aims

There is evidence to suggest that the application of uncomposted (ramial) woodchip at an appropriate phase in a crop rotation can increase SOM, water holding capacity and nutrient levels of soils. However research on this subject is limited and with increasing awareness of soil health and the benefits of closed-system farming there is a need to further investigate this potential. This project will trial the addition of uncomposted vs composted woodchip from on-farm woody resources as a soil improver. By linking management of farm hedges and trees with the improvement of soils for agricultural production and providing an additional economic incentive for management of hedges and on-farm woody resources the project aims to increase the sustainability of the system as a whole. Through partnership with farmer, forestry and adviser groups results will be disseminated via a range of mechanisms including conferences, workshops, web material and technical leaflets.

The overall aim of the project is to both increase soil health and to provide an incentive for farmers to manage woody elements on their farm as part of a whole farm system. Replicated field trials will be set up on three farms in the South of England this winter and will run for three years, alongside the trails; a review of existing research and knowledge on the subject will be carried out and management plans for farm hedges and woodlands will be produced to ascertain the potential for on-farm production of ramial woodchip.

Specific objectives and outputs from the project are:

  • Determine whether applying woodchip (composted and un-composted) is beneficial to soil health and structure.
  • Identify an efficient methodology to produce and apply woodchip on farm.
  • Produce guidelines for farmers on optimum application rates, time of application, stage in a rotation, species of tree, size of chip etc.

ORC's role

Project leaders

Project leader and partners

The project is led by ORC with:
Wakelyns Agroforestry
Iain Tolhurst: Tolhurst Organic CiC
Ben Raskin: Soil Association
Christine Watson, SRUC
William Hamer, Forestry Consultant
Robert Benford, Down Farm
Nigel Stimson: Tree Shear Services

Project output