In early 2019 BASIS is set to launch two brand new qualifications that will arm candidates with the knowledge and skills to help manage soils for enhanced  quality, biodiversity and long-term sustainability.

Foundation in Soils

Dr Aliona Jones, BASIS technical manager, explains that the ‘Foundation in Soils’ qualification will enable farmers and advisers to understand the relationship between physical structure, and the biological or chemical processes, that contribute to the quality of a soil.

“Farmers are increasingly finding that soil quality and productivity are complementary, so the training will focus on how farming practices can positively and negatively influence a soil’s functionality.

“For example, it’s well known that use of heavy machinery can lead to compaction, and overstocking grazing land can cause poaching. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that lower levels of stocking can beneficially return nutrients to the soil.”

She adds that monitoring changes within the soil, and assessing trends is another essential aspect of management, that will be covered in the syllabus.

Quality of Soils

The second qualification will build on the success of existing BASIS modules, and acts as a step-up from the ‘Foundation in Soils’, giving further insight into improving the resilience of farming systems through increased understanding of the soil ‘ecosystem’.

“A fully functioning soil with appropriate structure, chemistry and biology will enable symbiotic interaction with plants, which improves resilience to machinery traffic as well as weather extremes, such as the cold spell and drought we’ve seen this year,” says Aliona.

She explains that the two courses have come to fruition following a clear industry demand.

“The overarching feedback from our ‘Soil and Water’ course candidates, as well as two membership surveys, highlighted the high demand of training relating to soil quality enhancement  as well as biodiversity.”

Course details

Foundation in Soils

·        Level four (higher education) certificate accredited by Harper Adams University

·        Four to five day short-course

·        1.5 hour examination time

o   25 question multiple choice paper

o   Five question short answer paper

Quality of Soils

·        Level six (graduate) certificate accredited by Harper Adams University

·        Five day short-course

·        2.5 hour examination time

o   Six out of ten short answer questions

o   VIVA examination to assess applied knowledge and understanding in a practical context