The England pilot site offers an exciting opportunity to showcase how transitioning to organic farming can improve soil health. It also provides valuable data and insights for a project that connects local communities with sustainable agriculture.




Woodoaks Farm was generously donated to the Soil Association Land Trust with the vision of farming the land sustainably through a transition to organic practices. The farm’s mission is to promote a climate-friendly future through environmentally conscious farming and to reconnect local communities with food and agriculture by supporting farm enterprises and creating a sustainable food hub.


The site is a 300-acre farm in South-East England, Hertfordshire, largely made up of arable, pastureland and around 75 acres of semi-natural woodland. At the site, an enterprise-stacking technique is in place where farm businesses are ‘layered’ on top of each other, all connecting and benefiting one another. Current enterprises on the farm include an alkaline market garden and fruit forest, a flower garden, a cafe, brewery and film rental enterprise.


Soil health indicators chosen


Sampling and analysis at the pilot site will cover the baseline indicators for the project, with sampling sites located through the probability based stratified random approach devised by OpenGeoHub in the AI4SH consortium. Baseline indicators include soil texture, organic carbon, pH, electrical conductivity, phosphorus status, total nitrogen, cation exchange capacity, and bulk density.


The site is also aiming to test AI4SH’s novel health indicators including spectroscopy, enzymatic activity, macrofauna and eDNA.


Data collected by this pilot site


Sampling through this project will mark only the second comprehensive set of soil samples since the pilot site transitioned to Soil Association ownership, initiating the move towards organic farming. The AI4SH sampling programme presents an exciting opportunity to observe how organic farming techniques impact soil health in this area of the UK.


In addition to validating the AI4SH data cube, the data collected from this project will provide valuable insights for various farming enterprises and will inform future activities at Woodoaks. information regarding methods, protocols, and outcomes of the project will also support Soil Association Exchange, a nascent project serving UK farmers by compiling and benchmarking soil and other ecosystem data from UK farms.


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