New Murchison region discussion group to help farmers improve soil water use

10 August, 2021

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New Murchison region discussion group to help farmers improve soil water use

Riverine Plains is pleased to announce it is coordinating a new project which involves the establishment of a new discussion group for farmers in the Murchison district of Victoria.

The Improving Soil to Optimise Water Use On Farm project is funded until 2023 by the Australian Government through the Future Drought Fund Natural Resource Management Drought Resilience Program – Grants, and aims to address soil quality parameters and how these are linked to storing more rainfall for crop production.

Riverine Plains Project Officer, Kate Coffey, explained that soil quality parameters such as pH, CEC and soil organic carbon can affect how much moisture is stored in soils, with healthier soils being more likely to be able to store moisture for later use, such as during a dry spring.

“The first step in improving a soil’s ability to store moisture is understanding the constraints present in the soil and this can be done using yield and EM38 mapping, followed by soil testing to ground-truth or confirm the presence of the soil limitation” said Ms Coffey.

“Once a constraint, such as subsoil acidity, has been identified it can then be managed through lime application or other methods to improve crop production and profitability” added Ms Coffey.

The project aims to increase awareness and knowledge around the identification of key local constraints, such as sub-soil acidity, and also involves the demonstration of innovative methods that protect and manage the soil resource.

To this end, a local trial will be established to demonstrate stubble management as a tool to improve soil moisture retention, with the trial also acting as a focus for the discussion group through local field days and workshops.

“Overall, the project will provide farmers with a better understanding of their soils and knowledge of how soil can be managed to improve production and water retention, which will ultimately help improve resilience for future droughts” concluded Ms Coffey.

For further information, or to register your interest in becoming a Discussion Group member, please contact Riverine Plains Project Officer, Kate Coffey, on (03) 5744 1713 or email

Riverine Plains is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales. For more information, or to become a member, please visit