4 December, 2023
Word Count: 549
Drought is an inevitable part of farming in Australia and Riverine Plains are aiming to help farmers improve their drought resilience though a significant project that is taking research from small plot trials and testing it on farms across Southern NSW.
The project’s efforts coincide with World Soil Day on 5th December 2023, emphasising the critical role of soil management in ensuring sustainable farming practices and the preservation of agricultural ecosystems for future generations.
“This World Soil Day, we want to shine a spotlight on soil management across Southern NSW, and this project is just one example of the work we are doing to help farmers sustainably manage this vital asset,” said Dr Sara Hely, Chief Operating Officer of Riverine Plains.
Some of the biggest soil management challenges farmers face in the region is maintaining moisture, carbon and nutrients in their soil. Dr Sara Hely explained the new project is looking to address these challenges and is focused on strategies to manage soil and available water to ensure farmers are better able to cope with drought.
“Droughts are unpredictable in their timing and duration, and this project focuses on increased plant diversity, early sowing and nitrogen-banking as key strategies that can help farming businesses manage drought, compared with conventional farming practices,” said Dr Hely.
“Previous small-scale field trials in NSW, has identified three strategies to increase profitability and productivity by increasing soil moisture and the prevention of carbon and nutrient loss under drought conditions,” added Dr Hely.
The demonstrations aim to show how diversity, early sowing and nitrogen-banking can be applied across a number of different soil types, environments, and land uses on commercial farms.
The project consists of 12 demonstration trials across Southern NSW, with sites located at Boomanoomana, Rand, Howlong, Mulwala, Holbrook, Corinella, Condobolin, Yarrabandai, Galong, Springvale, Temora and Tocumwal.
This is the first collaboration between Riverine Plains, Farming Systems Group Alliance, CSIRO and NSW DPI that integrates both the adoption and the validation of research at the farm level.
Dr John Kirkegaard, Chief Research Scientist, with CSIRO said his vision was to create a linked project such as this, and establishing local trials in collaboration with local farming systems groups so that management strategies tried and tested by researchers could now be validated on-farm with growers and advisors.
“This project represents an opportunity in farming systems research to learn directly from the experiences of farmers, leading to much boarder and effective adoption of this research for a more sustainable grains industry in the long-term”, added Dr Kirkegaard.
Results from the trials will be shared with growers at field days, online, through the Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs, and other agencies.
The project, Improved drought resilience through optimal management of soil and water, is led by Southern NSW Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub based at Charles Sturt University, in partnership with Riverine Plains, and in collaboration with CSIRO and Dr John Kirkegaard, NSW Department of Primary Industries, and farming systems groups, FarmLink Research, Central West Farming Systems, and Southern Growers.
This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund Drought Resilient Soils and Landscapes Grants Program and is co-funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.
Riverine Plains Inc 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 www.riverineplains.org.au
More information or interview:
Claudia Powell, Riverine Plains Communications Manager on (03) 5744 1713 or email email@example.com