Smart Farms Small Grants – Soil Extension Project
Supporting farmers to improve their soils in the Riverine Plains
This project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment through the ‘National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants – an Australian Government initiative.
This project is co-funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation
The project aims to give farmers a better understanding of their soils and how soils can be managed to improve production and water retention.
Soil issues in the Riverine Plains region are complex and can be segmented through the soil profile (ie acidity may not be present at the surface but can be quite profound at 15cm depth), and this means that soil testing needs to be comprehensive in order to understand where problems lie. Traditional soil testing at 0-10cm depth does not pick up deeper soil issues, however comprehensive soil mapping, ground truthing of soils and amelioration is expensive, and this has traditionally been a disincentive for farmers.
This project aims to support land managers by promoting the benefits of increased frequency and comprehensiveness of soil sampling and testing to inform soil management decisions and take action to improve soil health.
The project will see the establishment of two farmer discussion groups through which high priority soils issues (such as sodicity, poor structure and low organic carbon levels) will be identified. Participants will be involved in soil testing and have the opportunity to engage with soil scientists at field walks, workshop and demonstrations designed to test and evaluate soil amelioration strategies (such as lime incorporation and sub-soil incorporation of organic materials).
The Soil Extension Project will:
- Support land managers and farmers to participate in soil testing and the interpretation of results,
- Improve knowledge and understanding of mapping and ground-truthing soil types in paddocks,
- Demonstrate innovative land management practices that protect and manage the soil resource in paddocks to improve efficiency, production and soil health,
- Improve the understanding of the value of soil data as an important part of land management decision making,
- Support land managers and farmers to contribute soils data to relevant national databases,
- Help establish baselines for current soil physical, chemical and biological status to provide a basis for farmers to make strategic decisions and identify future management practices, ameliorants and nutrient requirements to correct possible imbalances,
- Contribute to delivering sustainable, productive and profitable farm businesses,
- Improve farmers’ understanding and knowledge of soil constraints in paddocks and estimate the cost of the constraint to future production and water storage of soils.
To learn more, or to be involved in the Discussion Groups, please contact Riverine Plains Project Officer Rhiannan McPhee on 03 5744 1713 or email email@example.com