Report into pH, soil organic carbon helps improves local understanding of carbon farming

Report into pH, soil organic carbon improves local understanding of carbon farming

Riverine Plains has recently completed a region-first project looking into the viability and practicality of increasing soil carbon for trading through the Australian Government’s Emission Reduction Fund.

As part of the project, and with the support of the Cool Soil Initiative, paddocks were sampled to determine baseline soil pH and soil organic carbon using the  methods set out in the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Stocks of soil organic carbon were calculated for each paddock, with a specific paddock example used to determine what a 0.5% increase in soil carbon might look like in terms of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit, (the unit of trade for the Emission Reduction Fund).

The calculations, based on a pasture paddock near Springhurst, showed the potential financial gains from carbon farming to be modest, with the returns also weighed against the sampling, auditing and reporting costs of participating in the Emission Reduction Fund.

The project highlighted how complex it can be to measure and validate any increase or change in soil organic carbon over time, and that trading carbon through the Emission Reduction Fund requires a thorough understanding of the process before committing.

Aside from carbon farming, one of the most important take-home messages from the project was that interactions between soil pH and soil organic carbon are complex, and that soil pH is a key parameter driving the soil’s ability to increase soil carbon, with low pH soils having reduced microbial activity and organic matter turnover.

For the full report, visit

This project was completed within the Cool Soil Initiative with partners Mars Petcare, Kellogg’s, Manildra Group and Allied Pinnacle, through the Sustainable Food Lab and Charles Sturt University (CSU), with additional funding through the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and participating growers. This project was also supported by the North East and Goulburn Broken CMAs through funding provided by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Soil organic carbon & pH online workshop – 23 March

An online workshop with Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci Pty Ltd)  will present the key findings from the Riverine Plains project “Quantifying in-paddock variations of soil organic carbon and pH” project. The project was funded through Goulburn Broken CMA’s “From the Ground Up” project and commenced in 2019.

The workshop will present the research results from this project and aims to increase the understanding of the interaction between soil organic carbon and pH, as well the need for updated sampling practices and opportunities for increasing soil organic carbon.

When: Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Time: 9.00am – 10.15am

Where: online

To register for this workshop, click here or contact Karen Brisbane – Bullock on 0409 955 396 or email

To download a pdf copy of the flyer, please click here.

Hyper Yielding Crops meeting – key points from 23 February meeting

Riverine Plains hosted Hyper Yielding Crops project meetings at Brocklesby and Rutherglen on Tuesday 23 February, 2021. Results from the Hyper Yielding Crops On-farm Focus Trials, as well as the results from the Hyper Yielding Crops technology centre at Wallendbeen were discussed, with presentations by Nick Poole and Tom Price (FAR Australia), Jon Midwood (TechCrop) and Kate Coffey (Riverine Plains).

More detailed results and information from the Hyper Yielding Crops field day are available by downloading the following presentations NSW HYC Grower meeting 23 Feb 2021 and 210223_HYC RP Innovation Groups

Key points from the On-farm Focus trials were;

Nitrogen trial, Howlong (Accroc wheat)

  • There were clear differences between the northern and southern parts of the paddock, based on the old fence line. The differences could be paddock history, soil type or past management or all of the above.
  • In the northern half of the paddock, there was a negative yield response to extra 100kg/ha urea (46kg N/ha) at GS30 in the strip trial. Yield decreased by 0.45t/ha and gross margin loss was $147/ha.
  • On the southern half of the paddock, the addition of 200kg/ha urea (92kgN/ha) at GS30 produced an extra 0.55t/ha, compared to the Nil urea at GS30 strip to the south. This gave break-even situation.
  • Grain protein (N content of the grain) of the highest yielding strip was only 8.3%.  With different N timings maybe the highest yielding treatment could have been even higher?

Fungicide trial, Culcairn (Trojan wheat)

  • Based on this trial, if stripe rust was left uncontrolled,  yield loss was up to 4.0t/ha.
  • Cogito at GS30, Prosaro at GS32 and Opus at GS39 gave the highest, significant (p<0.05), yield of 7.67t/ha. The additional gross margin from the application of fungicide was: $800/ha.
  • If farmers continue to grow susceptible varieties such as Trojan and Bennett, adding flutriafol on the fertilizer gives the grower significant improvement in levels of control. Fungicides will still be required at GS32 and GS39.

Nitrogen trial, Gerogery (HyTTec canola)

  • Based on this trial, an additional 80 kg/ha of urea at the yellow bud stage gave a significant (p=0.005) yield advantage over the overall paddock strategy. The gross margin of the additional applied nitrogen was $29/ha.
  • Increasing the rate of urea at yellow bud to 160 kg/ha urea didn’t increase yield significantly.
  • To optimize yield,  aim for a target flowering dry matter of 5t/ha. The trial reached this optimum amount of dry matter at flowering. Hybrids offer the potential for higher and more resilient yields over the open pollinated varieties.


Free Hands-on Precision Agriculture Training – Yarrawonga, March 1

23 February, 2021  

Word Count: 314 


 Registrations are now open for an introductory Hands-On Precision Agriculture (PA) Training workshop on Monday 1 March in Yarrawonga. 

 Adrian Roles, from JMAJ Consulting, a leading PA consultant and educator from Young in New South Wales, will facilitate the Riverine Plains and the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) workshop funded by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).  

This free, interactive workshop will provide growers with an overview of precision agriculture, and hands-on experience with a range of PA technologies and how they can be used to improve the productivity and profitability of their farm business. It will feature case studies from local farmers and PA experts,” Mr Roles said.  

 “Attendees will learn how to develop a basic PA plan, assembling a PA team, and identifying the tools and technologies they either have, or will need, to successfully implement PA on their farm,” Mr Roles finished.  

 Workshop sessions will focus on proven technologies and practices currently in use by growers and advisors including: 

  • how to identify variability (yield mapping, remote sensing, soil and pH mapping, in season monitoring) 
  • how to identify the key causes of yield and profit variability (including acidity/alkalinity, nutrient deficiencies, weed pressure, water logging etc.) 
  • techniques to address yield and profit variability (variable rate, in paddock blending) 
  • predictive analytics (yield forecasts, input management, pest and disease forecasts) 
  • mobile device, tablet and computer based integrative/farm management platforms. 
  • case studies from local farmer Adam Inchbold and PA experts. 

 A second, more advanced workshop will be held later in the year and will build upon the experience gained and the data collected during the 2021 growing season. 

 For more information please visit the Riverine Plains Inc website at or contact Riverine Plains, on (03) 5744 1713. Registration is essential as attendancis limited to 20 people.  Register by email to Fiona Hart at  


More Information or Interview: Fiona HartChief Operating Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)  

Hyper Yielding Crops Meeting – Brocklesby & Rutherglen 23 February

Riverine Plains will host meetings at Brocklesby and Rutherglen on Tuesday 23 February, 2021, to discuss the results from the Hyper Yielding Crops On-farm Focus Trials, as well as the results from the Hyper Yielding Crops technology centre at Wallendbeen.

To view the file as a pdf, please download the HYC February Meeting flyer.

RSVP’s are essential; to RSVP please email Kate Coffey, HYC Regional Project Officer at or phone 03 5744 1713

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting, 2021

21 January, 2021

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Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting, 2021

Riverine Plains will host the annual Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting on Thursday 4 February, 2021. This long-standing community event continues the tradition started by the late John Sykes and is an opportunity for grain and mixed farmers to discuss the 2020 season as well as the key issues likely to arise in 2021.

Riverine Plains CEO, Catherine Marriott said the group was especially excited to be able to host this event given the impacts of COVID over the past 12 months.

“Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting has a reputation for being a great way to start the season, with the debrief, planning sessions and presentations all helping to focus us on the season ahead” she said.

“It will also provide one of the first opportunities for grain farmers on both sides of the border to come together as a group to discuss production issues, and catch up with each other, since COVID restrictions began” added Catherine.

Timely rains and good growing conditions during 2020 helped most Riverine Plains region farmers achieve their target yields and Chris Minehan (Rural Management Strategies) will unpick the season with a facilitated harvest debrief, followed by a planning session to help identify potential issues for 2021.

Unlocking yield potential in seasons such as 2020 (or any year), requires an understanding of the constraints and agronomic practices needed in the system. To help address this, Nick Poole (FAR Australia) will speak on wheat results from the Hyper Yielding Crops project, with Rohan Brill (BrillAg) also speaking on how to capitalise on canola in good seasons, using lessons from the 2020 Hyper Yielding Crops research project.

Dr Cassandra Schefe (AgriSci) will also speak on stubbles, soils and farming systems, while Ed Nixon (IK Caldwell) and Beau Longmire will provide a local update and a farmer’s perspective on delving. The program will conclude with an agronomic panel discussion with Rob Harrod (Elders), Mark Harris (Rural Management Strategies) and Rosie Dye (IK Caldwell).

Sykesy’s Buraja Meeting will be held on Thursday 4 February, 2021 at the Buraja Recreational Ground Hall, from 8:30am – 12:50pm, followed by a complimentary BBQ lunch. Due to COVID regulations, capacity is limited and RSVP’s are compulsory, with places allocated on a first-in basis. Please email Fiona at to RSVP.

For more information please visit the Riverine Plains Inc website at or contact Riverine Plains, on (03) 5744 1713.

“Following on from a really positive 2020 season, Riverine Plains is very much looking forward to the local farming community joining us for Sykesy’s Buraja Day and to sharing the learnings from 2020” concluded Catherine.

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



More Information or Interview:

Catherine Marriott, Chief Executive Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)

New SMS Harvest Fire Index Alert for members aims to reduce harvesting fires


In a first for the region’s grain growers, farming systems group Riverine Plains has launched a new text messaging service for members, alerting them to when conditions become dangerous for harvesting.

Riverine Plains Chair and Howlong farmer, Ian Trevethan, said the text service has been designed to update farmers on local weather conditions in real time, with an SMS alert sent to farmers when weather conditions become dangerous for harvesting.

“As farmers, we can get so focussed in the day-to-day running of harvest that we can easily become disconnected to the changing weather outside our air-conditioned cabins – getting a text message alert to changing weather conditions in real-time may help reduce the risk of a harvester-fire starting in dangerous conditions” he said.

The alert system was developed by Riverine Plains, in conjunction with IK Caldwell, and is based on the Grass Fire Index (GFI) system used by fire authorities and utilises the Riverine Plains Inc network of weather stations located across south eastern NSW and north east Victoria.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Corteva AgriScience, Riverine Plains members are able to access the new SMS service for free in time for the 2020 harvest.

Dan Dixon, Corteva Agriscience’s Marketing Director for Australia and New Zealand, said that Corteva Agriscience was proud to support the alert service, which would help minimise the risk of a fire starting through on-farm activities.

“Many of our farmer customers are active members of their volunteer local fire brigades and we are pleased to be involved in this project which will help protect the lives and properties of growers, their families and the wider community this summer” said Dan.

Riverine Plains weather stations linked to the new SMS Harvest Fire Index Alert include; Barooga, Berrigan, Culcairn, Henty, Howlong, Lockhart, Pleasant Hills and Rand in NSW, as well as Bungeet, Miepoll, Rutherglen, Telford and Yabba South in Victoria. The Riverine Plains network of weather stations and soil moisture probes can be accessed at

“Harvesting conditions can deteriorate quite quickly and the text service is designed to help farmers be more aware of the conditions which would quickly see a fire get out of control, should one start, even with protective measures in place” said Ian.

“That said, pulling up harvest is always the right course of action if you feel it is potentially dangerous to keep harvesting, with or without, an alert” he added.

For further information, please contact the Riverine Plains Office on 03 5744 1713.


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