Soils Research Review – Fleurieu region

We have conducted a comprehensive “Soils Research Review”  of soils trails, research and demonstration sites in the Fleurieu region including those relevant to the region.  The review outlines the main outcomes of each project and gaps and recommendations for future soils research in the region.  Click here for a copy of the report – Soils Research Review

Biochar Trial

We have a biochar trial underway. The site has been mapped out and is at 2381 Range Rd, Willow Creek, SA.  The trial design is shown in the image below.  The biochar has been broadcast 10cm below the soil surface with N fertiliser.  Acid tolerant Lucerne and Phalaris were sown on top of this in mid August 2016. This biochar video shows the trial being sown and discusses the trial.   A demonstration day will be set to demonstrate the outcomes of this trial in Autumn 2017.   Project results will also be posted here.


Precision pH and Electro Magnetic Mapping Demonstration

Soil acidity is recognised as a major land degradation issue in the Fleurieu region. Historically, liming has occurred on a paddock by paddock basis and no account has been taken of pH variations across paddocks. pH mapping has the ability to determine in – paddock variation and lead to improve liming strategies which are both more cost effective and efficient in the treatment of soil acidity. This new technique will be undertaken on 10 paddocks on at least 5 farms.  We expect this will be on around 300ha. Key aims will be to provide information on how well this new practice works in this region. This will include the accuracy of the technique and whether useful differences are observed and, if so, what landscape patterns are evident. For this reason, demonstrations will be undertaken on a range of different properties, soils and grazing regimes.

On each paddock evaluation of pH zones determined will be undertaken. In addition to producing the precision pH maps, evaluation work will be focussed on whether there is a relationship between surface pH zones identified and the pH in the 10-20cm layer ( i.e. subsurface acidity), and whether distinct landform patterns occur within the region so variation in pH can be estimated in other paddocks without the need for further testing.

The precision pH mapping machine has the capacity to undertake Electro Magnetic (EM) mapping at the same time. EM scanning should reflect the soil types, depth and depth to rock and clay so an evaluation of this technique will also be made. This may assist with the identification of moisture storage capability of different soil profiles.

The pH mapper results across the 10 paddocks and report can be found here.

Replicated soil health trials and case studies

We are conducting a replicated soil health trial, with 4 treatments and a control.  The treatments are designed to build the soil health, microbes bacteria and fungi as well as supply trace elements and minerals back to the plant.  Pasture quality and feed test measurements will be taken and soil health tests.  All of the data will be reported on along with an economic analyses.

We also have 7 case study sites.  4 of the sites have had a history of using alternative fertilisers and 3 have a history of using chemicals.  Each of these sites has a control where no chemical or alternative fertilisers were used. The same measurements to the replicated soil health sites will be taken and reported on by July 2018 and results will be available here as well as advertised field days.  Be sure to add your name to the contacts list.

Soil Moisture Probes

At each of our replicated soil health trials and case study sites we have a soil mosture probe and a probe also into the control.  There are 5 sensors on each probe down to 5 depths.  We measure Plant Available Water (PAW), soil mositure, soil temperature and rainfall.  The soil moisture probe data can be viewed here

For other soil moisture data information:

Link into the Barossa Improved Grazing group data here

Link into the SAMDB NRM network here

Taking the Next Step – Development and Expansion of the Fleurieu Forward Farming Group

The former steering committee decided in early 2017 that it was timely to consider the development of an expanded, ongoing group, with a more defined purpose and structure. Members of the steering committee and a number of interested local farmers undertook a strategic planning process that defined the group’s purpose and preferred structure and governance arrangements going forward. Implementation of the strategic plan so far has resulted in the appointment of a skills and representative based Board of local primary producers, landholders and agricultural service providers. The new Board was launched at a special event at the McCracken Country Club on 26th April 2018. The group has applied to become an incorporated association, which will enable it to deal with funding partners and manage projects in its own right. A number of processes and procedures to support the Board’s and group’s operations are being developed.

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