Natural Resources South East

Enhancing Soil Health

This project aims to directly enhance soil health by increasing the skills and knowledge of landholders to address soil degradation issues related to erosion, acidification and soil carbon content in identified high priority areas in the South East region, and providing funding to continue to monitor 4 demonstration farm sites to demonstrate best practice soil management techniques and establish 2 new demonstration farms.  The project will also deliver two additional rounds of Market Based Instrument ‘Soil Tender’ (MBI) in identified high risk areas of soil acidification and erosion, featuring a customised soils management plan for each participating land manager, delivered by a soil scientist. The project officer will also provide technical support and continuing education sessions in nrmFARM, a free, web based farm planning and mapping tool hosted by the SE NRM Board on their website.  Project learning’s will be communicated by farm walks and field days open to the public and by factsheets and other materials on the project website.

 

This project has showcased a range of different soil management techniques to address issues such as soil and sub surface soil acidity, increasing soil carbon content and managing erosion. Landholders have been provided with information on how to identify their soil types and understand the issues that are specific to their soils. They have been given information on a wide range of soil management interventions and now have a better understanding how to improve the health of their soils

 

The six demonstration farms have 581.41ha under a range of trials including sub-soil manuring, clay spreading, delving, spading, liming, trace element mix trials, water softening magnets and green manuring.

 

MBI Soil Tender 2 added 420.4ha and MBI Soil Tender 3 a further 189ha, bringing the total farmed area under concentrated soil remediation and changed management practice to 916.4ha.

 

Noted improvements under these 2 components include

Visual:

·  Increase in pasture growth

·  Increased organic matter in soil (soil visually darker in colour)

Chemical:

·  Change in soil pH

·  Increase in nutrient available to plants and nutrients stored in the soil

However, many of the interventions applied will take some years to see significant effects.

 

651 land managers have registered to use nrmFARM since its inception in 2010.  This has been recently updated with 2013 aerial photo imagery to enable higher resolution maps to be produced.

 

Supported by funding from CfOC and SE NRM Levy, the project ran from July 2011 to June 2013.