Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and Federal member for O’Connor Rick Wilson recently announced that six local groups will share in 17,000 in grants under the Australian Governments National Landcare Programme.
The grants will provide farmers and community groups with up to 0,000 to establish trials or demonstration sites to improve soil health.
“Funding local trials are critical to the agricultural industry. Farmers on the south coast can benefit from these trial happening in their backyard,” South Coast Natural Resource Management Southern Soils project officer Charlotte Powis said.
The grant round was well supported receiving 18 applications this year from individuals, producer and catchment groups.
“Farmers and community groups know the soil constraints of farming on the south coast and are looking at innovative ways to overcome these. Many of the applications were based around the challenges of soil acidity, soil erosion, water repellence and managing nutrient additions,” Charlotte Powis said.
South Coast NRM staff and technical experts from government agencies, agribusiness and the community assessed the applications and selected the six projects to be funded.
The trials will run until 10 2017 and a number of field days and events will be held over this time to showcase the results of the trials and to share the information learnt with the farming community”, Charlotte said.
Projects funded include two trials in the Esperance region investigating the effects on soil health of different break crop rotations and another quantifying the impact on soil fertility of perennial pasture cropping system in a cropping based enterprise.
A trial in the western Fitzgerald Biosphere will complement the final year of a five year trial by investigating four different nutrient systems on two different soil types and their effects on soil biology, nutrient status, crop production and pesticide residues.
A research project in the Wellstead area will address the issue of returning bluegum plantations to grazing land. The project will examine soil health and pasture nutrition on comparative demonstration plots post first rotation and second rotation blue gum plantations.
A further two projects in the Shire of Plantagenet will look at the issue of soil compaction and nil disturbance farming systems and there effects on productivity and soil health. Different tillage systems will be trial and the results assessed to determine if a system has more beneficial soil health outcomes.