For the past four years, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services has presented the Soil Health & Production Workshop series across the region with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Local Land Services Officer Beth Brown said the workshops are designed to broaden producers’ awareness and knowledge base through theory and hands-on application to gain the most from their operation, while protecting and enriching the soils on their land.
Ms Brown said that regardless of production methods, soil health is dependent upon three main elements.
“Having a healthy soil means having the physical, biological and chemical components all working together, resulting in effective nutrient cycling and water infiltration.”
The workshops are growing in popularity. The first workshop covers what a healthy soil looks like, how to assess this in the paddock and what can be done to improve or maintain a healthy soil.
“We consider soil structure, pH, water infiltration, soil biology and plant root growth, all from inside a soil pit in the paddock,” Ms Brown said.
“Soil nutrient cycling and how to take a sample for laboratory testing are topics that generate plenty of interest at the workshops.
“Participants also have the option to submit a soil sample from their property for laboratory analysis.”
The second workshop digs a little deeper by working through the test results from the soil samples submitted by participants.
“We encourage participants to work out what their limiting nutrients are and tailor their individual requirements towards the benchmarks,” Ms Brown said.
“Often, they will find that one nutrient may be high and they could reduce the need for that particular nutrient, but another major nutrient might be lacking which therefore needs to be supplemented.
“By figuring out what their limiting factors are and addressing them, they can improve their production,” she said.
She said the soil test outcomes from a Guyra workshop late in 2017 inspired the participants, including workshop participant Angela Landers.
“I’m really keen to go home, test more paddocks and make a plan for our nutrient requirements for our property, and apply what we actually need rather than just applying the standard,” Ms Landers said.
Ms Brown said they are planning another round of workshops for 2018 and she encourages landholders and producers to keep an eye on the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Facebook page, website, App or contact Beth Brown on 0429 773 453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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