The ins and outs of soil health

Investigating soil health and dry climate

The ins and outs of soil health

Investigating soil health and dry climate

Collaborations -

LP011-010

The issue

Best practice pasture management has been linked to improved soil health in agricultural landscapes. We wanted to investigate management techniques in Boree Creek. This project assessed the soil chemistry and biology of four different land management systems (alley plantings, pasture cropping, standard pastures, and native woodland) on five farm properties and a state forest in Boree Creek.

Comparing the soil of these different management systems would provide practical information to facilitate discussions on the impact of each system based on various soil parameters. Farmers in the community might then better understand and share ways in which their management practices influence soil health.

The solution

Through this project, we:

  1. Analysed the soil chemical and biological properties in paddocks on five Boree Creek farms (including alley farming, pasture cropping, and traditional pasture only and one State Forest).
  2. Compared and contrasted soil chemical and biological properties from all tests, and related this information to underlying geology, current and historical management practices, and presence/absence of native trees or shrubs.
  3. Surveyed all farmers involved in the project to understand management practices on the paddocks surveyed.

Shared information with the local community on how soil management practices influence soil health through a workshop, case study and fact sheet.

The impact

A workshop, attended by 13 local landholders, detailed the various chemical, physical and biological attributes of soils, and the importance of pastures in building soil organic matter. Soil test results were collated and presented to the workshop attendees. Comparisons were made with historical soil data across the district, including the link to underlying geology. We then spent time investigating a soil pit at Graham and Amanda Strong’s property, demonstrating practical field-based soil tests which farmers can use to assess soil health

Key facts

  • Increasing the size of the root ball of living plants can improve soil structure and plant water availability and can increase soil organic matter
  • The pasture phase of any land management enterprise is integral to building up soil organic matter and can enhance soil organism activity to improve nutrient cycling

Project Partners