GRDC Soils Extension

Extension of best practice principles for identifying and managing soil limitations in southern and central NSW

Funding: GRDC
Project Partners: FarmLink, NSW DPI Soil and Water R and D Unit, other Farming System Groups (Central West Farming Systems, Riverine Plains, Harden Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigated Research and Extension Committee, Southern Growers Inc.
Project Code: FLR1909-001SAX
Project Duration: September 01, 2019 - March 30, 2021


FarmLink has partnered with the NSW DPI and a number of other Farming System Groups to deliver a range of soils extension material and activities throughout southern and central NSW in this 20 month project commencing in September 2019.
Key project outcomes are split between extension resources and an extension workshop series.
NSW DPI will develop the range of extension resources, including one-page technical sheets, four-page topic summaries (to be compiled into a Soil Limitations Resource book) and multimedia material (videos and podcasts). Topics that will be covered include:
• Characterising common soil types present in Southern NSW and Central NSW.
• Identifying soil limitations: soil acidity, sodicity, dispersive, compacted, poorly structured soils, chemical or nutrient deficiencies/toxicity, hard pans/compaction, poor water infiltration, susceptibility to water logging, hostile subsoils or difficult duplex soil types.
• Understanding and measuring the water holding capacity and plant availability of soil water by soil type.
• Impacts of soil type and soil constraints on crop choice, crop/pasture rotations and tillage regime.
• Interaction between Carbon and Nitrogen in cropping systems
• Understanding the impact soil constraints have on plant growth. Using plants as an indicator of potential soil limitations including but not limited to rooting depth, leaf symptoms of common constraints, deficiencies or toxicities.
• Common soil ameliorants, including lime and gypsum and the impact of particle size, product type, application rates, methods and timing, interaction with cultivation and movement in soil.
• Use of new and emerging ameliorants (to be developed if sufficient information is ready for extension).
• Crop yield and profit benefits from addressing soil limitations.

FarmLink will plan and co-ordinate the extension workshop series, which will be delivered in conjunction with partner/collaborating organisations (e.g. CWFS, Holbrook Landcare, Riverine Plains, IREC). Eight workshops will be held in total, with proposed locations including Holbrook, Urana, Griffith, Temora, Condobolin, Finley, Deniliquin and Tottenham.
Each workshop will facilitate a maximum of 25 participants (growers and advisors), with both indoor and in-field components. Activities will include indoor presentations/theory activities, soil pits/cores, and the provision of a workbook containing reference material as developed by NSW DPI. Appropriate soil testing, soil pit excavation and soil characterisation will be required in advance of each workshop. FarmLink will be responsible for overseeing communication and promotion of the workshop series, as well as capturing evaluation material and reporting on the effectiveness of the workshop series.

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