Avon Basin soils under the microscope

Friday, November 21st 2008

The results from a comprehensive study into the health of soil on farming land in the Avon River Basin have finally been released.

One of the major findings was that organic matter and microbial activity are a significant source of nutrients during the growing season.

The research also confirms soil acidity is constraining production.

The three year study was funded by the Avon Catchment Council and involved more than 80 farmers across 264 sites.

They were selected from the catchments of Gabby Quoi Quoi (Konnongorring), Greenhills/Beverley, Wickepin, Corrigin, Mukinbudin and Kellerberrin.

The ACC’s Dan Ferguson says the research will help farmers get a better picture of their soil health and what management practices can improve it.

“Many farmers rely on consultants from the fertiliser industry to do their soil testing, which is limited in what is measured,” Dan Ferguson said.

“This has been a far more comprehensive look at soil biology, soil chemistry as well as the physical structure of the soil.”’

Researchers from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA and the University of WA took the soil samples.

They targeted areas under cereal crops to find out what impact this was having on soil health.

The researchers are now interpreting the results to find out if there are any other trends or key drivers of soil health.

One of the areas they will focus on will be analysing the quality and quantity of carbon held in soils, which is important for plant growth.

The project has now been extended into other areas of WA and New South Wales.

The information can be accessed at www.soilquality.org.au
Media Contact: Dan Ferguson, Avon Catchment Council, 9690 2250