Thursday, 18th February 2010
Broadacre farmer Trevor Syme is one of 12 Wheatbelt landholders helping to tackle wind and water erosion by improving the soil on his Bolgart farm. He has successfully applied for a grant of $31,000 through Wheatbelt NRM to trial the use of clay on white sandy soils. “We want to find the optimum amount of clay and the best way to mix it into paddocks, to help stop wind erosion and improve crop yields,” Trevor Syme said. Non-wetting white sandy soils affect about two million hectares of land in the South West of WA. “Spreading clay can cost upwards of $750 a hectare, but we’ve already seen an increase in wheat yields by more than one tonne to the hectare.” “The clay is sourced from on-farm and helps to improve the structure of the white sandy soil and its ability to hold water.” Other landholders in the Wheatbelt are also being encouraged to follow Mr Syme’s lead and apply for grants under the Soil Conservation Incentives Program. The first round of the project in January resulted in $345,000 spent on tackling wind erosion in the Wheatbelt. The Wheatbelt NRM’s Dan Ferguson said landholders can now apply for Round Two. “Landholders can apply for grants of between $5000 and $50,000 to trial or demonstrate farm practices that protect the soil from wind erosion,” Dan Ferguson said. “This is not a new issue for Wheatbelt farmers, who have long recognised the damage eroding fertile top soil can have.” Projects can include integrating tree cropping into farming systems, and demonstrating or trialling cropping and grazing management practices that control wind erosion. The deadline for Round Two of applications is Monday, 15th March 2010. Funding for the project is through the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program. To download the application form, go to www.wheatbeltnrm.org.au/tenders/SCIP.