Farmers take up soil carbon improvements

News article |

Five Eyre Peninsula farmers are preparing to trial treatments and planting options, which will test out regenerative agriculture practices for improving soil carbon.

The soil carbon grants are part of a Regenerative Agriculture Program delivered by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board and facilitated by Agricultural Innovation and Research Eyre Peninsula (AIREP), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

“The Eyre Peninsula has large areas of agricultural land that is subject to acidification; as well as having a significant proportion of soils at moderate to severe risk of wind erosion and soils with low organic carbon - our Regenerative Agriculture Program grants focus on giving farmers an opportunity to trial methods that can help address these issues,” says AIREP Executive Officer, Naomi Scholz.

“We look forward to supporting local farmers with these five new grants and seeing the results that they achieve.”

The five new grants will see demonstrations set up on five farms with support from Tumby Bay based agronomist with Nutrien Ag Solutions, Richard Norris. The demonstrations will be based at properties near Louth Bay, Port Neill, Miltalie and Koppio.

Farmers take up soil carbon improvements
Brett Masters from PIRSA, Richard Norris from Nutrien Ag Solutions and Eyre Peninsula farmer Alex Piip at Alex’s farm where one of the grant demonstrations will take place at Butler, near Port Neill.

“These grants are a great initiative to start doing some work to address soil issues in these areas,” says Richard Norris.

“Land is becoming hard to come by and expensive, so it is important to improve what we do have.

“There has been a focus on trying to improve the bridge between low and high yield to increase averages. This is where we need to identify what constraints we’re dealing with.

“It can be difficult to diagnose the best solution to the problem but the solution needs to be profitable and have a positive impact on soil health.

“These grants will give us local examples of soil carbon improvement opportunities, and narrow down the best treatments for specific issues that we’re facing in this region, while easing the expenses associated with these amelioration treatments.”

One farm has identified sub-surface acidity as an issue with treatments to include deep ripping with lime compared to lime with no ripping and also straight deep ripping; while another will trial ripping with and without inclusion plates plus Gypsum to remediate some slaking at depth. The ripping will also increase drainage for some waterlogging areas.

Another farm has a compacted clay layer with suspected subsoil sodicity; treatments will consist of applied gypsum and deep ripping.

The Miltalie and Koppio farms will see multi species pastures planted to improve soil health and grazing opportunities.

“We will basically be trying to maximise sheep production and increase soil health and carbon fixation in the ground, while at the same time, trying to find a suitable and profitable fit for sowing multi species annual pastures,“ says Mr Norris.

“Seed is a major expense when trying to identify the best annual multi species pasture mix, so being able to alleviate that cost through these grants certainly helped to make the decision about trying out these different regenerative agriculture options.”

The five grants are worth up to $40,000 combined.

All grant opportunities for soil carbon are now filled within the Landscape Board’s Regenerative Agriculture Program, however there is still funding available for ‘soil cover’ demonstrations which can help to reduce soil erosion, improve soil cover, and increase soil biodiversity and health through planting. See the Board’s grants web page for more information contact AIREP’s Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer, Josh Telfer at 0460 000 290.

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