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Demonstration sites set to offer new insights into summer feed options and soil health

News release
06 December 2021

An innovative new project will provide local farmers with an opportunity to learn more about summer fodder cropping techniques. Improving the longevity and survival rate of fodder crops over summer can reduce on-farm costs and loss of soil health.

A partnership between the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s sustainable agriculture team and the Fleurieu Farming Systems group has resulted in the development of five ‘Multi Species Summer Fodder Crop’ demonstration sites across the Fleurieu Peninsula. The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.

The demonstration sites will help the board, local farmers and agricultural groups better understand and improve best-practice in summer fodder cropping and how to extend the green-feed season. Results and lessons from the project will be used to improve public workshops and other board services concerning climate adaptation, soil health and regenerative agriculture.

Each five hectare site has been sown with a 12-species fodder crop mix. The mix was developed in consultation with S&W Seeds to incorporate a variety of functional plant types to increase the diversity of root types to feed soil biology and health.

HFLB’s John Butler, Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer, is confident the project will help farmers establish the most beneficial preparation and sowing technique for their summer crops.

“By using five different sites across the peninsula, each with different paddock preparation and sowing methods, we will be able to make comparisons and measure the effectiveness of various cropping techniques and their impacts on soil health and green-feed carrying capacity.”

“We hope to learn more about extending the season with green-feed into summer, effectively reducing the need to buy-in feed, increasing summer carrying capacity and making better use of summer rains,” he said.

The demonstration sites will provide an insight into which techniques best benefit soil health and biology. This will be measured by using deep moisture and temperature probes and monitoring rainfall across the sites to establish how much water is used by the summer crops and from how deep the crops draw water.

“We will learn more about the effects of an extended season on soil health, and expect positive results. The longer the crop is in the ground, there is greater photosynthesis, which increases organic sugars and soil biology, and this in turn results in an increase in water holding capacity and drought resilience.”

The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board held field days across the five sites earlier this month, which received a lot of interest and positive feedback. More are planned for February 2022. Keep an eye out for more details.

FDF soil testing
Above: The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board is working with Fleurieu Farming Systems and S&W Seeds at demonstration sites across the Fleurieu Peninsula - in Waitpinga, Inman Valley, Willow Creek and Myponga