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Managing, soil, pasture and livestock

The effective management of soils and pastures is fundamental to the productivity of the agricultural industry and the health of the environment. Soil health supports grazing and crop production, supporting vegetative cover that reduces erosion and improves the quality of water run-off into watercourses. Soil and pastures is best managed in a sustainable way that reflects the carrying capacity of the soil, land class, water resources and maintenance of ground cover.

Healthy soils

Soil is the most valuable natural asset on any property. Without a well-functioning soil, landscape health will be poor. Soils have three key aspects to their condition: physical, chemical and biological. All are important and each influences the other. Healthy soil which is in good condition across all three areas, results in well-performing soil ecosystem processes which drive the productivity and sustainability of agricultural soils.

Healthy management of soil includes:

  • managing the risk of wind and water erosion through sustainable management practices, particularly the occurrence, intensity and timing of tilling and the quantity and nature of surface cover
  • managing the impact of water erosion through contour banking and flood control dams
  • managing soil acidification through the application of lime
  • modern agricultural weed management practices that are selective and integrated.

Building resilient agricultural systems on Kangaroo Island project

This four year project (2019–23) is using a holistic, systems approach to improving soil health as the basis for building resilient grazing and cropping systems on the Island. Four farmers are trialling regenerative agricultural techniques on their properties with technical support from Dick Richardson, from Grazing Naturally. These techniques will hopefully increase ground cover and improve soil carbon and organic matter, which will in turn improve water infiltration and plant nutrient availability.

This work also explores and promotes new tools and technologies to improve on-farm decision making and practices, building resilience for a changing climate and helping farming systems to adapt to changing market demands.

Kangaroo Island Soil acidity status report 2019

Kangaroo Island Land Capability Analysis (report)

Kangaroo Island soil acidity case study (factsheet)

Wind-proof your farm: Increasing farm productivity with shelterbelts (factsheet)

Creating a creek crossing (factsheet)

Managing soils for sustainable production (factsheet)

South Australian No-Till Farmers Association (website)

Integrity Soils (website)

Biochar knowledge and opportunities (presentation)

The business case for soil (journal article)

Pastures:

Pastures on small properties (factsheet)

Livestock:

Grazing Naturally (website)

Livestock management guidelines (factsheet)

Fodder management guidelines (factsheet)

General:

Ten ways to improve natural assets on a farm (booklet via website)

More information

Manager Sustainable Landscapes

35 Dauncey Street, Kingscote SA

08 8553 2476

ki.landscapeboard@sa.gov.au