What do you need to know about soil health?
To celebrate World Soil Day, a group of Kangaroo Island landholders attended the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s workshop ‘Where Food Begins’, on the mainland.
Soil is where our food begins. It is integral to our livelihoods, businesses and international food security. It is responsible for the food we eat, the paper we write on, the cotton in our socks and the wood in our houses. Soil health and vitality is directly correlated to our own. To celebrate World Soil Day, a group of Kangaroo Island landholders attended the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board’s workshop ‘Where Food Begins’, at Meadows on Sunday 4 December. Over 400 people visited the workshop to hear soil experts talk about the importance of soil and how to look after it by encouraging diversity and supporting microbial and fungal health.
Renowned molecular biologist Dr Uwe Stroeher spoke of his work with SA agribusiness Neutrog to brew biological fertilisers. These fertilisers use fungi rather than chemicals to support plant growth, resulting in nutrients moving through the soil 1000 times faster and improving plant water use.
Soil ecologist Professor Tim Cavagnaro from the University of Adelaide stressed the importance of increasing and preserving the productive capacity of soil by maintaining ground cover and promoting species diversity.
Dr Craig Liddicoat from Flinders University explained how his research is indicating that individuals who consume a wide variety of different fruit and vegetables, or are physically exposed to a range of environments, have increased levels of fitness, mental health benefits and a stronger immune response.
The Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans spoke practically about the importance of soil health and how he encourages soil diversity to sustain himself and his livelihood.
The presenters on the concluding panel maintained that there is ‘no one size fits all’ approach to improving soil health. However, testing for pH, maintaining ground cover and promoting microbial diversity over both space and time are fantastic places to start.
Attendees came away with practical advice on how they could improve their soil health at home and on their farms, including by composting, reducing or improving compacted soils and using microbes and worms.
The Kangaroo Island Landscape Board would love to help you find out more about your soil health and management options, how to test your soil, and how to participate in soil related projects or attend future events. Please contact:
Cassandra Douglas-Hill, Kangaroo Island Landscape Board Soil Extension Officer, phone 0402 107 167, email Cassandra.Douglas-Hill@sa.gov.au
Venetia Bolwell, Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator, phone 0437 172 877, email Venetia.Bolwell@sa.gov.au
Attendance at the workshop was supported by the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.
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