LMRIA Floodplain Field Soil Testing Workshop

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LMRIA Floodplain Field Soil Testing Workshop

Guest speakers Ed Scott and Emily Leyden from Soil Science South Australia recently delivered an informative session on optimising soil health in irrigation bays within the LMRIA system. They shed some light on the importance of thorough soil testing and proactive management strategies for sustainable pasture growth.

A key takeaway was the importance of going beyond the surface when conducting soil tests. While sampling to a depth of 10 cm is common practice, both Ed and Emily advocated for probing deeper into the soil profile. This deeper exploration is crucial as it can uncover hidden factors such as high pH or salinity, which may hinder plant growth or lead to issues with pasture establishment.

To equip farmers with practical tools, the speakers outlined simple tests that can be conducted on-site. These include pH testing using indicator liquid and powder, as well as soil texture analysis and dispersion tests. By identifying areas of both robust and poor growth, farmers can tailor their management strategies accordingly.

Central to the discussion was the importance of maintaining low or empty salt drains to facilitate salt flushing from the bays. Effective bay management, including factors such as irrigation duration, neighbouring crops, and environmental considerations, emerged as crucial for maximising productivity.

LMRIA Floodplain Field Soil Testing Workshop

Looking towards future challenges, Ed and Emily stressed the need for readiness for drought conditions or reduced Murray River flows, which can significantly impact bays and the surrounding ecosystem. Encouraging hands-on involvement, they urged farmers to regularly inspect soil conditions, re-emphasising the importance of clean and clear drainage systems.

This project is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the Smart Farms Small Grants program which is a component of the National Landcare Program.

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