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Farming in a changing environment

News release
31 March 2022

In a world of environmental change and uncertainty, we are seeing an increasing focus on the importance of soil.

But how resilient is soil? What makes it resilient and what is being adopted in response to the changing environment?

To better understand these questions, a collaborative project is underway between Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board, Birchip Cropping Group, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Mallee Sustainable Farming looking at‘regenerative opportunities in the low rainfall zone’.

This project is supported by the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board, Birchip Cropping Group, Mallee Sustainable Farming and the CSIRO through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund and landscape levies.

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Eliza Rieger said starting with soil samples collected from 31 sites across South Australia and the Victorian Mallee, the project aims to understand the resilience of the current soil biological communities under a range of agricultural systems.

“By analysing our soil microbial communities and comparing between different systems across the low rainfall zone, we hope to gain a better understanding of how biology is influenced by farming practices and which farming systems can best respond to extended periods of dry, wetter springs or summers and late starts,“ Ms Rieger said.

“We know that it is the soil biology that accumulates and makes essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus available in the soil; it becomes increasingly important to understand how we can best manage this portion of the soil resource,” she said.

There are currently 125 individual samples being analysed from the 2021 growing season. Another 125 samples will be collected at the end of summer to add to this growing story.

“An independent literature review is being pieced together to provide a relevant resource about soil health knowledge in the low rainfall South Australia and Victorian Mallee.

“The review will document evidence, examples and suggestions for those aiming to adjust their system or trial new ideas against our current farming practices,” she said.

Farming in a changing environment
A collaborative project is underway in the Murraylands and Riverland region looking at the ‘regenerative opportunities in the low rainfall zone’. The image highlights the root-soil zone where plants form a symbiotic relationship with soil biological communities.