Easier access to latest soils advice
A new network of soils extension officers across the state is set to give land managers better access to the latest technical information and advice to optimise soil health.
Based in regional landscape boards across South Australia, the soils officers will boost the capacity of the boards to offer practical on-ground help for land managers by helping them to better understand their soils and translate soil test results into on-farm actions to improve soil health.
Limestone Coast Landscape Board General Manager Steve Bourne said that while each of the state’s nine landscape boards has a core focus on their local region, this project is a great example of the ability of the boards to harness their collective power for the benefit of the whole state.
“This project shows how landscape boards work together and with others to get things done,” said Steve.
“By developing the project as a collective we were able to build a strong case to secure $2 million of funding through the Smart Farms Small Grant program, part of the National Landcare Program.
“Being able to provide this service, pretty much across the state, is a great result and we want to see as many land managers as possible take advantage.
“Healthy soil means improved productivity and environmental outcomes, which is what landscape boards are all about.
“A bonus is that the soils officers will be part of a statewide and national community of practice with direct links to the National Soil Monitoring and Incentives Program, part of the National Soil Strategy.
“There will also be a strong connection with the newly established SA Drought Hub, one of eight across the nation funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.
“A soils coordinator role based in the hub will be a conduit between the latest science and the on-ground soils officers who are working directly with land managers.’
Joining three landscape boards, including Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands and Alinytjara Wiluṟara is experienced soils practitioner Geoff Kew.
Geoff has dedicated his career to understanding soil and how soil health impacts the environment and the agricultural industry, working in the United Kingdom, the Middle East and across most of Australia. “The only place in Australia I haven’t dug holes is Tasmania,” said Geoff.
Starting in the position this week, he is ready to take a hands-on approach to help land managers understand the deeper soil profile. “I’m looking forward to investigating the subsoil constraints; what’s limiting root growth and the water holding capacity of the soils in these regions. It’s also important to know the origins of the material beneath the surface, how it was formed and how that could be impacting crops.”
Land managers interested in improving their soil health should contact their local landscape board. Contact details for each of the boards are available at www.landscape.sa.gov.au.