Open Farm Field Day – Converting acid root-mat into productive pasture

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Open Farm Field Day – Converting acid root-mat into productive pasture

‘Open Farm Field day- Converting acid root-mat into productive pasture’ Press release: Bass Coast Landcare Network on upcoming Field Day. Contact Moragh on 56782335 Farmers whose properties are affected by acid mat-root will find the next Bass Coast Landcare Network field day extremely worthwhile. The field day, which will be held on Saturday, 23 October at Wattlebank (near Wonthaggi) is looking at the cause and impacts of soil acidification and strategies for tackling acid mat. Field day hosts, Len and Anita Trease will be joined by respected consultant, John Gallienne. John devised the program that has helped Len and Anita lift soil pH levels and break up the acid-root mat that, just a few years ago, affected most of their 150 acre property. “The pH was down to 4.2 or 4.5, and the mat was an inch and a half in some places,” recalls Len. “The quality of the pasture kept declining. The only thing that was growing well was bent grass!” Coastal soils, which are naturally acidic anyway, are particularly prone to acid mat. “The microorganisms responsible for breaking down organic matter in the soil don’t like conditions that are too acidic,” explains John. “When pH falls below a certain level, biological activity slows right down. If you don’t do something to bring the pH back up, the organic matter continues to build up and soon forms a thick mat on the surface.” The impacts on production can be severe. “Although there are a lot of nutrients in the organic matter, they’re unavailable to the plants, so growth is poor and the root systems don’t develop properly,” says John. “Also, because water can’t penetrate through the mat, high moisture levels build up in the organic matter which encourages root diseases.” John says that a combination of liming (in conjunction with soil tests), rotational grazing and occasionally ripping can help break down acid mat. “Essentially, you have to physically break up the acid mat, through ripping and/or grazing, and reduce the acidity,” he says. “That helps the roots develop stronger root systems and increase biological activity so that you get better recycling of plant material and an overall improvement in soil health.” The field day will also discuss other strategies that the Treases – who are part of the Bass Coast Landcare Network’s Net Gain program – have implemented to bring about productivity and environmental gains on their property. These include installing ramps and fencing off dams to improve water quality, protecting remnant vegetation and an extensive direct seeding program that has boosted diversity on and around their property. The field day will be held from 10am to 3.00pm, at 810 Lynne’s Road, Wattlebank. A light lunch and refreshments will be served. Participants are encouraged to take advantage of a free return bus service to the field day that will leave Wonthaggi (outside the Shire Offices) at 9.30am, and will return by 3pm. If you are interested in attending, please contact Dave on 5671 2471 or at [email protected] or Moragh on 5678 2335 or at [email protected]

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=321

Posted by Moragh Mackay on Oct 8 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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