Soil health explained

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Soil health explained

THE Southern Gippsland Agricultural Climate Resilience Project held a healthy soil field day on Jenny and Graeme Cope’s dairy farm at Fish Creek last Wednesday.
Some 20 people were keen to find out how the soil health of this highly productive farm was developed and maintained.
Project officer Jill Vella said, “The impetus to hold this day came out of our summer series of horticultural workshops. “Participants at those days wanted to explore the topic of soil health in greater depth, especially with regard to assessing soil condition.
“Food producers know they need deep, humus rich soil to give better resilience to the effects of climate change which include hotter drier summers, a later autumn break and more severe rain events, and this field day gave them some ideas about how to assess and improve their soil.”
The Copes’ 840 acre property milks 700 cows.
To operate at this level Graeme and his agronomist Kevin Hughes from Soilwise Farm Services have used applications of soil microbe cultures and manures, as well as lime and chemical fertilisers.
Kevin and Graeme described how soil microbes develop a soil that has deeper rooting grasses and make the nutrients from the fertilisers more readily available to the plants.
“Before we used the microbes we grew what I considered a lot of grass, but the cows weren’t happy to consume it,” Mr Cope said.
“After the microbes and manure were applied, the palatability of the feed increased and we doubled our milk production off the same area.”
Also speaking at the field day was Lindsay Hyde from the Department of Economic Development.
Lindsay gave an overview of the New Zealand developed Shepherd method of visual soil assessment.
The group was able to see the root development of the pasture grasses, and the colour and depth of the topsoil in the soil profile.
By using touch, smell and other criteria, they made an assessment of the condition of the soil.
The climate change resilience project will be holding a series of dinners in the next few months across the shires of South Gippsland and Bass Coast.
Guests at the Climate Change Café will include experts on farmer health, financial and risk management, herd sire selection and a number of other agricultural advisors who will chat over dinner.
By combining a meal with good conversation, attendees will get valuable pointers to develop resilience to whatever climate variation might bring.
The first dinner will be held at the Foster Golf Club on Tuesday, June 23. It will be $20 for a three course meal and interesting advice.
Call Jill on 0408 208 350 or go to the Sustainability Gippsland website: www.sustainabilitygippsland.com.
There will also be events around the Loch district on August 26 and the Wonthaggi/Dalyston area on September 14.

Dirt talk: Kevin Hughes from Soilwise Farm Services (centre) spoke to the group attending a soil health workshop on Jenny and Graeme Cope’s dairy farm at Fish Creek last Wednesday as part of the South Gippsland Climate Resilience Project.

Dirt talk: Kevin Hughes from Soilwise Farm Services (centre) spoke to the group attending a soil health workshop on Jenny and Graeme Cope’s dairy farm at Fish Creek last Wednesday as part of the South Gippsland Climate Resilience Project.

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Posted by on Jun 2 2015. Filed under Community, Rural News. 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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