Can productive farmers ignore the acid soil test?

Jason Condon and Helen Burns will be on hand to answer farmers questions on soil acidity and recent regional lime trials.
Jason Condon and Helen Burns will be on hand to answer farmers questions on soil acidity and recent regional lime trials.

Phil Cranney, Senior Land Services Officer Pastures at Central Tablelands Local Land Services, believes that the acid soil problem in the Cowra and central slopes region is no longer the imaginary sleepy monster merely threatening farmer's productivity.

The acid soil monster is real, with acid soils are causing massive losses in productivity in both pastures and crops, that ultimately hurt the farmer's bottom line and the environment.

Mr Cranney said that some farmers and most agronomists are increasingly diagnosing pH stratification issues in their paddocks that have had 10-20 years of zero/minimum till practice.

"Local agronomists have been quick to change their soil testing methods to more accurately diagnose aluminium toxicity issues within the top 30cm of soil," he said.

"This is the real issue for acid soils that have had lime applied to the surface without incorporation.

"Many farmers think that the lime is applied, problem solved, but this is generally not the case."

Mitch Dwyer, local agronomist for Elders Cowra has done over 350 soil tests this year to date, with plenty more to do.

Mr Dwyer said soil sampling has been one of the biggest changes since coming to Cowra four years ago.

"All our samples are now split up in the 0-20cm topsoil layer to ensure we pick up any pH stratification that may be limiting production," he said.

"Our recommendations have also changed with regard to the opportunity to incorporate lime some years for a more long-term solution."

The top five issues for farmers to consider:

  • Most pulses and pasture legumes perform best at 5.5pH and above
  • Pulses provide an important break crop for diseases and herbicide resistance
  • Pastures and crops sensitive to aluminium toxicity will not reach their optimal productivity
  • Pastures and crops sensitive to aluminium toxicity will have smaller root systems and therefore less water and nutrient use efficient
  • Movement of surface applied lime down the soil profile is very slow, options to incorporate lime should be considered

Central Tablelands Local Land Services, in partnership with NSW DPI and the Grasslands Society of NSW, is providing an opportunity for farmers to re-visit acid soil management at a workshop being held on Friday 19th March at the Cowra NSW DPI Pridham Centre.

Jason Condon and Helen Burns from NSW DPI in Wagga Wagga, will provide an update on the establishment of two large-scale local lime trials and discuss practical management options for diverse farming systems and variable soils of the region, based on local data.

Topics will include:

  • Are current liming practices addressing acid soil issues and increasing productivity?
  • Updating strategies to improve the effectiveness of acid soil management programs
  • How can soil inputs be better managed to maximise return on investment and long-term productivity?

The Cowra workshop starts at 9:30am and ends at 11am. The session will be interactive with plenty of time for questions.

Online booking is essential and can be done by visiting www.trybooking.com/BNTVQ

This story Can productive farmers ignore the acid soil test? first appeared on Canowindra News.