Project Delivery: Warren Catchments Council
Contact: Danielle Short (SWCC-Narrogin). Ph 9881 0202. Email: Danielle.email@example.com
Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture
Start Date: June 2014 End Date: Dec 2017
Site ID: SF18
Size Are Ha: TBA
This project seeks to demystify Biological Farming and provide:
- training in the use of farmer tools to self-assess soil physical and biological properties based on NSW Northern Rivers Soil Health Card and complemented by local resources (delivered by recently retired Northern Rivers TAFE lecturer)
- training in collection of soil samples (including sampling for sub-soil acidification), one-on-one interpretation of results and means of achieving mineral and nutrient balance (essential for biological activity that will then transform naturally occurring minerals to plant available forms); preparing soil and plant nutrition plan (various agronomic experts)
- opportunities for a minimum of 5 farmers to implement at least one biological farming strategic focus (a combination of factors is essential in each approach) eg green manuring, applying compost, organic slow release minerals, aeration, species diversity, different calcium sources…
- a forum for the exchange of information and experiences and supplementary information from experts (capacity and confidence building)
This project is primarily a demonstration and extension exercise rather than a research trial. Hence five landholders will be selected (by a suitably qualified panel and authorised by SWCC) to represent different soil types, rainfall zones and production purposes adopting a soil condition improvement strategy that reflects a wide variety of practices. Eg compost, microbial inputs, planned grazing, mineral balancing, diverse perennial species, cover cropping, fixed bed horticulture. Hence the trial sites and the activity being tested at each site and the scientific methodology will be agreed upon after the initial extension event.
Collection of comparative data will be kept as a minimum due to the demonstrative nature of the project. The confirmed monitoring includes:
- Farmers will keep logbooks recording seasonally appropriate data specific to their trial design – agreed compulsory assessments supplemented by farmers’ private extension testing eg tissue testing.
- Standardized benchmark physical, chemical and biological assessments will be conducted on all trial sites and repeated in May 2017.
- At the commencement of the trial and in May 2017 chemical (macro and micro nutrient levels – base saturation and ratios, pH, EC, toxicities); physical (OM, CEC, bulk density, texture, compaction, infiltration) and biological (food web and earthworm count) will take place
- Informal assessments using the Soil Health Card, will record erosion (water), soil structure, root volume, microbiological activity (calico test) and earthworm counts
- Site-specific assessments (depending on outcome sought from sustainable agriculture practice trialed eg FOO, elevated Brix scores, farm-made compost/compost teas, ground cover, water infiltration rate).
- Regular photo, gps and visual monitoring will take place to show any variations and changes on the trial sites.
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