Project Delivery: West Arthur Trials Group
Contact: Danielle Short (SWCC- Narrogin). Ph 9881 0202. Email: Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture
Start Date: June 2014 End Date: Dec 2017
Site ID: SF7
Size Are Ha: 117
To demonstrate the benefits from an environmental and productivity perspective of the Centre for Co-operative Research (saltland) Enrich, Saltbush Clones & salt-tolerant legume (messina) programs in the West Arthur Region. We aim to achieve this demonstration by successfully planting and managing the sites according to the Enrich program guidelines but also to measure the productivity gains and document the practice change requirements for a livestock enterprise.
Located on a 117 hectare site, this project aims to compare soil health, groundcover (biomass) and productivity benefits between an existing saltbush/perennial grasses paddock with an unimproved annual pasture with the to-be-established fodder shrub/understory paddock to a renovated pre-existing saltbush/perennial grasses paddock .
Additionally, hydrology measures pre and post-trial should prove or disprove the theory that higher water use species (such as perennials & shrubs) should lower the water table, freshen up the surface (be recharged with fresh water) and hence increase annual pasture component with a corresponding increase in winter active annuals. This improvement may take a number of years to show (beyond the life of the project) but by installing piezometer’s an annual monitoring regime (host farmers & WATG) would be an effective method of showing turn-around.
Increasing the proportion of deep rooted perennials has been shown elsewhere to lower the water table and have a positive impact on livestock productivity measures. However, the link to soil biology improvements and ultimately soil health enhancements has not been determined. This project aims to measure each of these elements to show the total benefit of the planting to the overall health of the catchment without detriment to farm sustainability.
Monitoring will include:
- Comprehensive soil testing, measuring pH, nutrients & EC will be conducted in June 2014 and 2017.
- Three years of groundwater measurement data will be collected via installed piezometers to determine length of time to impact on groundwater under a perennial system compared to annual pastures.
- Measurements of EM38 & radiometric measurements, biomass imagery, Legume nodulation scoring in each site (roots of 10 randomly selected legumes), soil biology testing will allow comparison of perennial systems compared to annual pastures.
- Monthly visual, photo and gps monitoring will record changes in each site and compare a perennial system to annual pastures
Once grazing commences then regular measurements of FOO, pasture height and groundcover before and after grazing determine the requirements for supplementary feeding as needed to maintain ewe condition and to assess the impact of grazing on the site.
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