Biology, bugs and a big day out

There is something about the soil that has everyone talking.

And it was this growing interest in soil health and biology that brought the recent Biology, Bugs and a Big Day Out event to the Northern Agricultural Region.

The event brought many farmers together to engage in workshops and field walks to better understand the biological make-up of our soils and the role it plays in agriculture.

Key points included a discussion about the need to get lime deeper into the soil rather than just sitting on the topsoil, to make any real benefit.

Participants of Carnamah LCDC and Yarra Yarra CMG at Carnamah Landcare office
Participants of Carnamah LCDC and Yarra Yarra CMG at Carnamah Landcare office

Featured on the day was an excellent presentation by Professor Lyn Abbott of UWA who shared about various types of soil organisms and explained a number of vital processes they perform in the soil.

According to Professor Abbott, “soil organisms are affected by disturbances to their environment. This simple observation could be the basis for an alternative approach to decision-making in land use. Practices that encourage the activities of beneficial soil organisms are easily identified, for example stubble retention.”

“The organisms in your soils contribute to important processes that underpin both productivity and sustainability. I encourage you to get to know them,” said Professor Abbott

Stuart McAlpine, a farmer from Buntine also shared his local experience on importance of soil biology in farming and use of soil bio-stimulants to improve soil fertility, crop vigour, yields, quality and tolerance to abiotic stresses.

“What I now know is that biology is a major ingredient of a farming system and unless it’s in the mix, everything falls over. The simple formula I keep before me is that increasing soil biology equals increasing plant availability of beneficial soil nutrients and compounds improvement in soil health,” Mr McAlpine said.

Dr Svetlana Micic of DAFWA presented about integrated pest management (IPM). “IPM integrates pest biology, environmental information and other relevant technologies to reduce pest damage, while minimising health and environmental risks.”

Dr Micic said, DAFWA has released MyPest Guide app which is now available for landholders and community to download at DAFWA’s website There is also a weekly newsletter – Pestfax (at DAFWA’s website) that provides information on risk alerts, advice on pests and diseases threatening crops and pasture throughout the grain belt on Western Australia.

NACC congratulates the Carnamah Land Conservation District Committee and Yarra Yarra Catchment Management Group om association with the University of Western Australia, Department of Agriculture and Food and local farmer Stuart McAlpine for the success of their very well organised event.


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