West Midlands Group Receives Funding to Address Soil Fertility and Acidic Soils

The West Midland Group (WMG) has successfully sourced funding from the Australian Government, administered by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC), to complete two new projects.

One of these projects will focus on soil fertility over the long term using modern sensing and analytical techniques. This information will be interpreted and used to answer some of the questions surrounding the long term consequences of some of their shorter term farming system management choices.

Dr Bill Bowden, WMG Cropping R&D Ambassador said “this funding is allowing us to take advantage of a unique opportunity to revisit an existing trial that was established in the 1980’s near Badgingarra to assess fertility changes. It will also give insights into the long term effects of using alternative, slow release (“ecological”) phosphorus sources compared with the water soluble fertilisers, which are currently in use, but leachable on these sandy soils. In addition, we will also be able to develop new approaches for incorporating lime into acidic soils and to compare these new methods with existing approaches already being assessed. The objective is to give growers a robust, reliable and cost effective system of achieving lime incorporation in a broad acre context and one that is flexible enough that it can be modified for different soil types across the State”.

The WMG will work with their Cropping R&D Ambassador, Bill Bowden and researchers, Chris Gazy, Craig Scanlan and Steve Davies, DAFWA to complete the projects. The results of which will be presented at the upcoming WMG regional Crop Updates, being held in March next  year.

The aim of the second project is to develop and test new approaches for incorporating lime into acidic subsoils for both non-wetting sandplain and gravelly soils. This will involve modifying one-way discs on a Chamberlain plough in order to increase the inversion of the soil to a depth of at least 30cm (12 inches) for sandy soils and 25cm (10 inches) for gravel soils, effectively incorporating surface applied lime into the subsoil. Every year farmers apply multiple tonnes of lime to address these issues to increase agricultural production. However getting the lime to depth is becoming a major issue.

Media contact: Jennifer Bairstow, phone 9651 4008, email jennifer@wmgroup.org.au

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