The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects provide R&D extension services, products and communication on improved soil management and plant health to the Australian vegetable industry.
Over the past 3-years, RMCG and AHR have delivered the projects for Horticulture Innovation Australia. Phase 1 of the projects have now been completed. So, what’s been achieved?
Six years ago, Rob Hinrichsen and the team at Kalfresh decided to focus on four key practices – controlled traffic, cover crops, soil biology and compost – to improve the soil health across his farms.
Rob’s emphasis on softer tillage, boosting organic matter with compost and cover crops has helped the soil recover and support a healthy population of beneficial soil organisms. Rob supplements the naturally occurring biology by using specific beneficial organisms to improve the robustness of his farming system.
This case study provides insights into some of the main changes involving controlled traffic, cover crops and compost at the Kalfresh demonstration site in Queensland.
Join the Cornell SFP as we team up with Michigan State University and the University of Maine to offer three webinars and share the latest research on reduced tillage for organic vegetable production. Learn about practices that fit your operation, from permanent beds, tarps, and mulches, to cover cropping, strip tillage, and cultivation tools.
Reduced tillage can produce similar or better yields than more aggressive conventional tillage. It opens the door to improving soil health.
This case study outlines the pros and cons of reducing the intensity of cultivation in vegetable production systems. It is based on lessons learnt from three demonstration sites conducted as part of the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) projects (2014 – 2016).
Nematodes in vegetable soils - managing the bad and good ones with Dr Sarah Collins (webinar recording)
This webinar with Nematode specialist Dr Sarah Collins from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA focused on the pest nematode, outlining the life cycles of the root-knot and root-lesion nematodes and how this can be used to target control measures.
The webinar also covered beneficial free living nematodes and how these can be managed and used as soil health indicators.
Members of the Soil Wealth and ICP team were recently interviewed for the Potatoes Australia magazine. The key message? Many of the soil health and plant protection practices relevant to vegetables, also apply to potatoes.
Click through to read the article.
The Vegetable SOILpak manual was developed by NSW Department of Primary Industries to provide soil information relevant to irrigated vegetable production in New South Wales. The manual aims to provide decision support for landholders and advisers, helping to maintain or improve productivity over both the short and long term.
This fact sheet outlines key factors and the management options for the successful transition from cover crop to cash crop in vegetable production systems.
The Werribee demonstration site held its first farm walk on 2 September 2016, hosted by Andrew Fragapane. After three lettuce crops over 10 months it was time to have a look at how the crops and soils were measuring up under the conventional-, reduced- and minimum-tillage practices. With the number of cultivations at 23, 6 and 2, respectively, some big difference could be expected.
Despite the hard setting soils the reduced-till practice was coming out as a clear winner, maintaining yields and reducing tractor, fuel and labour costs, and allowing the soil biology to do some of the heavy lifting in building a more stable soil structure which the crop roots seems to be enjoying.
The Soil Wealth and ICP projects have managed a demonstration site at Kalfresh since early 2015.
The results from the demonstration site confirm that by following four principles in managing vegetable cropping soils, both soil condition and financial returns can be maximised. It’s a true win:win situation.
A healthy topsoil is a great asset to have, as this layer of soil contains the highest concentration of organic matter, micro-organisms, nutrients and biological activity. Lost topsoil can’t be replaced in a human’s lifespan. Therefore erosion, probably the biggest culprit in the loss of topsoil, should be effectively managed.
This fact sheet provides essential information on managing soil erosion, including reducing the impact of wind and water. The easy to read publication also guides decision-making on managing your irrigation system, controlling run-off water, covering exposed soil areas, improving soil structure and increasing cohesion between soil particles.
Applied Horticultural Research team set up a “cover crop” trial there as a real farm demonstration to help growers adopt sustainable practices, and, importantly, improve their bottom line. The trial, near Cowra, in the Central West region of NSW.
All the cover crops resulted in higher yields than the fallow control. The highest yields in this trial were obtained with clover (+48%) and field peas (+36%), but ryegrass alone and compost were also effective in increasing yields compared to bare fallow.
Vegetable growers and advisors discuss how attending a master class has changed the way they manage soilborne diseases and influenced their business.
A summary of the importance of soil, soil science and good soil management from a Victorian perspective.
Missed the Bulmer Farm Walk on 21 May 2015? Catch up on reduced tillage options in vegetables in this video from Jeanette Servers of Good Fruit & Vegetable.
This video documentary showcases grower practices used to better manage sweetpotato pests in their Australian sweetpotato production systems. It was produced as a result of project VG09052 'Integration of crop and soil insect management in sweetpotato', which was undertaken by the Australian Sweetpotato Growers Association (ASPG inc).
This book is a practical guide to ecological soil management that provides background information as well as details of soil-improving practices. It is meant to give the reader an appreciation of the importance of soil health and to suggest ecologically sound practices that help to develop and maintain healthy soils.
This article from the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation discusses the outcomes of a long-term experiment comparing selected no-tillage grain cropping systems and a reduced-tillage organic system.
ONCE a thorn in the side of vegetable growers, insects and bugs are now being welcomed back into commercial crops.
A reduced till system on this Cowra vegetable farm delivered soil, cost and crop benefits.
NSW farmers, Ed and James Fagan explain how they developed a reduced tillage vegetable farming operation in Cowra, NSW.
Reduced till is a system change that relies on keeping the soil in a healthy condition through the use of permanent beds, controlled traffic, cover cropping and crop rotations rather than frequent cultivation.
Want to get an good overview of soil biology, then this video is a good place to start.