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.