Soil, Nutrition and Compost

Resources

Managing cover crop residues in vegetable production

Managing cover crop residues in vegetable production
15 May 2017

This factsheet outlines key factors and the management options for the successful transition from cover crop to cash crop in vegetable production systems.

Soil Testing and Interpretation for Vegetable Crops: A guide

Soil Testing and Interpretation for Vegetable Crops: A guide
8 May 2017

The purpose of this guide is to help growers and agronomists interpret conventional ‘chemical’ soil tests and identify soil chemical constraints for commercial vegetable production in Australia.

This resource can be used to guide site specific decisions on nutrition management. It does NOT provide prescriptive information on how much of a certain nutrient or fertiliser to apply to various vegetable crops. A recipe approach is not recommended because results in crop performance would be unreliable.

A soil test, combined with a visual soil assessment, and knowledge about paddock history and production plans, provides a sound basis for a nutrition program. A conventional soil test can provide some information about biological and physical soil properties. While a complete soil condition assessment covers physical, biological and chemical soil properties of the topsoil and subsoil.

Calcium Cyanamide use in vegetables

Calcium Cyanamide use in vegetables
8 May 2017

Calcium cyanamide, also known as nitrolime, has been used as slow release nitrogen / calcium fertiliser with liming effect for over 100 years. Because of its negative effect on many soil borne diseases it is now often applied to prevent yield and quality losses during increasingly tight crop rotations.

Calcium cyanamide can be used:
• As a non acidifying, slow release nitrogen fertiliser
• To reduce soil borne disease pressure
• To suppress weed germination
• As an additive to compost.

This fact sheet explains how the product works, how to use it in vegetables and how to handle and store it safely. Ask your agronomist about sourcing calcium cyanamide products.

Anhydrous ammonia for vegetable crops: Could it be a viable proposition?

Anhydrous ammonia for vegetable crops: Could it be a viable proposition?
12 Jan 2017

Anhydrous ammonia has long been used as a preplant and side dressing fertiliser in the cotton and grain industries. It results in a high retention of nitrogen in the soil, reduced leaching of nitrates through the soil and yield increases in various crops. However, it needs to be treated with care as it can cause injury to farm workers.

Anhydrous ammonia has beneficial effects on soil microbes, nitrifying bacteria and worms. It is more suited to row crops rather than babyleaf crops, where even distribution nitrogen in the soil is required.

Forthside Demonstration Site: Soil amendments on vegetable crops 

Forthside Demonstration Site: Soil amendments on vegetable crops 
5 Dec 2016

Over the past four years, the effect of pyrethrum marc on vegetable crops has been compared with biochar, oaten chaff and conventional fertilisers at a trial site in Tasmania.

Pyrethrum marc can offer benefits as a soil conditioner and also as a source of nutrients for crops. Amendments can provide benefits for one or more years after application. Therefore, soil testing and monitoring combined with a fertiliser program is important for making the most of the economic benefits. Based on the crops grown and yields achieved in this trial, if pyrethrum marc was $60-65/t delivered, it would provide at least similar returns to conventional fertiliser.

Read this fact sheet to learn more about the trial, crops grown, treatments, and results.

From Health to Wealth: Looking after soils for vegetable production 

From Health to Wealth: Looking after soils for vegetable production 
11 Nov 2016

Soil health refers to the fitness of the soil to achieve its potential, within natural or managed limitations, and be productive under
the intended land use. Healthy soils have physical, chemical and biological properties that sustain biological functioning, maintain environmental quality and promote plant, animal and human health.

This practical fact sheet outlines the importance of healthy soil, its characteristics and how to get there, as well as the main soil health issues and potential solutions.

Nitrous oxide emissions from vegetable soils: What's all the fuss about?

Nitrous oxide emissions from vegetable soils: What's all the fuss about?
7 Nov 2016

Nitrogen is a key input into vegetable production. Applying high levels of nitrogen, either as fertiliser, compost or amendments is necessary to achieve high yields, but it can also result in nitrous oxide gas being released into the atmosphere.

This fact sheet provides useful information on the loss of plant available nitrogen, reducing nitrous oxide emissions, nitrogen management (the 4 R's) and keeping informed through soil testing.

Using compost safely: A guide for the use of recycled organics in horticulture

Using compost safely: A guide for the use of recycled organics in horticulture
27 Oct 2016

Compost is a mixture of recycled organic materials that have been processed by natural organisms, breaking down the original materials into a usable form. Compost has many benefits for soil. It can feed plants, stimulate beneficial microbes, improve soil structure and help the soil retain nutrients, water and warmth.

This guide describes how fresh produce growers can use compost without affecting their food safety assurance program.

Safe compost for fruit and vegetables: A guide for the supply of recycled organics to fresh produce growers

Safe compost for fruit and vegetables: A guide for the supply of recycled organics to fresh produce growers
26 Oct 2016

Compost is a mixture of recycled organic materials that have been processed by natural organisms, breaking down the original materials into a usable form. Compost has many benefits for soil. It can feed plants, stimulate beneficial microbes, improve soil structure and help the soil retain nutrients, water and warmth.

This guide describes how producers of recycled organic products can ensure that the composts they supply meet the requirements of food safety programs such as Freshcare.

Summer cover crops

Summer cover crops
1 Sep 2016

Match your main soil management aim to the southern Australian summer cover crops.

Nutrient element functions in vegetable crops 

Nutrient element functions in vegetable crops 
7 Jul 2016

Plant nutrients are commonly split into two categories:

• Major elements (macronutrients) that are required in relatively large quantities by plants, and
• Trace elements (micronutrients) that are essential for plant growth, but are only required in small amounts.

All elements must be available in a form that is useable by the plant, and in balanced concentrations that allow optimum plant growth.

Download this great summary of what the plant nutrients do, and how they need to be applied for the plant to make best use of your investment in fertilisers.

Taking soil samples

Taking soil samples
6 Jul 2016

Soil sampling and testing is usually done prior to planting a crop; specific in-crop testing can be useful e.g. testing for available nitrate and ammonium.

A soil test report is only as good as the care taken in sampling. Tools and equipment should be cleaned prior to collecting each sample. Completing labels and writing on bags or containers before going out to the field can save some time and confusion.

Read this fact sheet for guidance on how to take soil samples correctly and obtain reliable information on the nutrient status of your soil.

Winter cover crops

Winter cover crops
1 Jul 2016

Match your main soil management aim to the southern Australian winter cover crops.

Silicon for crop health

Silicon for crop health
28 Jun 2016

Silicon is an available nutrient for all plants grown in soil, with its content in plant tissue ranging from 0.1%-10%. Although it is not currently classified as an essential nutrient for plant growth, recent research suggests that silicon may have a significant role to play in plant health.

Read this fact sheet to learn more about the benefits of silicon on crop health and subsequent production, including improved nutrient availability, plant resistance to pest and disease pressure, and improved resilience to environmental stress. Guidance on how to choose a silicon product is also provided.

Carbon storage in vegetable soils

Carbon storage in vegetable soils
2 May 2016

Maintaining or increasing soil carbon makes good sense – for the environment and for soil productivity. While climate scientists talk about soil carbon, you will know it better as soil organic matter. And the productivity benefits of soil organic matter are legendary:

• Providing a slow release supply of nutrients
• Improving cation exchange capacity and nutrient- holding ability
• Buffering against soil acidity
• Improving soil structure and aggregate stability
• Improving soil water holding capacity
• Reducing erosion risk.

This fact sheet summaries the opportunities and management options for mitigating or sequestering soil carbon in vegetable soils.

Erosion: how to protect your soil

Erosion: how to protect your soil
4 Apr 2016

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.

Compost for Vegetable Growers: What is Compost?

Compost for Vegetable Growers: What is Compost?
29 Sep 2015

This is the first fact sheet in a series for vegetable growers. These sheets provide information about composting, compost products and how to best use them to suit your needs.

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Why Use Compost?

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Why Use Compost?
29 Sep 2015

This is the second fact sheet in a series for vegetable growers. These sheets provide information about composting, compost products and how to best use them to suit your needs.

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Getting Started

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Getting Started
29 Sep 2015

This is the third fact sheet in a series for vegetable growers. These sheets provide information about composting, compost products and how to best use them to suit your needs.

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Choosing a Supplier

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Choosing a Supplier
29 Sep 2015

This is the fourth fact sheet in a series for vegetable growers. These sheets provide information about composting, compost products and how to best use them to suit your needs.

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Using Compost

Compost for Vegetable Growers: Using Compost
29 Sep 2015

This is the fifth fact sheet in a series for vegetable growers. These sheets provide information about composting, compost products and how to best use them to suit your needs.

How to compost on farm

How to compost on farm
29 Sep 2015

This fact sheet developed by NSW Agriculture provides a good overview of composting, its benefits and how to create good compost.

Soil solution analysis

Soil solution analysis
28 Sep 2015

Soil salinity can cause salt burn, affect crop quality and reduce yield. Incorrect soil nitrate levels affect crop growth, quality and yield and excessive nitrogen applications are wasteful and can result in contamination of water tables and waterways. It is essential that soil salinity and nitrate levels be monitored throughout the crop cycle to ensure optimum crop growth.

Soil solution extraction and analysis can inexpensively monitor both salt and nitrate throughout the growing season to ensure optimum crop growth.

To find out more please refer to this fact sheet developed by Steven Falivene from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Biofumigation

Biofumigation
18 Aug 2015

Biofumigation is the use of specialised cover crops, which are grown, mulched and incorporated into the soil prior to cropping. High biomass, especially roots, can provide the traditional benefits of green manure crops, and if done right, naturally occurring compounds from the biofumigant plants can suppress soil-borne pests, diseases and weeds.

Reduced till in vegetable production

Reduced till in vegetable production
11 May 2015

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.

Quick guide to farm nitrogen

Quick guide to farm nitrogen
27 Apr 2015

This fact sheet covers the Sources of nitrogen on farm, Fertiliser use - what to do and what to avoid and a Quick guide to the main nitrogen sources in fertilisers.