The vegetable industry has a growing interest in soil health and beneficial soil microbes, including mycorrhizal fungi. While there is a need for practices that help to boost the beneficial fungi in Australian vegetable crops, getting the benefits under commercial field conditions is not easy.
This case study examines why and how vegetable growers can boost beneficial mycorrhizal fungi in their crops. It also shares the results from a trial which looked at the potential of cover crops, together with commercial mycorrhizal inoculants and reduced soil tillage, to increase the beneficial fungi in vegetable crops.
In this edition: a new weed management guide for wild radish in the vegetable industry, nominate a leader in plant health and soil management at the Hort Connections National Awards for Excellence, farm walks to go virtual in Victoria and resources on reduced tillage.
There are many factors that contribute to strong environmental stewardship in the vegetable industry, and improving soil management and plant health is an important component of business sustainability. But when it comes to finding evidence of the strengths and gaps of your growing operation, it can be difficult to know where to start.
This article from our Partnership Network member EnviroVeg explains how the program can help growers identify these opportunities and take action to ensure their vegetable growing business is environmentally responsible.
In this edition: The future of integrated weed management technologies, demonstration site news from NSW and Victoria, new resources on healthy soils, blackleg in potato and drone regulations podcast.
Being part of a grower group has many benefits. It helps to be on the forefront of new developments in vegetable production and talk to other growers to share successes, challenges and support each other with new ideas.
A group of young growers have joined the Warren Improvement Group in Western Australia to provide a fresh focus on improving vegetable production in the Manjimup region. This case study explains more.
In this edition: Good Soils Guide, seasonal outlook for February to April, demonstration site news from Manjimup, Western Australia and Werribee South, Victoria, and new resources on choosing cover crops, organic soil amendments and spray rig calibration.
There are various ways to reduce erosion, including reducing how much water runs off and the speed of that flow.
This fact sheet provides information on a trial conducted at Forthside Vegetable Research Station at Forth in north western Tasmania, which compared three treatments with a control (no treatment) to reduce the amount of water moving down a hillslope.
Vegetable growers in Australia can now access a comprehensive online resource to improve all aspects of soil health on-farm and increase the efficiency and profitability of their businesses.
The Good Soil Guide is a free online encyclopaedia specifically designed for growers and industry to use in the field. The resource was developed in the United Kingdom as a collaboration between Yorkshire Water, Yorkshire supply chain consultancy Future Food Solutions and soil scientist Neil Fuller.
Integrated weed management (Webinar 2 of 3): How cover cropping can improve its use for vegetable growers
Integrated Weed Management (IWM) is vital for getting on top of weed problems in vegetable production, or for keeping the farm relatively weed-free. This webinar will look at the capacity of both summer and winter cover crops to out-compete weeds during non-cash cropping periods, reduce the weed seedbank and improve soil health.
Integrated weed management (IWM) is vital for getting on top of weed problems in vegetable production. It involves combining all appropriate weed control options in a coordinated, supportive and flexible way. A key outcome of effective IWM in vegetable production is the reduction of the weed seed bank (the number of viable weed seeds present in the soil) to ensure that the weed burden is minimised.
Read how snow pea grower Kim Ngov found a solution for his weed management challenges using ryegrass as an inter-row cover crop.
In this edition: New guide to brassica biofumigant cover crops, seasonal outlook for vegetable growing areas, demonstration site findings from Manjimup, Western Australia and Koo Wee Rup, Victoria, and new resources including a poster on the ins and outs of variable rate application.
With assistance from the Soil Wealth project team, the Three Ryans, located at Manjimup, WA, decided to try the cover crop + strip till combo to see what benefits there are for their vegetable farm. So, an on-farm strip till demonstration plot was established in a broccoli crop. This has seen cost savings and soil benefits, compared to their conventionally grown broccoli crop.
This guide summarises and provides easy access to useful resources developed by the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection project from December 2017 to July 2020.
In this edition: Get effective R&D support in a remote setting, demonstration site news from Victoria and Bathurst, NSW, and new resources on managing salinity in potato and vegetable production.
Agronomists, Dr Pieter Van Nieuwenhuyse and Marc Hinderager, discuss the outcomes from a case study carried out on a pumpkin farm in Bathurst, NSW. You will hear how inter-row ground cover may assist you in suppressing weeds and a more integrated approach, using cover crops and strip-till, might help you reduce the use of herbicides. And not disturbing the soil, will result in better water infiltration rates and moisture retention.
Benefits of cover crops and strip-till for pumpkin production – interview with Michael Camenzuli from Bathurst (6 minutes)
Vegetable grower, Michael Camenzuli, managed to grow pumpkins without the use of plastics. Instead, he used a cover crop (rolled and strip-tilled) resulting in cleaner pumpkins at harvest.
Cover crops and strip tillage live webinar panel session with a focus on cover crops, strip-tillage and slug and snail management.
Combining cover crops with strip-till is proving a winner for vegetable soils and crops. In the Cowra Case Study Part I, we detailed cucumber crop benefits. In Part II we dig a bit deeper to look at the soil health benefits from cover crop + roller crimper + strip-till which underpinned the outstanding yield result.
IWM on a Bathurst pumpkin farm: Advantages & drawbacks of ground cover use, tillage and residual herbicides
Grey pumpkins (var. Sampson) were planted the week of 4 November 2019, following strip tillage of terminated ryecorn and conventional tillage (rotary hoe) of terminated oats and vetch cover crop areas respectively. Clomazone herbicide was applied post- sowing pre-emergent (PSPE) at a rate of 0.4 kg a.i./ha and incorporated immediately with 25 mm irrigation water. A small control area was left untreated (no herbicide), both for the strip tilled ryecorn and conventionally tilled oats and vetch cover crop areas. A month post-sowing, most of the conventionally tilled area was inter-row cultivated.
Read this case study to find out more about the trial design, results and key take homes.
Cover crops + roller crimper + strip-tillage have proven a winning combination for a partnership between
Mulyan Farms’ Ed Fagan and AHR’s Marc Hinderager from the Soil Wealth ICP project.
Lyndon Orpwood from Simplot Australia (Bathurst, NSW) explains how strip-tillage has improved moisture retention and field productivity. The benefits include stubble retention, greater efficiency and reduced diesel usage.
Ed Fagan (Cowra, NSW) explains how strip-tillage and cover cropping compliment each other for a successful cucumber crop.
Hear from industry experts on how strip-till will save you fuel and time, increase soil organic matter, reduce erosion and compaction, and how fertilisers can be banded at multiple depths.
Dr Kelvin Montagu demonstrates the erosion control benefits of strip-tillage in vegetable production.
Jeff McSpedden from Bathurst explains how strip tillage has improved the productivity of sweet corn on hist farm.
Strip-till is a system of cultivation that works strips of soil where the crop will be planted or sown and leaves most of the soil covered and undisturbed.
Watch this video to find out more about the benefits and challenges of using strip tillage in vegetable production systems, as well as testimonials from growers.
Looking to reduce establishment costs, improve your soil and save some time? Then have a look at strip-till in 2019.
Read this article to find out more about the benefits of stip-till, improvements to soil health, challenges, and what growers are saying after using stip-till.
Strip-till is a system of cultivation that works strips of soil where the crop will be planted or sown and leaves most of the soil covered and undisturbed.
Read this fact sheet to find out more about the benefits and challenges of strip-till, as well practical considerations out in the paddock.
This guide summarises useful information developed by the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Phase 1 projects from 2014-2017, and where to find it. These resources are relevant to all major vegetable growing regions in Australia. The resources developed includes fact sheets (51), case studies (12), videos and apps (36), e-newsletters (32 editions), as well as demonstration site information. The main topics covered by these resources include crop management, pest and disease management, and soil, nutrition and compost.
All the resources in this guide can be found on this project website.
Six years ago, Rob Hinrichsen and his team at Kalfresh decided to focus on four key practices – controlled traffic, cover crops, soil biology and compost – to improve the soil health across their farms. The main drivers were to improve crop yield and quality, as well as the sustainability of the business.
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 they 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).
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.
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.
From 2014 to 2017, 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?
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.
The Soil Wealth and ICP project 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.