Soil amendments

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Summary of Resources and Communication: Handy hints and where to find useful information (Phase 1)

November 2017
Summary of Resources and Communication: Handy hints and where to find useful information (Phase 1)

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.

Soil Wealth and ICP Achievements Phase 1

May 2017
Soil Wealth and ICP Achievements Phase 1

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?

Compost Trial Virginia, SA

April 2019
Compost Trial Virginia, SA

Listen to this podcast by VegNET Industry Development Officer, Theresa Chapman.

Recycled Organics (Compost) in Vegetable Production

March 2019
Recycled Organics (Compost) in Vegetable Production

Recycled organics (compost) is a commercially viable source of composted organic matter that does not contain animal manures, and is now being used successfully on vegetable farms in NSW.

Rob Niccol from Australian Native Landscapes and Dr Kelvin Montagu from AHR discuss the value proposition of recycled organics and explain how the compost can be successfully integrated into vegetable farming in Australia.

This project is supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority as part of Waste Less, Recycle More, funded from the waste levy.

Organic soil amendments

September 2018
Organic soil amendments

Organic amendments are mostly applied pre-planting of cash or cover crops, and always contain carbon and all major nutrients (N, P, S and K).

Read this global scan and review, the first in a series, that covers what organic soil amendments are, why and how to use them, the effects on soils and crops, as well as other specific considerations. Further research, development and extension needs are also identified for future guidance.

The effect of custom made composts on the performance of a carrot crop and soil health

May 2018
The effect of custom made composts on the performance of a carrot crop and soil health

Demonstration site report prepared for VG15010 A Multi-faceted approach to soilborne disease management by Francis Tedesco, Center West Exports, Justin Wolfgang, C-Wise, Doris Blaesing, RMCG

A large-scale compost trial was conducted with Center West Export (CWE) and C-Wise in the Gingin area of Western Australia (WA).

This report presents the methodology, key findings and recommendations from the trial, including an in-depth desktop review of the main Pythium species affecting carrots in Australia identified as P. sulcatum (in most cases) and P. violae (in some cases).

Replicated small plot field experiments - is the pain worth the gain? (webinar recording)

March 2018
Replicated small plot field experiments - is the pain worth the gain? (webinar recording)

The Soils Network of Knowledge (SNoK) faciliatated a webinar on replicated small plot field experiments with Steve Morris from NSW Department of Primary Industries.

Watch this webianr to find out more about the complexities of field research design and the logical case for undertaking field research in a structured manner.

Nematodes in vegetable soils - managing the bad and good ones with Dr Sarah Collins (webinar recording)

October 2017
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.

Soil Wealth and Crop Health: Vital Components to Potato and Vegetable Crops

August 2017
Soil Wealth and Crop Health: Vital Components to Potato and Vegetable Crops

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.

SOILpak for vegetable growers in NSW

August 2017
SOILpak for vegetable growers in NSW

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.

Compost use in vegetable production: a grower's perspective

June 2017
Compost use in vegetable production: a grower's perspective

Hear from Rob Hinrichsen of Kalfresh in QLD about using compost in commercial vegetable production systems. This video captures Rob's experiences in soil biology, short and long-term compost, the financial implications of using compost, and advice for starting out.

What is compost worth? Using compost in Australian vegetable systems

June 2017
What is compost worth? Using compost in Australian vegetable systems

This case study outlines the economic considerations when using compost in vegetable production systems. It is based on lessons learned from several Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) demonstration sites, during the period 2014 to 2016.

The costs of compost are largely driven by the type and quality of the compost; freight costs depends on distance; and spreading/incorporation costs depend on application rates, type of compost, machinery required, travelling time and the scale of the work.

The benefits will depend on the individual farm as well as the objectives for using compost, for example increase organic matter or prevent be collapse. The main benefits of using compost are increased organic matter, adding nutrients to the soil, increased water holding capacity of the soil, and disease suppression. It is important to consider other practices that may need to change in conjunction with compost application, such as tillage, irrigation and crop protection requirements.

Using compost in commercial vegetable production with Dr Doris Blaesing (webinar recording)

March 2017
Using compost in commercial vegetable production with Dr Doris Blaesing (webinar recording)

Watch this webinar recording from 21 March 2017 to find out more about the good, the bad and the ugly of compost use in vegetable production with Dr Doris Blaesing from RMCG.

Forthside Demonstration Site: Soil amendments on vegetable crops

December 2016
Forthside Demonstration Site: Soil amendments on vegetable crops

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.

Soil Wealth: AORA Field Day at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Demonstration Farm

November 2016
Soil Wealth: AORA Field Day at the Greater Sydney Local Land Services Demonstration Farm

Did someone say popcorn? This is just one of the crops involved in the Soil Wealth extension project at the Cowra site. Along with chickpeas at Kalbar, eggplant in Darwin, carrots in Gingin, coloured lettuce in Gippsland, and 8-kilo cabbages in Bathurst – these various projects look at tillage, soil structure, cover crops, and the resulting healthy soil using compost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Soil and plant health benefits from using compost: A long-term case study on Baldivis Farms

October 2016
Soil and plant health benefits from using compost: A long-term case study on Baldivis Farms

This case study provides a unique long-term grower perspective on using compost on a commercial vegetable farm.

Have you ever wondered what the potential benefits to soil and plant health are from using compost? Thinking about using compost? Need to know the questions to ask a supplier of compost?

Learn more from Sam Calameri of Baldivis Farms in Western Australia who started trialling compost on-farm more than 10 years ago.

Werribee Farm Walk and demonstration site update – can 'softer' tillage work?

September 2016
Werribee Farm Walk and demonstration site update – can 'softer' tillage work?

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.

Kalfresh Farm Walk and demonstration site update: June 2016

July 2016
Kalfresh Farm Walk and demonstration site update: June 2016

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.

Australian Standard for composts, soil conditioners and mulches

June 2016
Australian Standard for composts, soil conditioners and mulches

The objective of this Standard is to provide manufacturers, suppliers, customers and government bodies with the minimum requirements for the physical, chemical and biological properties of composts, soil conditioners, mulches and vermicast, as well as labelling and marking, in order to facilitate the beneficial recycling and use of compostable organic materials with minimal adverse impact on environmental and public health, by avoiding biosecurity and phytotoxicity risks associated with inappropriate product.

Carbon storage in vegetable soils

May 2016
Carbon storage in vegetable soils

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

April 2016
Erosion: how to protect your soil

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.

Southern Fields Vegetable Farm Demonstration Site - Experiences from leading growers

February 2016
Southern Fields Vegetable Farm Demonstration Site - Experiences from leading growers

Hear from Tasmanian lettuce grower Colin Houston about the exciting demonstrations being run on his new farm aimed at improving profitability and sustainability.

Managing Plant Health and Soils in Vegetables - Experiences from leading growers

January 2016
Managing Plant Health and Soils in Vegetables - Experiences from leading growers

Vegetable growers and advisors talk about how implementing integrated crop protection and new soil management practices has changed their business.

Building Soils for Better Crops

November 2015
Building Soils for Better Crops

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.

Curing Compost: An antidote for thermal processing

October 2015
Curing Compost: An antidote for thermal processing

This article by Bob Shaffer discusses the need for curing, techniques and the potential benefits of curing compost.

Advanced Biological Farming

October 2015
Advanced Biological Farming

This book by Gary Zimmer, a farmer in the United States, provides support for farmers who would like to reduce chemical inputs and use natural processes within their farming systems.

Sustainable Management of Soil-borne Plant Diseases

October 2015
Sustainable Management of Soil-borne Plant Diseases

This publication from ATTRA (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service) in the United States provides information on improving disease suppression within soil.

Use and understanding of organic amendments in Australian agriculture: a review

September 2015
Use and understanding of organic amendments in Australian agriculture: a review

This scientific review provides insight and data on:
- the types of organic amendments available for use in Australian agriculture
- the purported benefits of applying different groups of organic amendments to plant-soil systems
- why adoption of organic amendments in Australia has been relatively slow
- why organic amendments will become increasingly important in Australian agricultural systems.

Compost for Vegetable Growers: What is Compost?

September 2015
Compost for Vegetable Growers: What is Compost?

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?

September 2015
Compost for Vegetable Growers: Why Use Compost?

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

September 2015
Compost for Vegetable Growers: Getting Started

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

September 2015
Compost for Vegetable Growers: Choosing a Supplier

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

September 2015
Compost for Vegetable Growers: Using Compost

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

September 2015
How to compost on farm

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

Soil guru shows how it’s done at National Horticulture Convention

July 2015
Soil guru shows how it’s done at National Horticulture Convention

“SOIL health to create wealth” was the motto at an AusVeg farm tour last week as the tour visited the Soil Wealth Kalbar.

Compost for Soils

June 2015
Compost for Soils

Compost for Soils is a free, independent source of information about the use of compost in agricultural systems.

The site has a range of fact sheets and case studies focused on commerical use of compost in vegetables, vines, tree horticulture and broad acre crops.

Reduced till in vegetable production —WHY?

May 2015
Reduced till in vegetable production —WHY?

A reduced till system on this Cowra vegetable farm delivered soil, cost and crop benefits.

Reduced Till in Vegetable Production - HOW?

May 2015
Reduced Till in Vegetable Production - HOW?

NSW farmers, Ed and James Fagan explain how they developed a reduced tillage vegetable farming operation in Cowra, NSW.