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Improving production on sandy soils

Sandy soils are a common landscape feature in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. Farming on these soils can be challenging due to low plant available water holding capacity, low organic matter, low nutrient availability, compaction, non-wetting and high risk for wind erosion.  

However, research has demonstrated that improvements in feed production and carrying capacity are possible on these soils through different interventions and changes to soil structure.

Building on previous research, the Improved grazing production on non-wetting sands project will look at opportunities to improve feedbase and livestock productivity on sandy soils by addressing subsoil chemical, physical and biological constraints.

New technologies and techniques will be demonstrated in livestock production systems where research has already been done, with some tactics also to be tested in pasture-based systems.

Benefits to producers

This project aims to reduce the overall cost of production per hectare by identifying cost-effective options to produce and convert more feed to increase carrying capacity and livestock production.

The project will give producers an opportunity to look at the effectiveness of different treatments and practices to improve sandy soils, measuring plant growth response, dry matter production and feed nutrition values.

It will also test the cost effectiveness of the treatments on sites across the project area.

Project activities

The project will run from November 2020 to June 2026.

  1. Three demonstration sites have been established at Coomandook, Field and Western Flat. Core producers will be regularly involved in the progression of these sites, with a site-specific selection of three to five treatments tested on each.
  2. Demonstrations on these sites will look at methods of improving the soil, feedbase and management to extend the growing season, increase pasture utilisation and optimise fertiliser use.