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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.

Upcoming events

Keep an eye out for annual spring field walks.

Past events

Coomandook agriculture bureau sticky beak tour

On Wednesday 15 September 2021 the annual Coomandook sticky beak tour was undertaken in partnership with the Coomandook Ag Bureau. The day included field visits and updates on:

  • National Crop Variety Trial Site – Cooke Plains
  • Telemetry for weather, ground water, soil moisture, soil salinity
  • Improving grazing production on non-wetting sands, Meat & Livestock Australia project
  • GRDC Soil amelioration project
  • GM Crop trial
  • Commodus Clear Field Barley demonstration site

Check out the update from the MLA Non-wetting sands project on page 13 of the Coomandook agriculture bureau sticky beak tour booklet.

Meningie East – Field Healthy Soils Farm Walk

On Thursday 23 September 2021 a Meningie East Field Healthy Soils Farm Walk was held.

24 producers attended this event which covered the following components:

  • Revegetation to reclaim saline areas
  • Telemetry for weather, ground water, soil moisture, soil salinity
  • Improving grazing production on non-wetting Sands, Meat & Livestock Australia project

Check out the update from the MLA Non-wetting sands project on page 11 of the Meningie East – Field healthy soils farm walk booklet.