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Better Soils, Better Water

Words Sandra Lloyd

The Cape York landscape has ancient and fragile soils which require careful management to ensure the long-term health of the land and connecting waters of Cape York.

Lakeland horticulture producers recognise this and are improving farm management practices to help improve their soils, reduce runoff and improve the quality of water draining off their properties.

Cape York NRM’s Paddock to Reef team and agricultural community work in alliance to make progress toward best management practices and implement targets identified by the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Activities include erosion reduction, establishing a biofertiliser factory and rainfall simulation project, and on - site water quality testing using samplers and photometers to test nitrogen and nitrate levels in water running off farms.

Farmers are adopting a whole range of practices to support improved soil health including adding water soluble fertiliser to irrigation systems, and regularly applying compost to increase organic carbon levels in soils to increase its capacity to hold moisture and in turn, reduce runoff.

Land managers are also embracing electromagnetic mapping which sends signals into the soil to test for moisture, texture and salinity and projects results onto property maps.  This allows producers to identify different soil compositions and identify the best sites for soil sampling, and more efficiently schedule fertigation and irrigation events.

Paddock to Reef is funded through the Queensland Government's Natural Resources Investment Program