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A tale of two soil pits

Diversity of soils and how they affect plant growth was the focus of a workshop for growers in the Endeavour Valley last month.

Hosted by Cape York NRM, 13 growers met with Consultant Agronomist Dr David Hall, on December 10, to examine two soil pits in the Endeavour Valley; one at Rivernook Estate and one at Red Foot Flats.

Digging a hole

“It was great to see some new faces and get more people involved in the Soil Solutions project,” Cape York NRM Sustainable Industries Officer and project coordinator Natalie James said. “It was a pretty warm day, but very much enjoyed in the company of the growers,”

The Smart Farms Small Grants - Soil Solutions project was established in early 2022 by setting up four demonstration sites in the Endeavour Valley catchment of Cape York Peninsula to teach farmers about soil testing, managing soil health and how this can improve efficiency and production.

So far, all baseline data has been established for the case studies and significant practice change has been implemented.

“Over the course of the day we discussed the different characteristics of soils found in the two pits, and the ways these characteristics influence plant growth and our management systems,” Nat said.

“We looked at something pretty sandy, with very low available nutrients, contrasted by a fairly clayey soil, and the comparisons really highlighted how much water filtration and soil test results can vary and why.

“It was also great to be able to hand out our new Soil Basics Handbook, which we completed just in time for the event, and of course, enjoy a terrific barbecue at the end of the day, put on by Cape York NRM’s Ben (Ansell) and Harry (James).”

The new handbook was written by David Hall and designed and produced by Cape York NRM and is a practical guide to soil analysis and testing techniques.

“This Soils project is the first of its kind for this region and I really think we’re attracting a lot of interest as we continue to gather information and see some positive early results at the four demonstration sites,” Nat said.

Information and data being collected during the life of the project, which runs for another year, is being shared with all growers in the region and will contribute to a national database under the National Soil Strategy.

The Smart Farms Small Grants: Soil Extension Activities Project, is being coordinated by Cape York NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.