The Healthy Soils - Sustainable Farms Program was a rewarding experience for all who took part in it's 2012-2013 iteration. Four on-farm trials took place with Flynn Farm Discussion and Landcare Group members. A Soils Analysis Workshop with Chris Alenson was held to discover the meaning behind the results from soil tests and also a field day was held, where we learnt more about soil carbon and the four farmers shared their on-farm trials in detail.
You can view and/or download the case studies of the four trials - see left hand column.
The on-farm trials gave the farmer a taste of what running a trial is like, without getting too technical. These 'trials' were really a demonstration of how to set up a hypothesis, basic design and monitoring for finding out some answers to the question the landholder wanted to know. A true trial would have been set up with a long-term, replicated design with triangulated monitoring to find answers to the question being posed. However, these demonstrations on-farm provided a great opportunity for the farmer to receive some support in learning more about the soil health of their chosen on-farm site.
All the farmers had the following carried out to collect baseline data. Most farmers participated in the paddock with these tests;
- soil samples taken and lab tests carried out at the start and end of the project in both treatment and control sites
- 1 metre soil core samples taken from treatment and control sites
- field pH tests along the length of the core sample
- independent DEPI analysis of core samples for carbon density
Other testing that was done as part of the on-farm trials, included:
- pasture species transects
- heavy metal testing of lime and dolomite samples
- independant chemical analysis of lime and dolomite samples
At the end of the project, all the four farmers did fantastic presentations on their trial and their interpretation of the findings.
The Gippsland Soils Trial Directory is available for viewing online or via this link http://www.wgcma.vic.gov.au/index.php/publications/regional-menu/284-the-gippsland-soil-trial-directory.html