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About Soil Quality

About Soil Quality

Developing cost efficient management practices and farming systems to improve soil quality is essential to sustainable agriculture in Australia and world-wide.

Recent experience has shown that improvement in soil structure, soil organic matter content and nutrient performance is possible through changed management practices. Improved soil quality leads to better production performance including reduced input costs for herbicides, pesticides and fuel, less wear on machinery and more efficient use of water and nutrients. The next wave of productivity improvements in Australia will come from the foundation of agriculture – the soil itself.

Why monitor? Land holders seek to increase or optimize plant and animal productivity whilst maintaining on-site and off-site environmental impact. This is achieved through the implementation of a variety of management practices and philosophies which have a direct effect on biological, chemical and physical properties of the soil resource. Through appropriate monitoring of these properties over time positive and negative changes in soil quality can be identified with the overriding goal of developing better farming systems.

Soil properties presented in this web site can be interpreted in one of two ways. For some soil properties target values are known. Here one-off sampling can be used to determine if a soil is above or below the target value. For other soil properties target values are not defined and it is important to recognize that subsequent monitoring over time is required so that positive and negative trends become apparent. Here monitoring through time provides land holders with a means of illustrating positive outcomes from their stewardship.

Objectives

Establish benchmarked sites to identify and highlight the nature and extent of soil biological, chemical and physical constraints to production systems.

Provide the basis of an ongoing soil quality monitoring and education program.

Contributors

The University of Western Australia has a unique combination of expertise spanning physical, chemical and biological aspects of the environment as well as the impact of human activities on that environment. The Institute of Agriculture provides research, training and outreach for agriculture and resource management.

Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia provides assistance to the State’s Agriculture, Food and Fibre sector to be sustainable and profitable, with a clear focus on export-led growth. The Department will enhance the international competitiveness of the State’s agribusiness by working with them to meet the increasingly demanding standards for safety and quality of food and fibre products produced in an environmentally sustainable way.

Wheatbelt Natural Resource Management is the regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) group for the Avon River Basin and administers investment for on ground projects that will result in positive NRM outcomes for the environment, economy and community. This is funded by the State and Australian Government through the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. The preferred future for the Avon River Basin is to enjoy a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable rural lifestyle within a healthy and beautiful landscape, including land, water, biodiversity and built infrastructure, which is characterised by innovation, cooperation, the use of local wisdom and skills, strong social engagement and democratic processes, and a willingness to share our rural culture with others both inside and outside the region in a manner that contributes to global sustainability and celebrates our sense of place within our unique landscape.

Grains Research & Development Corporation is one of the world’s leading grains research organisations, responsible for planning, investing and overseeing research and development, delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry. The GRDC’s mission is to invest in research and development for the greatest benefit to its stakeholders – grain growers and the Australian Government. The Corporation links innovative research with industry needs. The GRDC’s vision is for a profitable, internationally competitive and ecologically sustainable grains industry.

South Coast Natural Resource Management is an incorporated non-profit association owned and directed by the people of the South Coast Region of Western Australia. SCNRM is not a statutory body. It is strongly independent, benefiting from a high degree of volunteerism, which reflects the strong sense of ownership and commitment within its community. SCNRM embodies a close working relationship between community and government agencies with a long term vision to sustain the natural resources of the South Coast Region.

Grower Group Alliance is a network of grower groups, research providers and grains industry representatives located throughout Western Australia. It is a grower group initiative made possible through funding support by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and now includes the former Local Farmer Group Network (LFGN). The project aims to enable growers to access the latest information and research, which will allow them to make the best possible decisions for their farming businesses. It will achieve this by (i) Establishing formal communication pathways between growers, researchers and industry, and (ii) Developing collaborative projects with industry based on key research issues common to Alliance members.

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