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Soil Sampling for Soil Quality

Before you can decide how you are going to soil sample you need to be clear about the purpose of your sampling. Different sampling approaches may be required depending on what you are sampling for, the soil type, the management unit (e.g. paddock), soil spatial variability (changes in soil type, dunes-swales etc), the accuracy required of the result, and the value given to the information provided. So before you start, define very clearly the question you are asking of your soil samples. Consult a professional soil scientist, agronomist or your analytical laboratory to be sure that your soil samples are taken at the right time, from the right depth, the right place, in the appropriate number, and are stored in such way that the analysis required is not compromised. If quantitative soil analyses (kg/ha) are required then soil bulk density must also be measured and this requires considerable care.

Soil Sampling for Soil Quality - SA

Different sampling approaches may be required depending on what you are sampling for, the soil type, the management unit (e.g. paddock), soil spatial variability (changes in soil type, dunes-swales etc), the accuracy required of the result, and the value given to the information provided . So before you start, define very clearly the question you are asking of your soil samples.

South Australian Soil Quality Program

The GRDC’s Soil Biology Initiative and the associated website www.soilquality.org.au provide the Australian grains industry with a unique resource on soil quality including soil biology, chemistry and physics.

The Soil Biology Initiative is a wide wide ranging program that involves research into new techniques and is benchmarking soil quality throughout grain growing Australia, while being a resource for information on a range of soil related issues. The program focuses heavily on stakeholder involvement with workshops and forums being held in every state.

The contacts for more information on the Soil Biology Initiative are listed on the fact sheet.

Queensland Soil Quality Program

The GRDC’s Soil Biology Initiative and the associated website www.soilquality.org.au provide the Australian grains industry with a unique resource on soil quality including soil biology, chemistry and physics.
The Soil Biology Initiative is a wide ranging program that involves research into new techniques and is benchmarking soil quality throughout grain growing Australia, while being a resource for information on a range of soil related issues. The program focuses heavily on stakeholder involvement with workshops and forums being held in every state.

West Australian Soil Quality Program

The GRDC’s Soil Biology Initiative and the associated website www.soilquality.org.au provide the Australian grains industry with a unique resource on soil quality including soil biology, chemistry and physics.

New South Wales Soil Quality Program

www.soilquality.org.au provides a unique, interactive resource to the Australian grains industry on soil quality, including soil biology as well as soil chemistry and physics. The web site allows growers to benchmark their paddocks against values for their local catchment and region as well as against expert opinion. This information aids growers to determine if they are heading in the right direction with their systems and practices and supports growers to improve soil management practices.

The Soil Quality Monitoring Program and the web site www.soilquality.org.au are expanding to include grainproducing areas across Australia. This will give growers across Australia access to regionally specific data on soil biological, chemical and physical constraints to production.This will aid the Australian grains industry to make better management decisions.

Soil indicators for measuring vineyard soil quality

In order to assess and monitor whether viticulture practices are having an impact on soil quality, it is necessary to measure soil properties over time. The soil properties chosen should be responsive indicators of the soil functions being assessed. A minimum dataset (MDS) is the minimum suite of properties determined to be required for monitoring soil quality.

Subsoil Constraints - Qld

Subsoil constraints are properties in the subsoil that limit the ability of plants to utilise soil water and nutrient resources. Subsoil constraints may be chemical, physical or biological in nature, and several constraints may occur together in some soils. Subsoil constraints have a significant impact on soil water storage and use, nutrient regimes and crop growth. The identification of the most limiting constraint and its interaction with other factors is a first step to plan for sustainable site-specific resource management.

Assessing soil quality and interpreting soil test results

Soil quality, in a viticultural context, can be thought of as the soil’s ability to support grapevine growth and the production of a crop (with consideration to both yield and quality) without resulting in soil degradation or harm to the environment. It includes the functions of soil such as the provision of a medium for vine growth, the retention and release of water, nutrient cycling and the regulation of biological populations. The assessment of soil quality should therefore include the analysis of its physical, chemical and biological properties. By conducting a range of field and laboratory analytical tests, grape growers can determine
whether corrective action is required to alleviate any constraints to soil use or whether their practices are having any beneficial or deleterious impacts on soil quality. In established vineyards, soil testing is undertaken regularly (i.e. annually or biennially) in order to provide information that is required for making decisions on the need for and application rate of inputs such as fertilisers, soil amendments (e.g. lime and gypsum) and bio-fertilisers/inoculants (i.e. products which contain living micro-organisms).

Soil sampling methods for monitoring vineyard soil quality

In order to assess and monitor whether viticulture practices are having an impact on soil quality, it is necessary to measure soil properties over time. The sampling strategy for soil quality monitoring should be standardised and consistent to be able to have confidence in the comparisons.
i.e. same time, same place, same method!

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