“Increase profitability and sustainability by managing soil type variability within farm”

The Liebe Group has received Nation Landcare Program (NLP) funding to carry out a new project. The project, ‘Increase profitability and sustainability by managing soil type variability within farm’ will be conducted in collaboration with CSIRO and will engage 6 farmers to work with from within the Liebe Area.

Throughout the Northern Agricultural Region there are approximately 160 thousand ha of soil with acidic topsoil (pH < 4.5), 70 thousand ha of soil with acidic subsoil with another 1.9 million ha at risk of sub-surface acidity, 1.7 million ha of soils with high susceptibility to compaction and 1.4 million ha of land at risk of becoming saline.

When cropped, these low production areas are prone to soil erosion and weed infestation, as the crops do not establish well and have poor root development. They are unable to provide soil cover or compete with weeds and these limitations translate into poor yields and poor water use efficiency.

Over the last 5-10 years yield mapping technology has been incorporated into harvesting machinery. However, the majority of growers have not utilised the technology to its capacity by using yield maps to identify and then manage different zones of poorer or high performance in the paddock.

This project will build upon farmer’s own knowledge of their farms, using precision agriculture tools such as yield mapping and satellite imagery to analyse production patterns both within and across paddocks. The aim will be to identify areas that are consistently poor, consistently good and inconsistent either way then work out whether these areas are being managed to their potential. If not then alternative management plans will be developed and designs will be drawn up for trials to test the alternative management plan. By gathering yield data from throughout the Liebe Area, a district analysis can also be performed by utilising satellite imagery technology and creating comparisons between these and the yield mapping data.

The Project Objectives are:

  1. Assist growers with using pre-existing tools to identify and map areas of lower productivity.
  2. Identify whether unproductive areas can be cost effectively ameliorated or need to be managed as a separate land unit.
  3. Work with growers to develop programs that can be implemented on unproductive areas in the future.

The CSIRO centre for sustainable ecosystem’s Roger Lawes and Trevor Parker will be working in collaboration with the Liebe Group to carry out the paddock and yield map analyses as well as provide technical advice to those involved in the project.

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