David Hardwick performs a ribbon test to assess the texture of the soil.

Digging in for good soil health

 SOIL health and tips on managing land to achieve good healthy soil will be the subject of a series of up to five workshops conducted in North Queensland by soils specialist David Hardwick.

The Digging Deeper workshops will be held in the Charters Towers district, and, possibly, Bowen, between February and June next year.

This event was offered by the NQ Dry Tropics’ Regional Landcare Facilitator, funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Peter Arthofer said the workshops would be valuable for anybody managing agricultural land.

Mr Arthofer is looking for people from a range of primary production ventures to host workshops in turn.

Those on the course will then visit properties from different streams of primary production and learn from each other as a result.

“Participants will get a comprehensive soil analysis as part of the course, and receive tailored professional advice,” Mr Arthofer said.

Course participants, from horticulture, grazing or cropping, will take turns hosting the workshops, with about a month between each one.

He said a soil action plan would be developed for each participating property, another major benefit for each landholder.

David Hardwick is an agroecologist with experience spanning more than 20 years in farming and food production systems.

With a background in community development and horticulture, and hands-on experience in dairy farming, he has had an extensive career in landcare extension, agronomy, soils, agribusiness, biofertiliser, organics and farmer training.

His passion, however, is agroecology, and giving farmers knowledge – and power – to make a difference.

The Digging Deeper workshops will cover a number of topics including:

  • soils and how they function;
  • soil nutrients on-farm;
  • how different farm practices affect soil health and fertility;
  • soil tests, including how to read them with confidence and assess soil health in the paddock;
  • monitoring, identifying and mapping soil types across a property; identifying soil constraints such as low organic matter, pH, soil salinity and compaction;
  • setting benchmarks for your soils and taking effective action to address issues; and
  • biofertilisers, fertilisers, soil amendments and the range of fertility input options.

Anybody interested in hosting, or attending, a Digging Deeper workshop in the Charters Towers or Bowen regions should contact Burdekin Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Peter Arthofer (peter.arthofer@nqdrytropics.com.au, or ph: 4799 3541 or M: 0488 675 033).

Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Peter Arthofer (left), and agroecologist David Hardwick.