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Soil Health workshops in Bega and Moruya

June/July 2018

Andrew Taylor, Senior Agriculture Advisor

South East Local Land Services in partnership with the Bega-based Far South Coast Farmers’ Network held a soil health workshop in Bega on Tuesday 5 June. A similar workshop was held in Moruya the following day in partnership with a group of farmers interested in forming a network similar to the Bega-based group. A total of approximately 80 people attended the workshops, including large cattle and sheep producers, dairy farmers and small vegetable producers.

David Hardwick, an agro-ecologist from Soil and Food, presented an engaging and practical overview of soils, including understanding soil health, soil biological and chemical fertility, soil testing and fertility inputs.

At the Bega workshop, local agronomists from Southern Farm Supplies and Bega Agricultural Services also provided a local context in soil testing and fertiliser inputs. The consensus was that the predominant granite-based soils of the Bega Valley were not necessarily high in nutrient or great at holding moisture, but that they do respond well to fertility inputs and rain. For that reason, putting an effort into increasing fertility meant you can capitalise on rainfall when it comes.

Farmers went away saying they had a much greater understanding of the complexity of soils and ways to manage their soils to both drive productivity and keep the soil organisms happy.

“David really presented the complex interactions of soil biology and chemistry in a simple way and made me think much harder about how I manage my soils,” said Rex Hergenhan, a local beef farmer from Bega.

Keith Dance from Moruya agreed, adding “One of the best things about the workshop was the networking opportunity that getting over 50 people from different farming backgrounds together to learn about a subject so central to their operations allowed. I look forward to many more workshops in the future.”

The workshops were made possible by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.