Managing soil and pastures

The effective management of soils and pastures is fundamental to the productivity of the agricultural industry and the health of the environment. Soil health supports grazing and crop production, supporting vegetative cover that reduces erosion and improves the quality of water run-off into watercourses.

Soil and pasture degradation can be caused by overgrazing, over cropping and compaction from livestock or machinery, particularly in waterlogged areas and minor watercourses. Valuable farming land can also be lost through erosion, when wind and water removes topsoil and wears away land. While erosion is a natural process, it can be hastened by fire, drought, flood, overgrazing and loss of vegetation cover. Sound land management practices can combat erosion and improve soil and pasture quality.

Soil and pastures should be managed in a sustainable way that reflects the carrying capacity of the soil, land class, water resources and maintenance of ground cover.

You can improve your land management by:

  • familiarising yourself with the basics of soil and pasture biology
  • monitoring the health and productivity of your soils and pastures
  • actively promoting healthy and productive soils
  • seeking advice from experts on how best to achieve these goals
  • not overgrazing your pastures
  • fencing your property to land class for grazing purposes
  • excluding livestock from seasonally waterlogged areas.

Managing erosion

Erosion can impact greatly on land production and the environment. Areas prone to erosion should be managed differently.

You can improve your land management by:

  • conserving native vegetation in and around streams and wetlands
  • using minimal tillage, which is an established method of maximising cropping production while minimising the potential for erosion
  • maintaining perennial pasture species to provide more permanent groundcover than annual pastures
  • avoiding overgrazing by livestock
  • considering revegetation or farm forestry using native species for areas of erosion.

Scratching the Surface: Soil Biology in Agriculture

Scratching the Surface; Soil Biology in Agriculture forum was held in south Australia in May 2017 to engage leading producers, agro-ecologists and soil biologists to help us understand the latest science and how to apply theory to our practical broad-acre cropping and pasture based systems.

Hear from the key speakers and follow the link to their Scratching the Surface presentation: 

Principles and strategies to create symbiosis and synergism, the presentation will cover the nuts and bolts of pasture-based, beyond-organic regenerative farming. Joel will direct us from family dynamics and succession to marketing and keying on economics and emotion.       

 How to increase carbon and water holding capacity through applying a biological approach to on farm management.

Introducing holistic grazing management principals to address soil pasture and animal health issues.

How to best manage agricultural systems through optimising the relationship between soil microbes and production outcomes.

 Understanding the best economical solutions to improving your soil health and production through soil biology testing.

  •  Matthew Denton, Rodney Capon and Bruce Creek – Lawrie Co and Cygnet Park Group of Farms - Biologicals

How biologicals are integrated into current agricultural systems and the on-farm economics of biologically based systems.

Best bet applications to improve soil health based on soil biology research outcomes from the New Horizons project.

 


Related links

More information

  • Sustainable Productions Programs Manager
    37 Dauncey Street, Kingscote SA
    08 8553 4440
    kinrc@sa.gov.au