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Central Ranges

Sustainable-production:  Addressing soil acidity

High Priority

What is this issue

Increase in soil acidity.

Impacts of the issue

  • Decline in production
  • Increased risk of soil erosion associated with areas of low cover

Causes

  • Long-term use of nitrogen fertilisers
  • Removal of natural biomass (native vegetation) as buffering capacity
  • Insufficient lime application (poor awareness and knowledge, low priority for landholders)

Barriers

  • Access to lime source supply (cost and transport)
  • Time and money
  • Not knowing or understanding soil pH and associated soil health
  • Not apparent or noticeable in the short-term
  • Some soil types are naturally deficient so not one fix for all variation within and between paddocks
  • Lack of knowledge about where to seek help and contractors
  • Contractors don't like work on smaller blocks (suitable contractors and equipment)(L)
  • Unreliability of contractors
  • Not all merchants will sell agricultural lime
  • Negative perceptions of what natural resources management can offer to lifestylers and property managers (soil fertility a lower priority for valuing and selling properties)

Who plays a role

  • Agricultural businesses
  • Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
  • Landholders
  • Primary Industries and Regions SA
  • Private consultants
  • Re-sellers
  • SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board 

Strategies and Actions

Improve landholder motivation and capacity to manage soil health

  • Raise awareness of the importance of good soil health and the impacts of soil acidity on production
  • Provide landholder extension on soil management needs, including promoting tools available to assist landholder decision-making (e.g. phone apps), expert services and contractors
  • Promote ‘Open Farm’ days as demonstrations of best practice
  • Subsidise soil testing and reporting for landholders and provide whole farm analysis and information regarding management options
  • Find new sources of lime to address shortages in availability for agriculture
  • Develop cooperatives for infrastructure needed to apply lime and fertiliser
  • Work with and educate re-sellers to help provide advice to landholders and prompt them to test soils
  • Provide access to a centralised database to store landholders soil test results, potentially through a phone App

Investigate new techniques for managing soil acidity

  • Conduct field trials and demonstrate alternatives to lime such as biochar, compost and green matter