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Southern Fleurieu

Sustainable-production:  Addressing soil acidity

High Priority

What is this issue

Increasing soil acidity.

Impacts of the issue

Reduced profitability of farming enterprises due to less pasture production, increased weeds, increased soil erosion.  

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 NRM 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. 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 etc
  • 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 e.g. Biochar, compost, green matter