The Innovation on Farms project is engaging with agricultural industries across the South West to run a number of large-scale trials with a focus on innovative farming practices for improved NRM outcomes.
The trials are farmer-driven, involve high level monitoring and have a significant focus on extending information and communication to facilitate the progression from proof of concept to wider practice change and adoption. The trials are collaborative in nature and draw on the expertise of a wide range of sources.
The innovations trialled are new technologies or practices, or incremental changes to existing technologies. Ten trial sites have been established under this project across 21 farms, covering 336 hectares, with trials set to commence on two more farms in 2015-16.
Practices being trialled include:
- Making compost on dairy farms to improve soil health
- Releasing dung beetles to incorporate manure;
- Introducing diverse perennial pasture rotations into potato crops;
- Improving soil structure with biochar;
- Evaluating the new salt-tolerant pasture legume messina;
- Balancing investment in phosphorus and lime on high phosphorus and low pH soils;
- Establishing cereals with perennials in the high rainfall zone to minimize losses during the establishment phase of perennials;
- Alternative crop nutrition strategies to improve soil health;
- Demonstrating the soil health benefits of promoting stubble breakdown by crunching and treating with fish hydrolysate; and
- Demonstrating the benefits of the Enrich mixed forage shrub grazing system.
Six field days have been held to introduce the trials and facilitate discussions on soil health, as well as one extension training event.These events were very popular with 200 people attending, including 99 landholders not directly engaged with the project and 95 interested community members. The project has also engaged 23 community and grower groups in total. Videos have been developed for three trials and uploaded to YouTube, with over 410 views to date. Two soil health videos in particular have helped increase knowledge and awareness of basic soil health principles along with two annual technical reports and ten published articles.
Nine field events are planned for 2015-16 to share the preliminary results of the trials. The events will be combined with presentations on similar topics where feasible and will be supported directly by growers. To start the conversation, a soil health conference, Talkin’ Soil Health, was held in Kojonup on 10-11 September, in collaboration with Wheatbelt NRM, South Coast NRM and Northern Agricultural Catchments Council.
“We can’t have healthy cattle unless we have healthy pastures, and we can’t have healthy pastures unless we have healthy soils.”
Blythe Calnan, Binningup.
Did you know that our soils have far more biodiversity in them than our above ground ecosystems? Microscopic organisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae that form microbial communities on which we depend for our soils to function and be productive.
- Blackwood Basin Group
- Bittleyonge Farm
- Bugs and Biology
- Evergreen Farming
- Manjimup Pasture Group and Planfarm
- Southern DiRT
- Warren Catchments Council
- Western Dairy
8 farms conducting trials
21 farms conducting trials
20 people with improved knowledge and skills
95 with improved knowledge and skills