The purpose of the Grassing the Bare Patches project is to trial different methodologies for establishing ground cover on persistent bare patches in paddocks in a small farm setting. The three farmers involved in the trials, Allan, Jennie and Harji met with the committee, Dr Jason Condon from the Graham Institute of Agriculture and Helen Smith from South East Local Land Services to develop a protocol for the project. The final protocol will be published soon.
So, what is going on with the soil in the demonstration plots to make them hostile to plant establishment when other areas nearby are doing better? Part of the story is to find out what is happening with the soil. Jason helped us design a soil sampling protocol to test the soil 0-20cm in 5cm depths. We want to find out if there is something going on with the soil that prevents the establishment of pasture and even weeds!
In September 2020 the farmers headed out into the paddock to take soil tests from each site. The sampling included a ‘normal patch’ of paddock and a bulked sample across the treatment sites in 5cm depth intervals down to 20cm. These samples will be tested by Nutrient Advantage.
The 0-5cm and 5-10cm tests (test code CT122) include analysis of organic carbon, exchangeable calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, CEC, pH in water, pH (CaCl) and electrical conductivity.
The 10-15cm and 15-20cm tests (test code CT 179) are the same as CT122 without the organic carbon analysis. Testing the subsoil will allow us to find out if the soil conditions at depth are affecting plant growth.
If you would like to learn how to take soil samples check out this link from Holbrook Landcare. You can watch demonstrations about how to check for subsoil acidity and soil sampling. If you would like to take your own soil samples you can contact your Local Land Services Office for soil corers and sample bags.
This project is made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program. Assistance with the cost of soil analysis was provided by South East Local Services.