Farmers champion soil health

The West Australian

WA's Soil Health Champions have been revealed in the push to highlight the importance of soil health in the State's southern agricultural regions.

The announcement comes in the lead-up to the Talkin' Soil Health conference in Kojonup in September, and in recognition of the 2015 International Year of Soils.

The farmers were nominated and chosen for the work they were doing in promoting healthy, sustainable soils on their properties.

Manjimup avocado and cattle farmer Doug Pow has been selected as the South West Catchment Council's Soil Health Cham- pion.

One of his more interesting practices has been feeding charcoal to his cattle, which is eaten by dung beetles and incorporated into the paddock to improve soil fertility.

In the Northern Agricultural Catchment Council's region, Buntine farmer Stuart McAlpine has been focusing on encouraging soil biology by adding organic stimulants into his farming system.

Nine years ago he began extensive on-farm research and development leading to a more efficient farming system while cutting back on fertiliser.

Achieving improved resilience in his soils has improved nutrient use efficiency and enabled him to reduce risks in dry seasons.

A similar focus on soil biology has been shared by Wheatbelt NRM's Soil Champion Rob Grylls.

He's been manufacturing his own liquid organic fertiliser on his Bencubbin farm, using among other things, lupin chaff, straw and sheep manure.

He spreads the fertiliser using liquid injection at seeding and spraying post emergent, as well as applying compost from metropolitan waste centres.

He is also trialling the incorporation of oil mallee mulch from on-farm plantings.

To hear more from these innovative farmers, and other leading industry experts, you can attend the Talkin' Soil Health conference in Kojonup on September 10 and 11.

To register online, go to www.talkinsoilhealth.com.au .

The event has been funded through the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.

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