SOIL BALANCING COURSE FOR FARMERS

29 MARCH 2021

Far Northern farmers can learn more about soil health and balancing soil chemistry at a two-day workshop in Cairns.

Wet Tropics Soilcare and Terrain NRM are bringing soil specialist Derek Smith to the region on 12-13 June for an event that is open to primary producers across all industries.

Wet Tropics Soilcare president and Mareeba lychee grower Mal Everett said farmers had an ever-increasing focus on the land underneath their crops and the best ways to keep it healthy for long-term sustainable farming.

“The emphasis these days, even state and Australia-wide, is on soil health. For us, it’s all about improving the soil while also keeping costs down. If we can improve our soil’s biology, it is a more cost-effective way than increasing inputs, and there are a large range of benefits.

“Looking at ratios of different nutrients in the soil is part of the big picture of soil health. What you take away from courses like this varies from farmer to farmer and farm to farm… but there’s always something new to learn.”

Terrain NRM agronomist Sally Fields said the Working with Nature Soil Balancing course would cover ways to improve water-holding capacity of soils, soil microbes, healthier populations of beneficial soil organisms, improving the soil’s structure, soil balancing, nutrient delivery to plants and increasing pasture, livestock and crop yields.

She said the enthusiasm of farmers to learn more about soil health showed in the number of people registering for Digging Deeper soil health programs with Terrain and the high attendance at field days on soil health topics in recent years.

“Wet Tropics Soilcare and the new Lower Wet Tropics Soilcare group have been formed as farmer-driven hubs in response to the region’s soil health movement,” she said.

“These groups and courses also connect farmers on their journeys to improving farm soil. Workshops – on things like better understanding soil test results and knowing more about the intricacies of what’s going on in soils – happen in conjunction with the farmer peer-to-peer learning. There is a real sense of ‘we are in this together’, with farmers happy to share information and learn from each other. It’s great to see.”

Bringing the soil balancing course to Cairns is part of WETS’ events calendar and part of Terrain NRM’s Digging Deeper project. The Digging Deeper project is supported by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Register and find out more:
The Soil Balancing workshop is on 12-13 June at the Cairns Colonial Club. For more information, visit Eventbrite

About Derek Smith, Soil Balancing Course presenter:
Derek is a longtime farmer who initially embraced natural farming as a way to solve problems with his land and crops that chemicals weren’t fixing. For the past 20 years he has worked with producers across Australia in a diverse range of industries, climates and landscapes, sharing his experiences on the farm, as a TAFE Armidale horticulture and organic farming instructor and through his further studies in farm management, advanced soil management, grazing for profit and holistic management. He is currently running beef cattle, free range layer hens and prime lambs on his property at Guyra in New South Wales.

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