16 DECEMBER 2020

An ever-increasing focus on soil health is behind a new farmers group in the Far North.

Cane grower Alan Lynn is calling on farmers from across the region’s agricultural industries to join the new Lower Wet Tropics Soil Care Group, which will focus on Herbert, Tully and surrounding districts and work hand in hand with the neighbouring Wet Tropics Soil Care Group.

Mr Lynn and a committee of farmers from across the cane, grazing and horticulture industries have been working with natural resource management group Terrain NRM to set up the group for farmer networking, shared learning, paddock trials and soil health-related events.

“Soil health is a priority right across our farming industries – from cane to horticulture and grazing,” Mr Lynn said. “We all develop systems that work for us but having others to share ideas and results with when we’re trying new things can be very helpful.”

The fourth-generation cane farmer has been working to reduce soil compaction on his land by installing global positioning system or GPS equipment in his machinery, widening his cane rows, reducing the amount of times machinery passes over his crops and planting multi-species crops on fallow land.

Mr Lynn said a Digging Deeper soil health course with Terrain NRM six years ago was a catalyst for change and more recent soil health innovation tours – with a focus on cover cropping and soil stimulants including compost, biochar and organic fertilisers – had also been useful.

Terrain NRM’s Digging Deeper coordinator Rowan Shee said soil health was becoming more of a focus for landholders, and many were seeing good results from improving soil carbon, structure and nutrient cycling to manage soils for the longer-term.

He said the focus was on helping landholders to improve long-term productivity and profitability while also improving the land.

“People are sharing their experiences in keeping soils covered, in increasing plant diversity in fallow crops, inter-rows and pastures and in minimising soil disturbances,’’ Mr Shee said.

“The groups are also working with us to bring agroecologists and farmers from elsewhere who are successfully improving their soil health to the region.”

Mr Shee is working with farmers on the new group as part of its Digging Deeper project. This project is supported by Terrain through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

To find out more about the new Lower Wet Tropics Soil Care Group, phone Alan Lynn on 0419 722 101 or Michael Waring on 0428 771 361. For more information about the Wet Tropics Soil Care Group phone Mareeba lychee farmer Mal Everett on 0439 829 159 and for information about the Digging Deeper program phone Rowan Shee on 0458 875 745.


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