FREE Guide to Tropical Soils

NEW GUIDE TO TROPICAL SOIL HEALTH

25 NOVEMBER 2021

A new guide to soil health in the tropics is giving farmers ‘the dirt’ on everything from microbes to soil management.

Soil specialists, farmers and natural resource management organisations have worked together on the Tropical Soils handbook, which is a free publication and available to download online.

‘Tropical Soils – A Guide to Soil Health for Australian Farmers and Graziers’ has been written by well-known agroecologist David Hardwick. It includes practical stories from a wide range of farmers in the Wet and Dry Tropic regions.

The guide covers the basics of tropical soils from soil types, biology and organic matter to structure, nutrient cycling and soil chemistry. It also outlines 10 principles of regenerative soil management and steps to more healthy and productive soils for cropping, orcharding and tropical grazing.

It has been released months after the Australian Government announced its first national soil strategy, with an emphasis on improvement of the nation’s productivity and land through sustainable practices.

Terrain NRM’s CEO Stewart Christie said interest in soil health had been building momentum across the region since the organisation began delivering soil health programs in 2014.

“Soil health is one of our strategic focus areas because healthy soils have multiple benefits,” he said.  “Farmers obviously benefit from healthier crops and productivity, and there are also benefits for climate change and water quality runoff to the Great Barrier Reef.”

Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Evizel Seymour said ‘Tropical Soils – A Guide to Soil Health for Australian Farmers and Graziers’ was written in response to the increasing demand for knowledge and information about soil health practices across the Wet Tropics region.

“Farmers are trialling new practices and they are thirsty for knowledge – we now have two farmer-led soil health groups in the region,’’ she said.

“Wet Tropics Soilcare and the new Lower Wet Tropics Soilcare are networking groups for farmers that hold field days where you can learn from others by seeing first-hand how new practices have been implemented, from multi-species fallow crops to bio-fertilisers and composting,” She said. “Farmers can see what is working and how to adopt new things without reinventing the wheel.”

The guidebook includes the stories of some of these farmers and graziers, and also stories from landowners in the Burdekin and northern Australia.

Guiding principles in the handbook range from matching farming enterprises to soil type, maintaining groundcover and soil organic matter to maximising the carbon-growing season and plant diversity while minimising soil disturbances.

Download:

Tropical Soils – A Guide to Soi Health (for printing)

Tropical Soils – A Guide to Soil Health (to read online)

This project has been supported by Terrain NRM, Reef Catchments and Northern Gulf NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. It has also been supported by the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership and Soil Land Food.

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