Healthy soils are the basis for successful primary production operations. Healthy soils ensure the best possible grazing or crop production through the retention and provision of required nutrients to plants. Without healthy soils, primary production operations may be become inefficient and unviable. Some of the typical soil health issues seen in the Huon Valley include:
Soil compaction is where the soil surface or sub surface is compacted by increased pressure from machinery, vehicles, or livestock. While surface compaction can be remedied by tilling the soil, heavy machinery can cause sub surface compaction which can only be remedied by slow natural processes.
In order to avoid this, mark out set machinery and vehicle pathways in crop and pastureland and stick to these. This will contain compaction of soil to a limited area and ensure crop growth or grazing areas are in peak condition. Rotation of larger grazing animals between paddocks will limit the risk of over grazing, soil exposure and walking track compaction.
Incorrect farming and land management practices can facilitate rapid erosion of top and subsoils. The cost of rehabilitating eroded soils is high so prevention is key. Ways in which you can limit soil erosion include:
- Maintain a good basal vegetation cover. Avoid over grazing or stripping vegetation unnecessarily.
- Consider sowing a cover crop between cropping operations to help bind the soil.
- Retain or return organic matter to crop lands to maintain soil organic matter content and associated microorganisms (which are integral to binding soil particles into aggregates that are more erosion resistant).
- Nitrogen fixing ‘green manure’ crops, such as grain legumes or peas, can be grown and tilled back into the soil to improve nitrogen content and aid in topsoil creation.
- On sloped sites, implement mulched or brush lines regularly along the slope contour to break water flow and capture any soil runoff.
Soil nutrient levels and dead wood removal
Surface dead wood is a critical component of the natural nutrient cycle which maintains soil health in natural areas. Dead wood provides habitat for decomposer organisms, such as beetles, bugs, and earthworms, which aid the decomposition process. Nutrients which were taken up from the soil and stored in the live tree as woody material are, after its death, fed on by these organisms and returned to the soil. When dead wood or plant material is removed from a site, the nutrients a plant removed and stored are removed with them. This lowers the potential available nutrients to that particular area and ultimately degrades the soil condition.
Try and avoid or stagger dead wood removal in natural bushlands. If you source your wood from service providers, make sure they are accredited by the Firewood Association of America.
For further information and assistance with soil management, visit contact FarmPoint Website or phone on 1300 368 550.
For further information on fire wood collection visit NRM South Website.