A $770,000 project trialling different methods of improving soil carbon is set to reveal its results after Tweed Shire Council officers conducted tests on 30 properties in recent weeks.
Assisted by soil scientist Dr Peter Bacon, Council officers tested the carbon levels in soils on sugarcane, banana, vegetable, orchard, dairy and beef farms before starting a three-year program of nutrient recycling to increase the carbon content.
‘The results will be revealed and interpreted during a soil carbon workshop in December or January,’ Council’s sustainable agriculture field officer, Hamish Brace, said.
‘These results will not only provide valuable insight to the state of soil health in various locations and farming industries; they will also set benchmarks to evaluate the success of the nutrient-recycling trials.’
The tests will be repeated at the end of the three-year project, following annual applications using a range of nutrient-recycling methods to build soil health.
‘The program will recycle local resources such as municipal green waste, dairy manure, forestry and roadside wood chips to boost carbon levels, enhance soil structure and fertility, reduce soil acidity and lessen the effects of pests and disease,’ Mr Brace said.
‘After the first round of tests was completed in August, each participating farm received a soil analysis report.’
He said participating farmers had since completed the first application of composts on the sugarcane and sweet-potato farms and orchards.
Many of them are also setting up to plant summer legume cover crops, which will further build upon the effects of nutrient recycling.
The $774,000 project has largely been funded by a $586,500 grant through the federal government’s Action on the Ground program.
Dates and locations for the workshops will be announced soon. For updates and further details, visit the Sustainable Agriculture page on Council’s website at http://www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/Agriculture.