Soil Health

Western Australian (WA) soils have formed as part of one of the oldest and most stable land surfaces on Earth. Consequently, our soils tend to be highly weathered and of low fertility. Soil types are highly variable across the state depending on geomorphology, climate, hydrology and vegetation cover. WA soils range includes deep sands, duplex soils, gravels, loams and heavy clay.

The pressure on growers to produce ever higher yields has exacerbated a number of soil health issues. Further information provided via the links below may help you identify and treat soil health issues on your property.

Soil Acidity

Soil acidity affects more than 70% of soils across the Southwest of Western Australia and is a natural consequence of agriculture caused by the removal of plant material (pasture and crop), application of nitrogen fertilisers and leaching of nitrates…read more

Wind Erosion

Wind erosion is a seasonal issue, particularly in medium to low rainfall areas where the main landuse are annual crops and pastures that leave paddocks bare and susceptible over warm dry summers and early autumn…read more

Soil Organic Carbon

Organic carbon improves soil quality through assisting many physical, chemical and biological processes. It influences soil colour, nutrient holding capacity, nutrient turnover and stability…read more

Soil Biology

Soil is a complex and dynamic habitat for soil organisms. Beneficial biological activity is heavily dependent on organic matter which provides a food supply for many organisms and this is influenced by land use, soil chemical composition and climate…read more

Soil Structure Decline

Soil structure decline is a phenomenon caused mainly by excessive tillage. DPIRD estimates the cost of lost crop and pasture production from subsoil compaction at $330 million for WA’s agricultural soils…read more

Water Repellence

In WA an estimated 5 million hectares are affected or have the potential to be affected by water repellence. Sandy soils with less than 5% clay are most at risk of water repellence…read more

Dryland Salinity

Dryland salinity refers to all soils in non-irrigated areas that have become saline as a result of clearing for agriculture resulting in a rising watertable that draws ancient salt deposits the surface and subsurface...read more

 

References and Resources

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). Accessed 27 February 2018. ‘Soil acidity in Western Australia.’ https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/soil-acidity/soil-acidity-western-australia

McKenzie, N. et al. 2017. ‘Priorities for improving soil condition across Australia’s agricultural landscapes.’ CSIRO. https://publications.csiro.au/rpr/download?pid=csiro:EP177962&dsid=DS3
Soil Quality http://www.soilquality.org.au/

Wheatbelt NRM. 2013. Wheatbelt NRM Soil Health Guide. https://www.wheatbeltnrm.org.au/sites/default/files/knowledge_hub/documents/Wheatbelt%20NRM%20Soil%20Health%20Guide_standard.pd

Australia Wide Farm Trials Search Engine: Online Farm Trials https://www.farmtrials.com.au/

 

Useful Contacts for Technical Advice

Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA): https://www.aora.org.au/

Australian Sandalwood Network: http://sandalwood.org.au/

Corrigin Farm Improvement Group (CFIG): http://www.cfig.corrigin.com.au/

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD): https://www.dpird.wa.gov.au/

Facey Group: http://www.faceygroup.org.au/

Fruitwest: http://www.fruitwest.org.au/index.php/fruit-groups

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC): https://grdc.com.au/

Greening Australia (WA): https://www.greeningaustralia.org.au/

Integrity Soils: https://www.integritysoils.co.nz/

Liebe Group: http://liebegroup.org.au/

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research: https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/home

Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement Group (MADFIG): http://gga.org.au/group/merredin-and-district-farm-improvement-group-madfig/

Soil CRC: http://www.soilcrc.com.au 

Soils for Life: http://www.soilsforlife.org.au/index.html

Southwest Agroforestry Network (SWAN): https://www.swagroforestrynetwork.com.au/

Western Australian No-Tillage Farmers Association (WANTFA): http://www.wantfa.com.au/

Wines of Western Australia: http://www.winewa.asn.au/