Soil condition management – extension and capacity building (VG13076)
What was it all about?
The vegetable industry’s Soil Wealth program was run through this project between 2014 and 2017, helping vegetable growers use relevant soil management tools and resources on their farms.
Guided by a project reference group, the team produced content that addressed the identified needs of growers on the topics of:
- Building soil organic matter and structure
- Covering the soil (mulches, cover crops)
- Less tillage (controlled traffic, reduced-till, GPS guidance)
- Correct nutrition.
Soil Wealth was conducted in conjunction with the companion Integrated Crop Protection initiative, also funded through the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.
The core of the project was development of a national network of 14 demonstration commercial farms, five of which were focused on soil management. These sites provided opportunities for growers and advisers to learn first-hand how different soil practices could be implemented on commercial farms, through a series of farm walks, field days and masterclasses.
The results achieved on the demonstration farms formed the basis of a suite of resources for growers including case studies; some 20 fact sheets on soil, nutrition and compost; videos; webinars and a website to house them, www.soilwealth.com.au.
An active social media network was also developed to improve engagement with the projects and between vegetable growers and advisers.
Soil Wealth, together with the Integrated Crop Protection project, connected with more than 1900 growers and industry people over the three-year period. More than 1000 people attended farm walks at demonstration sites, 150 attended workshops, 80 attended in-depth masterclasses and 320 attended webinars.
Evaluation showed that growers and advisers made strong knowledge gains in the soil management areas of cover crops, compost, precision farming and soil biology. The project also reconnected the vegetable industry to Australian and global soil research. A strength of the project was taking research-proven principles and, working with the vegetable industry, making them into practical on-farm management actions.
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation
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