Soil Health

A healthy soil is the lifeblood of your farm.  Good soil structure and nutrition levels are one of the keys to profitable farming.

Once you have completed this module to at least Level 2, you will have achieved the following:

  • Established measures to prevent or minimise erosion in susceptible areas, including a monitoring plan to keep an eye on progress
  • Monitored  your soils for structural issues like compaction, hard setting, salinity and sodicity and adopted infield practices to minimise potential problems
  • Used soil tests and field history information to determine nutrient input requirements
  • Employed the most appropriate and efficient nutrient application methods and timing

Key Area: Nutrition

Crop nutrient requirements are managed efficiently and effectively

Check List:

Level 2 Crop nutrient requirements are assessed at the appropriate time (pre and in-crop) to determine a nutrient management program for a targeted yield
Level 2 A nutrient budget is prepared based on an assessment of nutrient inputs and outputs (crop removal and losses)
Level 2 Plant monitoring is undertaken during the season to assess crop nutrient status and used to adjust crop nutrient program
Level 2 Nutrient monitoring and record keeping is undertaken on a regular basis to identify any long term trends in nutrient status
Level 3 Farm trials are conducted to verify fertiliser management practices

Key Area: Nitrogen

Nitrogen use is effective and efficient

Check List:

Level 1 Ammonia gas (NH3) applications are applied by trained and accredited staff
Level 2 Soil testing is undertaken at an appropriate time to assess nitrogen levels and fertiliser requirements
Level 2 A Nitrogen Fertiliser Management Plan has been developed and implemented
Level 2 Plant monitoring is undertaken during the season to assess crop nitrogen status and used to adjust crop nutrient program
Level 2

Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) is determined for each field using Nitrogen Fertiliser Use Efficiency (NFUE) calculation. This is recorded each year and monitored over time

Level 3

Crop rotation systems that include legumes to fix nitorgen effectively are adotped when practical

Level 3 Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) is calculated and field performance is assessed against long term farm performance

Key Area: Carbon

Management decisions and practices take into consideration the impact on soil carbon levels

Check List:

Level 2 Soil carbon levels are monitored
Level 2 Minimum tillage practices are adopted where appropriate
Level 2 Crop residue should be conserved
Level 2 Prolonged bare fallows should be avoided
Level 3 Legume crops are included in rotations
Level 3 Management practices which preserve or improve soil organic carbon levels are implemented

Key Area: Soil Structure

Soil structure is assessed, maintained and improved

Check List:

Level 2 The soil surface is monitored visually for any structure issues or changes such as compaction, dispersion or hard setting
Level 2 Sub-surface structural issues, causes and potential structural problems are identified through appropriate laboratory, soil and water tests
Level 2 Field equipment, practices and operations are adopted to minimise their impact on soil structure and remediate existing problems
Level 2 Management practices are adopted which aim to maintain soil organic carbon levels
Level 3 Field variability issues are recognised, causes are explored and where appropriate addressed

Soil salinity and dispersion risks are monitored and managed

Check List:

Level 2 The presence / risk of soil salinity, sodicity and dispersion is identified and monitored through the use of appropriate tests
Level 2 Where required, appropriate strategies to reduce  the presence / risk of salinity, sodicity and dispersion are implemented
Level 2 The quality of irrigation water and its effect on the presence / risk of salinity, sodicity and dispersion is considered and managed
Level 3 Where available, knowledge from local water table monitoring programs is used to assist farm management decisions

Erosion risks are monitored and managed

Check List:

Level 2 Areas at risk of erosion have been identified, assessed, recorded and regularly monitored
Level 2 Farm layout accounts for slope and susceptible soil types
Level 2 Measures are in place to prevent or minimise erosion in susceptible areas
Level 2 Where erosion events do occur, action is taken to prevent their re-occurrence