World Soil Day celebration at Muresk

World Soil Day celebration at Muresk


This year's theme is 'Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity'.


The Muresk Institute will host a free, farmer-focused event for World Soil Day this Saturday.

A United Nations International Day of Significance, World Soil Day highlights the importance of healthy soil and advocates for its sustainable management.

This year's theme is 'Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity'.

Perth NRM and Regen WA will present 'Digging into Soil Biodiversity', where guests will hear from Western Australian farmers and industry stakeholders about how they are working to improve WA soils.

The day will focus on providing a practical range of solutions for farmers looking to improve their soil health and biodiversity.

Integrated Futures natural capital accounting researcher Sue Ogilvy, who will be presenting, said there had been a huge transformation in agricultural practices over the past 40 years.

"Farmers have worked with scientists to work out the best ways to balance productivity and sustainability and the progress that's been made so far is outstanding," Ms Ogilvy said.

"Natural capital for a farmer is their vegetation, including their pastoral and crop lands, their above and below ground water resources and, of course, underpinning all of that is soil.

"What we do above ground has such an important effect on our soils so it's important we have a way to make sure farmers are supported to look after that natural capital as best they can, including making sure that society is sharing some of the cost and responsibility for natural capital management."

Ms Ogilvy said there was an enormous interest and willingness within the industry to support farmers to maintain their productivity, profitability and to assure food security.

"Days like this are instrumental in getting the word out because agriculture is so complex and learning from other farmers is absolutely vital.

"It can also be a bit of a lonely profession so the opportunity to meet others is absolutely fantastic."

Manjimup farmer Dean Ryan will also be presenting on the day about projects that he has and is in the process of implementing on his farm to improve the quality of his soils.

Mr Ryan said carbon had been stripped from the soils at his 320 hectare farm which produces potatoes, gold kiwifruit, organic avocados, lemons, beef and lamb.

"I've been cropping potatoes for a long time and that, in particular, has had a pretty bad effect on the soil so I'm trying to fix that by using techniques that rapidly sequester carbon," Mr Ryan said.

Making a new type of fermented compost, Mr Ryan adds in trace elements, minerals, fertiliser and cooks the compost so that the nutrients become plant available, not water soluble.

"The normal stuff is aerated where you keep turning it and you're putting air in but this is an exclusion of air," Mr Ryan said.

"If you put in urea or single super, that's water soluble and it can lock up in the soil by reacting with other things.

"For example, the phosphate can lock up with calcium and iron so that it becomes insoluble and not available to the crops."

Mr Ryan said his fermented compost had been effective so far and that he was continuing to research regenerative agriculture practices to make his crops insect and disease resistant and lift their photosynthetic efficiency.

"The process is a bit longer than when you put synthetic fertiliser on a crop and you see results pretty quickly," Mr Ryan said.

"It's a bit of an evolving process as new techniques come to light.

"I'm also looking at data driven systems where I can measure a lot of these things with drones and soil moisture monitoring equipment."

WA Soil and Land Conservation commissioner Cecilia McConnell, who's role includes preventing land degradation, promoting soil conservation and educating the general public about land management, will be on site to discuss issues and challenges the commission will focus on.

Guests will also be treated to a 'Picnic in the Paddock' lunch prepared by the lovely Country Women's Association (CWA) of WA ladies.

The event will run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday December 5.

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