identify the soil health problems

vSoil health
1- defined soil health (100 words)2- what are the risk factors for salinity, soil acidity, nutrient, rundown and soil structure decline?(700 words(3- how did you identify the soil health problems? ( 700 words)4- what soil health problems does the farm have? )150 words)5 to the most serious soil health problems identified how should John and michelle. (180 words)6- conclusion (100 words)
You decided the following actions and information were important to answering the questionsposed. Note: There were some questions that were redundant as they have been answeredin stage 1. Also it is the following year!Answer the following questionsHow did you identify the soil health problems?What soil health problems does the farm have?To the most serious soil health problems identified how should John and Michelle respond?Reply to Stage 2John did not have any recent soil tests from the affected paIDocks. Usually the agronomistinterpreted the tests for him, and he had followed their advice. In the past he had not had anyobvious nutritional problems with the forage and wheat crops so he believed it would be sameresult this time too. Hence, he decided against more soil testing because of the expense ($300)and also not to do plant analysis: for one reason it was too late and the other reason was hewasn’t sure how reliable it was. By happy coincidence he’d had chap from Dept of Agriculture,Fisheries and Forestry based in Gunnedah, as part of a soil survey team conduct some soiltesting for a soil mapping project on his properties. Their website had some great informationon soil health: had identified two main soil types: dermasols where grazed pastures are located andvertosols where the winter crop of durum wheat, and forage oats each had been planted inseparate paIDocks, after a summer bare fallow. John has not kept yield records for eachpaIDock but made sure he was meeting his contract targets, and usually found that when he didcompare yields they were close to the district average.John thought the chap who surveyed both of his soils seemed objective and had no vestedinterest. The information provided was difficult to interpret, but with the aid of theaccompanying test advice he thought he could make some sense of it. He referred John to theweb site to assist in interpretation of the results,and John later found the DPI website to be useful too
It seemed the soil tests showed that organic matter levels in the vertosols were lower than hehad assumed and in some areas were less than 1%, also there were patches of bare ground onthe lower parts of the paIDock were the crop had not germinated evenly, and resulted indepressed yield. The soil pH levels of the vertosols were marginally acidic at depth with a soilpH of 4.5 (tested in 1:5 Ca Cl2 soln), with adequate levels of available N, high levels ofexchangeable aluminium, and deficient in available P. Exchangeable sodium percentage wasincreasing with depth and hence the potential for hardsetting in the A2 layer.For his pasture paIDocks on the dermasols soil tests showed that organic matter levels werehigher than he had thought and were less than 3%. However, even though he thought the soilpH was close to neutral it had dropped to 5.0 (1:5 CaCl2 soln) in the surface layers, and he2013 Stage 2 Reply Werris Creek Farm Soil Health Identification 1wondered if this had contributed to the low clover establishment. The lower pH and high ironlevels may have contributed to the nutrient deficiencies.John, and his father before him, had been fertilising the crop and pasture paIDocks regularlyover the last 40 years because it was phosphate deficient, although the release of phosphatewas slowed due to relatively lower soil pH, especially in the sub-soil of the vertosols. John hadnever used lime, as it was quite expensive, but he uses a type of superphosphate that has someCalcium in it.The vertosols due to its high clay content throughout the profile are well buffered comparedwith the dermasols which have a higher proportion of sand. The vertosols soil pH is less likelyto be affected by changes in land management, but it is particular acidic in the subsoil (eg due toproduct removal, heavy rainfall events over summer, and type of fertiliser application). Also,John had been using nitrogen fertiliser, sulphate of ammonium as a source of N, on thevertosols after visiting a field day where the production figures spoke for themselves. John hadgrown durum wheat as it was fetching a high price but did not realise it was more sensitive tolow soil pH than other wheat varieties.Lower in the landscape where the wheat and forage crops were grown the water table had risensignificantly and was 3 m from the surface. John realised there was salinity about, but especiallyfurther west, and thought it more likely waterlogging from recent rains was leading todepressed forage yields rather than soil salinity problems. John had examined the water qualityirrigation guidelines on the DPI website:
and believed that for an unregulated creek it was well within the acceptable standards (< 280µS/cm (low-salinity water threshold) and 280-800 µS/cm (medium-salinity water threshold). Thequality of the bore water was becoming more saline, and the EC values were increasingcompared withlast year, and John relied on the bore water for irrigation and stock water.For the Landcare group soil salinity and soil acidity were a priority as they could be easilymonitored, but other issues such as soil structure decline were not considered as important. TheCaring for Our Country proposal the Landcare group had submitted the previous year had beensupported, so the work on “Corridors of Green” would continue.John has dug an area of his oat forage crop to examine the soil more closely and found the rootball was severely stunted in its development, especially between the A2 horizon. John hadhoped the past 10 yrs of minimum tillage, using narrow tynes and maybe less than 3 passes ofthe scarifier (which tends to reduce the stubble by 20%)(see Soil Erosion notes) had improvedthe soil structure, but maybe the vertosols required different strategies. John had been carefulnot to go and plough the area too soon after the rain had fallen in summer.  For both soils, thechap from the government had shown him how aggregates from the B horizon placed inrainwater had disintegrated slowly and made the water cloudy, indicating a dispersive subsoil.John felt that maybe more frequent examination of his soil structure was in order, but whatcould he do?John was glad the market was short of durum wheat due to the drought the previous year, so hemay still get a good price even if the yields were down. John had sold his crop for a good price.The drought had been on and off since 2002. John had attributed to the drought to the pasturedecline on the dermasols, and the pasture species not recovering, however he had noticed a2013 Stage 2 Reply Werris Creek Farm Soil Health Identification 2decline in the clover component (subterranean variety) and an increase in the more acidtolerant native grasses, as well as more flat weeds. John had been monitoring
groundcover inthe grazed paIDocks and on average it was 65% with a range between 50 to 70%. The contourbanks had held up against the summer storms. John had decided to renovate the upperpaIDocks where the pastures were looking rundown, and used the storms to assist in pastureestablishment, especially with summer active species such as Rhodes, Green Panic and Digiteria.John had gradually built up stock numbers but was mindful that the drought was not completelyover. The autumn dry had been followed by some much needed soaking rain, which helped theestablishment of the seeded pasture and forage crops.
2013 Stage 2 Reply Werris Creek Farm Soil Health Identification 4EM311_511 PBL Questions Stage 1 2013Questions asked by students for lecturer to answer internalCompiled 19 June 2013 (externals), 9 July 2013 (internals) no %1irrigation and drainage control measures for farm? Are the crop’s drip irrigated?How much water required for irrigation?3 1002 size of property 3 1003 Relative proportions of each land use on the farm, and soil associated with it? 3 1004 % under remnant bush – size, type, condition and location? 3 1005 surrounding land uses? Management issues of neighbours? 3 1006 Stocking rate? Type of stock? 3 1007 What are their tillage practices? Conventional or no-till? 3 1008 Use of fertiliser? Other chemicals and pesticides? 3 1009 Area of crop? Rotation history? 3 10010 land use history? Clearing and land use and land management change 3 10011 Level of education? Background knowledge 3 10012Waste management? Do they discharge into creek? Mine or Livestock ipmact onwater quality? 310013 Do you exclude stock from rivers and riparian zone, what access to water ? 2 6714 water allocation during drought? Source? Quality? 2 6715 Composition of pasture? 2 6716 Practices during drought? (integrity and duration) 2 6717 What erosion control measures have been undertaken? E.g. Windbreaks, stubblecover2 6718 extent of farming experience locally and farm management? 2 6719 How close to mine? Intensive livestock 2 6720 have practices changed over time? 2 6721 Topography 1 3322 Are they members of landcare? 1 3323 any invasive species? Any weed problems? 1 3324 Weather? Rainfall, Wind exposure, temperature 1 3325 Any riparian revegetation taking place? Condition of- regeneration and erosionpotential1 3326 How old are they? 1 3327 grazing strategy? Cell grazing or set stocking? 1 3328 Do they monitor the soil, water and vegetation quality regularly? 1 3329 Bushfire risk? Burning of stubble? 1 3330 What is their financial situation? Subsidies?31 How much of the farm affected by flood?32 soil and water pH levels?33 Are they aware of environmental change?34 Flow rate of the Mooki River35 ground cover and types percentages?36 Any endangered species?37 Depth to water table, EC of water, access to ground water38 type of foIDer? Drought and salinity tolerant?39 How much water is stored in dams?40 Is there a succession plan for the farm inherited or purchased?2013 Stage 2 Reply Werris Creek Farm Soil Health Identification 5EM311_511 PBL Questions Stage 1 201341 What are the drought subsidy?42 Ownership goals and objectives? (financial and other)43 Has the biodiversity been affected?44 Are they willing to change farm practices to aIDress drought?45 Family farm46 Do they have a property management plan?47 What is their relationship to the agencies?48tenure of the property49 Do they seek professional advice?Areas students need to investigate  no %1 Climate of area2 Do they have any acidification or salinity? 1 333 How did floods and drought periods affect the land?4 What forms of land degradation ocured on farm before? 1 335 Land suitability and capability classes of property?6 Has it been farmed sustainably?Areas students need to investigate, but did not identify1 What is a drought considered to be?2 Is farm rehabilitation worthwhile?3 What is the general influence of the drought?4 How erodibility and erosivity of the two soils?2013 Stage 2 Reply Werris Creek Farm Soil Health Identification 6Australian Natural Resources AtlasNatural Resource TopicsYou are here: ANRA home » Natural resource topics » AgricultureThis web site is nolonger being updatedIn this section you will find detailed information, including national overviews and state and regional level assessments, fromthe2000-2002 National Land and Water Resources Audit theme assessments.Australian Agriculture Assessment 2001 – Soil acidification: an insidioussoil degradation issue 

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