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Friday, 23 July 2021

North East Soil Health Community Grants applications extended until 8 August

Community groups in North East Victoria with ideas to increase awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the region’s soil now have until 8 August to apply for five grants of up to $7,500 each to deliver their programs.

The North East Soil Health Community Grants are allocated through the Securing North East Soils Through Knowledge Exchange project that supports community groups to undertake activities that increase awareness and adoption of land management practices to improve soil health. The four-year project is supported by North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

North East CMA Project Officer Sam Gitahi said the nominated projects should promote community awareness as well as adoption of farm management practices that improve soil condition, focusing on reducing soil acidity and hillslope and gully erosion in north east Victoria.

“Acid soils are a major cause of land degradation and threaten the productivity of agricultural soils in North East Victoria,” Mr Gitahi said.

“Nearly half of the five million hectares of Victorian land affected by very acidic topsoil – which is indicated by low soil pH – are found in the north east region. Highly acidic soils reduce crop and pasture growth and productivity, decrease availability of nutrients in the soil, and increase the risk of erosion through reduced plant cover.

“Applications can come from existing groups in the region such as Landcare, BetterBeef, BestWool/BestLamb, dairy, ecological farming or other farming industry groups.”

Mr Gitahi said applications for funding would be assessed on a competitive basis and successful groups will have between 10 and 20 months to deliver their projects. Two projects will be completed by May 2022 and three by April 2023.

He said the projects must address soil acidity as the primary focus of the project, but community groups are also being encouraged to include awareness and practice change around soil (gully and hillslope) erosion as a secondary priority.

“Community projects could deliver a soil acidity management training workshop and/or hold field days or other events to demonstrate and share knowledge of practices, innovations, new science or simply test potential solutions to address these problems.

“They could also test the viability and application of new farming practices, techniques and/or technology, or conduct soil tests to help address the problem of soil pH and soil erosion.”

Mr Gitahi said previous community grant projects had involved a range of training events and demonstrations including:

  • Comparing continuous cropping versus mixed use paddocks
  • Training nut farmers in soil acidity
  • Soil testing, and
  • Comparing soil health under different native/other vegetation.

Community groups should apply using the EOI application form on the North East CMA website at https://www.necma.vic.gov.au/Projects/Current-projects/Securing-North-East-Soils. A factsheet on the community grants program which includes the selection criteria is available on the same webpage.

For further information, contact Mr Gitahi at samuel.gitahi@necma.vic.gov.au or 0418 145 240.

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