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Beechworth conference to build soil knowledge

16 April 2021

A conference in Beechworth next month aims to support land managers, agriculture industry groups, Landcare participants and industry staff in north east Victoria in building their knowledge and understanding of soil health issues and practises that will reduce soil acidification.

The North East Regional Soil Health Conference 2021 on Friday, 14 May, will provide the latest information about monitoring and managing soil acidification, including:

  • The importance of soil pH in agriculture production in north east Victoria;
  • Soil sampling and testing;
  • Current research and extension in cropping and pasture systems;
  • Soil amendments to manage pH in cropping and pasture systems; and
  • Soil erosion issues and management in the region.

The free conference is supported by North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. It is part of a 4-year soil health project seeking to promote land manager awareness, capacity and on-farm practice change to improve soil acidity management in the region.

This project is a partnership between the North East CMA, Landcare, agricultural industry, academic institutions, State agencies and the National Landcare Program that aims to change on-farm management practices to improve soil condition, particularly focusing on reducing acidity and hillslope and gully erosion in north east Victoria.

North East CMA project officer, Mr Sam Gitahi, said soil acidification is a major land degradation issue threatening the sustainability and productivity of agricultural soils in north east Victoria with about half of the four to five million hectares across the State affected by strongly acidic topsoil located in this region.

Mr Gitahi said a further two to three million hectares in north east Victoria had moderately acidic topsoil.

He said continued acidification of North East soils would result in a number of key threatening processes for land managers including decreased availability of nutrients and a reduction in plant growth and productivity.

“There is therefore a need to promote awareness among land managers and the wider community about the importance of soil acidity and its management; support behaviour change to improve soil management practice; and ensure that research, development and the extension system are meeting their needs,” Mr Gitahi said.

“This is an opportunity to hear outstanding speakers and to network with key industry personnel and landholders from north east Victoria who all have a keen interest in promoting soil health and how it can be improved.

“The Victorian Government sees the management of soil acidification as a priority and complementary to the Victorian Land Health Program.

“The Australian Government’s National Landcare Program aims to achieve by 2023, an increase in the awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of soil, biodiversity and vegetation, with soil acidification as a primary investment priority.”

The conference will be held between 9.30am and 4.15pm at the George Kerferd Hotel, 22 Oak Ave, Beechworth.

Register on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/148873922

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