Project Delivery: Global Pastures
Contact: Danielle Short (Narrogin). Ph 9881 0202. Email: Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture
Start Date: June 2014 End Date: Dec 2017
Site ID: SH3
Size Are Ha: 20
A farm scale trial (20 ha) will be undertaken over 4 years to measure the impact of establishing the perennial legume lebeckia on the soil health of non-wetting, deep sandy soils. The project is designed to assess the soil fertility benefits of lebeckia, to improve methods of establishment and to harvest seed to enable larger sowings.
Lebeckia has been established in 3 x 1ha trials (Quartermaine property) since 2010, with the oldest now into its 4th season. This trial aims to establish a further 10 ha in 2014 (Quartermaine (5ha) and Astbury (5ha) properties) and 10ha in 2015 (Astbury Property).
Measurement of changes in soil health and interpretation of analyses will be undertaken by an Honours student at Murdoch University. Increases in soil fertility will be quantified through comparing different ages of lebeckia stands (new sowings and mature stands) with control samples from neighbouring but unplanted regions of the paddocks.
Soil parameters to be measured at all sites, twice annually with 3 sample replicates are; total soil carbon and nitrogen (0-10cm, 10-20cm), total organic matter and soil microflora (0-10cm) via carbon dioxide release (live carbon).
Annual soil measurements are; non-wetting surface properties, invertebrate activity, and root associated carbon at depth (10-100cm organic carbon and nitrogen).
Additional trial measurements include:
- Assessment of establishment success by measuring the number of plants per 10 sq m according to different sowing practices (wetting agents, scalloped furrows). Plant growth and survival in response to different periods of grazing by fencing the sowings and assessing plant survival twice per year.
- Records of lambing percentages in sheep grazing the lebeckia in years 2-3 after the fields are established
- Calculations of extra profitability of these soils with lebeckia relative to the status quo.
- Adoption by other farmers by creation of a lebeckia users group.
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