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Mulching for Microbes

Mulching for Microbes

Wagin, Western Australia

  • Author: SWCC
  • Date Posted: Aug 27, 2014
  • Category:
  • Address: Wagin, Western Australia

Project Details

Project Delivery: Wagin Woodanilling Landcare

Contact: Danielle Short (SWCC- Narrogin). Ph 9881 0202. Email:

Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture

Start Date:  June 2014                     End Date: Dec 2017

Site ID:  SF22

Size Are Ha: 90


Project Aim

This project will examine if common agricultural by-products such as Oil Mallee chips, Straw, Perennials and Oat husk mulch will be an effective management strategy to influence soil biological activity to assist saline soil reclamation.


This trial aims to demonstrate how readily available farming byproducts can be used as mulch for saline soil reclamation. It is essential to establish a sustainable practice that will enable low-lying saltlands to become increase their productive value whilst improving soil health and biology which assists in the overall improvement of these ecosystems. By improving the overall health of the system and the associated soil conditions, the once unproductive land will increase in value, and in turn assist in the restoration of neighbouring remnant and riparian zones through better nutrient catchment and reduced erosion and runoff of salts, nutrients and topsoil due to poor soil structure and low in organic matter. Mulching (Oil Mallee chips, Straw, Perennials and Oat husk mulch) will be applied to saline lands in Wagin during June 2014 over a trial site of 90Ha with 6 plots of 20mX20m, and a control.

The following measurements will be taken so comparisons can be made between each plot and to the control:

  • Measurement such as Standardized agronomic soil sampling will be conducted to determine the impact of these mulching treatments after the duration of 3 years (June 2014 and June 2016).
  • CSBP standard soil sampling, water sampling and visual site and photo assessments will also be conducted Post Application test and End of the trial test – 2 times for the duration of the trial.
  •  The trial site will be visually inspected during the second year of the trial however now additional tests such as water and soil will be conducted in year 2.
  • Percentage of ground cover will be assessed visually on a scale of 1 to 10 (0% ground cover to 100% ground cover) during the months April and September. Water sampling will be conducted during September (measuring pH and CEC).
  • Photo points and GPS points will be recorded with at least 6 photo monitoring points for the site to establish accurate visual monitoring records.
  • EM38 mapping will be conducted at the beginning of the trial before treatment application and at the end of the trial period (June 2014 and June 2016).
  • Feedback will be obtained from each activity and event hosted by WWLZ relating to the trial.
  • WWLZ aims to have at least 15 attendees at the field day and soil biology workshop, and obtain valuable feedback through these extension and capacity building events.
  • Provide extension of the trial and local shows and new articles.


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