Farm soil testing – major nutrients

Up to now we’ve looked at some of the main physical factors in the soil at the Gembrook horse property. Now its time to look at the other main nutrients and the soil’s fertility. Soils have an ability to loosely hold nutrients to prevent leaching and to make them slowly available to plants. This applies…

Farm soil testing – acidity and phosphorus

In a previous blog entry, March 11 2014 I described some of the physical factors in a pasture soil in Gembrook that I had tested. The soil was very acidic with a very low proportion of fresh organic matter. Exchangeable acidity results from prolonged leaching of good nutrients from soils. The pool is considerable larger…

Sustainable farming – what is it?

Yesterday as a guest of Trevor and Anne-Marie Mills and the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network I attended a field day on the Mills’ dairy farm at Drouin South. Amongst the principles of sustainable agriculture are that farming should: – provide an amenable lifestyle for the farmer & family – protect and enhance the productive…

Acidity and major nutrients in dairy farm soil

What is the connection between soil pH, acidity, nutrients and amount of lime required to raise the soil pH? When we think of soil acidity most people think of pH. But pH is a measure of active acidity which can be measured with a meter, test strips or indicator solution or powder. In simple terms…

How much phosphorus is in dairy farm soil?

How much phosphorus is there in farm soils? I’m in the process of carrying out a quick assessment of soils on a dairy farm in West Gippsland. Phosphorus use is an increasingly important topic from a $ cost as well as environmental perspective. In this study samples were taken from the same sites previously tested…

Organic matter in dairy farm pasture

The benefits of organic matter in soil are well known. Organic matter improves factors including water holding capacity, nutrient holding capacity and structure. But organic matter can be made up of more longer lasting humus through partially broken down material to fresh material from plants and animals that has recently entered the soil. This fresh…

A simple test for reactive soil organic matter.

Of all the factors that can be measured in soil, fresh, reactive or labile organic matter is one of the more important. Its a tool that can be used to monitor seasonal changes that depend on strategies like cover crops, composting and residue retention. This test can be valuable for home gardens, horticulture, pastures or…

How much organic matter is in your soil?

Of all the factors that can be measured in soils, organic matter (OM) is probably the most useful and critical. This test measures the fresh or labile organic matter in soil. This organic matter supplies nutrients to plants because it is the food for microorganisms which in turn release nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen. Some…