At their last RCSN member meeting held in February 2019, both the Esperance and the Albany port zone RCSNs raised management of difficult soils as a high priority issue. Ranked 2nd for Esperance; and 3rd for Albany, both port zones wanted to see further work conducted in this area. Of particular interest to both was the ability to better identify what soil types responded best to different amelioration techniques. They also wanted economic breakdown on each soil amelioration option, looking at cost and predicted return in different seasons and over time. Management through ripping or other amelioration options of difficult soils experiencing waterlogging, sodicity and gravel ironstone caps were areas of special interest that were raised by the RCSN’s.
Growers understand that if no action is taken to address these soil constraints then the situation may worsen, however they are still unsure about what options for amelioration are providing sufficient financial returns to warrant investment. The RCSN members believe that there are complex issues with variation in soil types and constraints; and unknown potential after amelioration and in different seasonal conditions, which is leading to some confusion and making it difficult to make sound management decisions.
A number of investments have occurred in this space over many years. It was of such high importance to growers that in recent years, GRDC initiated a Soils Constraints – West investment. One of the outputs of this initiative has been the Ranking Options for Soil Amendments (ROSA) tool, which is a decision support tool intended for use by consultants, agronomists and growers to indicate soil amendment options that are likely to provide the biggest economic return for growers with multiple soil constraints. ROSA provides a cost-effectiveness ranking of soil amendment options to address one or more soil constraints within a farm business. It highlights the potential cost-effectiveness of one or more soil amendments in the short and long-term at a paddock or farm scale.
Thank you to GIWA, GRDC & DPIRD for facilitating.