Protect soils and yields with advice from expert panel

Losing just one millimetre of topsoil in a wind erosion event can result in significant changes to soil fertility and cause yield losses in subsequent crops of up to six per cent.

But there are some measures growers can take to protect their topsoil and reduce the impact of severe wind.

Crop stubble retention, careful cultivation and clay spreading are among the measures discussed by industry experts in a recently developed Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) podcast.

Cropfacts consultant Harm van Rees, Agronomy Solutions director Sean Mason and South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions consultant Mary-Anne Young join in a discussion on dealing with the effects of wind erosion via ongoing soil management or tactics when multiple dry seasons have ruled out other options.

The podcast also discusses research findings from the GRDC investment, ‘Using soil and plant testing data to better inform nutrient management and optimise fertiliser investments for grain growers in the southern region’, which is focused on increasing growers’ use of soil and plant testing.

Dr Mason says wind erosion plays havoc with soil nutrition and fertiliser decisions for future crops – problems often-overlooked following erosion events.

“We know that just one millimetre of topsoil lost in a wind event equates to around 12 tonnes per hectare of soil,” he says.

“With this, you’re losing valuable organic matter and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, and you’re potentially left with changed production zones within a paddock determined from normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), yield maps and soil tests.”

Soil testing after erosion events is the best way to determine how fertility has changed and what fertilisers are required by the crop.

Growers seeking more information about preventing soil erosion, managing eroded soils, nutrient management, paddock zoning and soil testing, can refer to a new GRDC Managing eroded soils fact sheet.

The GRDC podcast can be found here.

Source: GRDC

Featured Image Credit: Brad Collis ©GRDC