Soil biology could be the final key to unlocking the farm productivity triangle and may provide benefits equal to and beyond the other elements of no-till farming and stubble retention.
This, and the idea that healthy soil can produce a reasonable crop in unfavourable conditions, are ideas that will be examined at the upcoming South Australian No-Till Farmers Association’s (SANTFA) annual conference.
SANTFA’s research and development manager Greg Butler said farm profitability was similar to a fire triangle – oxygen, heat and fuel – with the two key elements of no-till farming and stubble retention already embraced by South Australian growers.
“We are not making the most of the biology in our soils,” he said.
“I think this has the potential to lift more than the other two elements as it is one of the more limiting factors.
“If we can close the cycle and start using plant-based solutions, we can start to make this part of the profitability of the farming system.”
Mr Butler said it was essential for growers to look at a whole system approach, which could include allowing weeds to grow before spraying, as well as planting alternate species to enable cross-pollination.
“We are definitely moving away from growers looking at products in isolation,” he said.
“If we can close the cycle, the sustainability of the entire farming system is going to be much better.”
American microbial ecologist Dr Wendy Taheri will be a keynote speaker at the conference, discussing the need to investigate plant-based options alongside no-till and reduced pesticide use to restore and maintain healthy soil.
- The conference will be held on February 19 at the Barossa Arts and Convention Centre in Tanunda.
- For more information, visit www.santfa.com.au.