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December 2020

New Sustainable Agricultural Officer
Regenerative agriculture grants open
Eastern Eyre soil management opportunites
Upcoming soil acidity workshops
Seasonal Summary for the Eyre Peninsula region
Are you looking for information on EP soils?
Follow us
December 2020 newsletter

Welcome to edition 10 of Farmers Connect from the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board and facilitators of our Regenerative Agriculture Program, Agriculture Innovation and Research EP (AIR EP).

We hope most of our readers are well into harvest. For those farmers who have been experiencing dry conditions in the eastern part of our region, we have a new grants program just established to help with summer crops. We encourage those interested to contact us by December 4

Also, our regenerative agriculture grants are currently open, with applications accepted up to December 11.

We have recently welcomed our new Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer who can help farmers with our grants and other projects. 

Please have a read of these articles in this edition and contact us if we can help you with any of these topics.

All the best for a happy and healthy festive season (yep, it's just around the corner).

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Josh Telfer  
New Sustainable Agricultural Officer

Hi I’m Josh Telfer, I’m just starting with the team at AIR EP, as a Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer, focused on delivering some projects for the EP Landscape Board.

I’ve come from working on a mixed family farm at Ungarra for the past ten years, and have been involved in the Lower Eyre Ag Development (LEADA) committee for the past four years. Prior to this I worked for PIRSA in soil and land management conservation, based out of Cleve, Port Lincoln and Jamestown, as well as having worked internationally in Bangladesh and Sudan on some agricultural projects.

My wife, and three boys and I live at Ungarra. I’m passionate about Eyre Peninsula, and particularly it’s agriculture across all its different climatic zones, and I think we have a bright future.

One of things I’m working on is the two small grants projects looking at investigating and demonstrating the use of multi-species cover crops, and also the effects soil amelioration can have on soil carbon. Funded by the National Landcare Program and supported by the EP Landscape Board, the projects are being delivered on their behalf by AIR EP.

There are significant financial resources available for both individuals and groups to help investigate and facilitate these sorts of thing across EP, so feel free to contact me if you wish to know more (and see article just below for more grant details).

Contact Josh Telfer on 0458 709 585 or susag@airep.com.au

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Eyre Peninsula crops.

Regenerative agriculture grants open

Eyre Peninsula farmers looking to increase their soil carbon or try out new practices can access funds to establish demonstration sites on their own farms.

Aimed at improving soil health and sustainability, the grants are available to individual farmers or farmer groups for a range of activities to reduce soil erosion, increase soil biodiversity and soil health across a range of soil types, in large ‘farmer scale’ demonstrations.

There are two funding streams available - plant based options to improve soil health using mixed species crops or pastures and summer cover crops; and using interventions intended to overcome subsoil constraints and have long term benefits for increased soil organic carbon and productivity across a range of soil types. Interventions might include deep ripping, rock crushing, and addition of soil amendments.

The Australian Government, through the National Landcare Program, has funded our Regenerative Agriculture Program, which is being delivered by the grower group Agricultural Innovation & Research Eyre Peninsula (AIR EP).

AIR EP Executive Officer, Naomi Scholz, is administering the program and is looking forward to seeing the outcomes of the demonstrations.

“Some of the projects funded in recent rounds are providing really interesting options for farmers. I have seen demonstrations that have provided far more pasture for sheep by providing better adapted pasture species, coupled with improved grazing management to make the most of the feed on offer, even in poorer rainfall years,” Ms Scholz said.

“By linking the projects with local farmer groups, it enables a wider spread of information. Seeing the demonstrations, what works and even what is not so successful, in their own areas, applied by their neighbours, is a really powerful way of sharing between farmers.”

Applications close December 11. See our grant webpage for more details including guidelines and application forms.

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Eastern Eyre soil management opportunites

We have just started up a new project in a bid to help farmers who have been going through dry conditions in the eastern areas of Eyre Peninsula.

On behalf of the Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group, Franklin Harbour and Roberts-Verran Ag Bureaus, AIR EP has obtained funding from us with the main aim to improve cover on bare soils over summer.

We are calling out for members of these groups who may be interested in trialling summer cover crops (if the conditions are right for establishment) and monitoring the benefits or impacts of these or any other activity related to improving soil cover/soil function prior to the next winter season. This could include monitoring production on summer cover crops already established or the establishment of “paired” sites comparing with and without summer crops.

Monitoring activities could include:

  • soil water remaining in Jan/Feb/March to assist with termination timing; 
  • N mineralisation; 
  • comparison of root disease tests etc, so we have more information about where summer crops might fit in our dryland farming systems;
  • and the potential impact on the following crop.

If anyone is interested in having someone come and help with monitoring these activities or in undertaking activities to improve soil cover, can they please provide a brief email to eo@airep.com.au with these details:

  • name
  • farm location (road address)
  • what sort of activity you would like to try on your farm (e.g. sowing a summer cover crop of mixed species, monitoring plant production and impact on soil water and summer weeds, soil modification such as delving)
  • rough area estimate you would like to try it on (e.g. 1 ha)
  • contact number and email address
  • willingness to have other farmers come and look at the site

Once we have a list compiled, David Davenport of Davenport Soil will be in touch to clarify activities, then a Review Panel made up of the farmer group chairs will select activities to be supported and/or funded.

Please contact Naomi Scholz 0428 540 670, eo@airep.com.au or Amy Wright 0467 004 555, ralf@airep.com.au if you would be interested in participating, by December 4.

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Upcoming soil acidity workshops

Workshops will be held early next year to help landholders and land managers identify, understand and manage acidic soils including the causes of soil acidification on their properties.

Planned for February and March next year, AIR EP in conjunction with us, will conduct the series of interactive ‘Farming Acid Soils Champions’ workshops.

Most of the acidic soils on Eyre Peninsula are clustered around the Lower EP and the Cleve Hills on Eastern EP. However, with modern farming practises there is evidence that acidification is affecting soils in districts not historically thought of as being acid prone.

Agricultural practices including the use of nitrogen fertilisers and the removal of products like grain, hay, meat and even wool can accelerate the rate of acidification. Whilst not always intuitive or directly obvious when compared to the impacts of some other soil issues like salinity or even erosion, acidity can frequently lead to secondary agronomic issues including poor water and fertiliser use efficiency, poor crop competition and biological problems such as poor nodulation and nutrient cycling which can all affect productivity.

Some of these impacts can be abated through targeted lime applications, which with good management and planning, can be very effective and economic.

So if you are a landholder or farm manager and would like to find out how you can get involved, please contact Josh Telfer on 0460 000 290 or susag@airep.com.au. Workshop places are limited.

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Seasonal Summary for the Eyre Peninsula region

Climatic conditions / events

• Rainfall for September was very much above average in lower, eastern and central Eyre Peninsula, and falls were highest on record around Arno Bay, Cleve and Cowell. Western Eyre Peninsula received generally above average falls dropping off to around the average around Port Kenny.
• Thunderstorm activity on 22 and 23 October brought rain of up to 35 mm on upper EP and 10 to 15 mm in eastern EP.
• Average daily maximum temperatures were around the average for the whole of the region. Average daily minimum temperatures were average to above average.
• Spring rainfalls have increased water contents of soils.

Land Management

• Continued damp and warm conditions resulted in further growth of crops and pastures.
• Crop and pasture regrowth and a rapid germination of grasses and summer weeds improved paddock surface cover across the region, including paddocks in eastern EP that had poor early surface cover.
• Re-sown areas on sandy rises germinated well after September rains. These areas now have enough cover to protect against erosion, but careful management is required to ensure they remain protected.
• A few isolated sandy rises in central and eastern Eyre have been bare all season and remain at risk of erosion.
• Windrowing of canola began in mid to late October. Windrowing reduces surface cover but paddocks generally have adequate residues for protection from erosion.
• Small areas of pulses and barley were reapt in western and eastern EP near the end of October; but regrowth in cropped paddocks, delayed ripening due to milder conditions and high moisture levels has delayed the start of harvest across the region.
• Warm, dry conditions enabled most producers to start harvest early in November but harvest could be slowed by the presence of green growth in paddocks.
• Spraying of summer weeds such as caltrop, melons and heliotrope has started.
• Extra pasture growth has provided good spring feed but paddock biomass, particularly in western and eastern Eyre districts, is less than usual. Most livestock producers have cut or bought hay and will retain grain to replenish supplementary feed supplies.
• Regrowth has substantially increased surface cover on paddocks cut for hay. Most of the hay cut in western and eastern Eyre districts was baled before October rains could cause significant damage, but large areas cut for export hay around Kimba were rain affected and are unlikely to be of export grade.
• Runoff from October rainfall filled many dams in the Cleve Hills 50% or more, alleviating the need for carting water over summer.
• Livestock are in excellent condition.

Source: Department for Environment and Water: Erosion Risk on Agricultural Land – October 2020

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Are you looking for information on EP soils?

Through our Regenerative Agriculture Program we updated our sustainable agriculture sections of our website earlier this year to provide farmers with a comprehensive resource of soils information.

The Soil Management page is a one-stop-shop for soils, their constraints, production potential, maps, fact sheets, management options and much more.

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Want to see what the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board is up to before the next edition of Farmers Connect? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to see our latest news.

The Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board came into effect on 1 July 2020, replacing the former Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Board.

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This Regenerative Agriculture Project is supported by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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