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March 2021

Sustainable agriculture grants finalised
One-on-one sustainable ag visits
Eastern Eyre soil management project
Soil acidity workshops
Carbon + Biodiversity pilot program
Livestock technology expo brings AgTech expertise to local producers
Wind erosion help
Summer seasonal summary for the Eyre Peninsula
Open for feedback: draft Eyre Peninsula Regional Landscape Plan
More information
March newsletter

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

This newsletter provides a summary of local sustainble agriculture issues and work happening under the Regenerative Agriculture Program which is supported by the Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

A key aspect of our Regenerative Agriculture Program is providing regular grants for local farmers to try out new methods for improving soil organic carbon and increasing soil health. We have just finalised our latest grant recipients and look forward to sharing their progress with you.

This edition also includes information about an Eastern Eyre soil management project; the availability of sustainable agriculture visits; soil acidity workshops; a wind erosion survey; an overview of a recent livestock technology expo; information about the Eyre Peninsula Regional Landscape Plan; a seasonal summary; and details about a carbon biodiversity pilot program for our region.

An existing 2020 demonstration site with sorghum in the Tumby Bay hills.

Sustainable agriculture grants finalised

We are excited to announce that we have six new demonstration sites in our grant programs for soil carbon and for mixed species crop and pastures for soil health.

The six new sites will cover a range of methods with the eventual outcome of improving plant available soil carbon in a sustainable and achievable manner.

Additional soil carbon demonstrations in 2021 include:

  • treating and mixing acidic topsoil for improving soil health;
  • overcoming the degradation of dry saline land on grey magnesia country; and
  • soil amelioration through ripping and gypsum application.

The mixed species crop and pastures sites will demonstrate both the use of the summer cover crops and mixed summer cover crops as well as incorporating mixed winter crops into the rotation with the aim of increasing soil health and soil organic carbon.

The demonstration sites will be located at Brayfield, Buckleboo, Kelly, Minnipa and Ungarra.

One-on-one sustainable ag visits

If you are a landholder and would like some initial assistance with a sustainable agriculture issue such as salinity, acidity, erosion or another soil or agriculture related concern, get in touch with us.

We are able to undertake site visits and provide landholders with technical guidance to help with challenges they may be facing on their property.

For any enquires about this service, please contact our Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer, Josh Telfer on 0460 000 290 or susag@airep.com.au. Josh works from the AIR EP office.

Eastern Eyre soil management project

On behalf of the Buckleboo Farm Improvement Group, Franklin Harbour and Roberts-Verran Ag Bureaus, AIR EP obtained funding from the EP Landscape Board with the main aim to improve cover on bare soils over summer, and/or monitor existing summer crops so we have more information about where summer crops might fit in our dryland farming systems; as well as the potential impact on the following crop.

Five farmers from across Eastern EP expressed their interest and were approved by a review panel to participate in the project, which is being delivered by David Davenport from Davenport Soil Consulting.

All sites have had at least one visit with site reports being completed for each. Technical advice has been provided for ripping/delving operations. Species selections for mixed species plantings have been discussed and recommendations are being prepared. Soil sampling has been conducted on sites where soil moisture under summer cover crops is being evaluated.

Because of low rainfall following approval of the funding, activities have largely focused on a number of activities including:

1. Monitoring soil moisture levels on areas planted to summer crops. Landholders considered that this was important to assist in gaining confidence of the correct time to spray out summer covers to limit impact on subsequent winter crops. Soil samples have been collected in February with further sampling planned for late March and April. Sites include:

  • Arno Bay - analysis of soil moisture levels on summer cover crops grown on calcareous soils. Comparison of cover sprayed in late January, and late February to early March. Also compare with a stubble with summer weeds controlled.
  • Wharminda – soil moisture of siliceous sands comparing a summer cover sprayed in late February, to an adjacent stubble paddock.
  • ​Kimba – two sites including a comparison of soil moisture on a mixed species pasture compared to a wheat stubble; and a transect across a dune system comparing soil moisture on the upper slope, mid-slope (no summer crop) and lower slope.

2. Site levelling of areas that have been subject to significant erosion.There are more than 400 hectares where the topsoil has been completely lost exposing compacted and infertile horizons. These sites at Arno Bay and Verran, will need levelling prior to reseeding and major interventions including ripping with inclusion plates and/or delving to develop a suitable seed bed.

3. Mixed species cover crops. Landholders are trialing these systems to assess if they can provide additional ground cover to monoculture systems. The site features include:

  • Sandy soils that have been subject to major erosion – a mixed species system will maximise the opportunity for ground cover by allowing species that have greater resistance to sand blasting and/or low fertility. Mixes will include a cereal, a pulse and a forage brassica.
  • Sandy loam soils that are less susceptible to erosion but have generally low cover levels. Sites include Elbow Hill and Kelly. Paddocks will be subdivided to develop rotational grazing systems with a range of mixed species planted. Mixtures will be monitored for soil cover and productivity.

4. Perennial pastures. Landholders are planning to plant the most erodible sites to veldt grass. Support will also be provided to assess soil moisture levels to determine the optimum time.

This project is supported by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, made possible by the regional landscape levy.

Brett Masters presenting at the workshop.  
Soil acidity workshops

As part of the Farming Acidic Soil Champions workshop series that we have run over the past three years, the first of a two-part workshop series was held in late February in the Lower Eyre and Cleve Hills areas.

These were great forums for the 15 attendees to discuss why they have issues and problems with low soil pH (acidic soils).

There were presentations from Brett Masters (PIRSA) and our Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer, Josh Telfer.

“The group had some good discussions about the implications for cropping and mixed farming systems, along with why soils become acidic,” Josh says.

“This included the role of management like fertiliser applications; and both identifying and ameliorating problem areas.

“Then there was a discussion about what is required to manage them into the future.

“Specific issues that were addressed included the signs and symptoms of acidic soils; the scope of the problem; the role of lime; the value of pH mapping and different mapping technologies; and the economic impacts of treatment versus non-treatment.”

The general feedback from the participants was that they understood the issues more; and now had greater confidence to deal with the issues as well as having added imperatives to do so.

The two groups are planning to meet up again in June to discuss the issues further, find out what they have discovered about acidity on their own land, and delve more into the costs and economics of acidic soil amelioration.

Carbon + Biodiversity pilot program

The Eyre Peninsula is one of six regions across Australia chosen to take part in the Australian Government’s Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot.

The program is trialling arrangements to reward farmers for improving on-farm biodiversity.

Under the pilot, farmers who plant native trees – in line with a biodiversity protocol developed by the Australian National University – will receive payments for biodiversity outcomes. These payments will be in addition to earnings a landholder might receive for their carbon abatement.

Applications to take part in the program open in April.

See the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website for more details.

Chris Lymn presenting at the expo.  
Livestock technology expo brings AgTech expertise to local producers

Wudinna hosted a Livestock Technology Expo in early March, with livestock producers from across the Eyre Peninsula gathering at the Wudinna Community Club to hear from experts on different precision livestock management technologies.

The free expo brought livestock technology experts and exhibitors directly to producers, as part of the South Australian Government’s Red Meat and Wool Growth Program.

Approximately 70 producers attended, with industry experts on hand to present the latest advice and answer questions, as well as tech suppliers demonstrating their products.

The line-up of expert speakers included:

  • Nathan Scott from Achieve Ag Solutions who spoke about electronic identification eartags (eID) and their use in commercial livestock enterprises.
  • Emily King and Henry White from Australian Wool Innovation who presented information about Smart Tags and shearing shed design.
  • Ben White from The Kondinin Group in WA, on animal handling equipment and sheep and cattle yard design.

The presentations also covered many important strategies for increasing productivity and labour efficiencies on-farm, and stimulated some great questions from the audience.

Local mixed farmer Chris Lymn also shared his experiences adopting eID in sheep on the Eyre Peninsula. Chris’s main message was that you can’t improve what you don’t measure, and that individual eID based measurements had been invaluable in improving fleece weights and reducing fibre diameter in their flock. However, Chris also emphasised the importance of balanced selection, and not losing sight of fertility and visual traits.

The Red Meat and Wool Growth Program is co-funded by Meat and Livestock Australia, Sheep Connect SA, Australian Wool Innovation and the SA Sheep and Cattle Industry Funds.

To find out more about how to get involved in the program, visit pir.sa.gov.au/redmeatandwool

Wind erosion help

Eyre Peninsula farmers are being asked to share their wind erosion experiences and thoughts.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), through Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF), are looking to farmers for their knowledge and experience with wind erosion, to help best understand, prevent, manage, and rehabilitate its impact within current farming systems.

Whatever stage of erosion you are facing, your expertise is crucial to help them discover practical solutions that are clear, accessible, relatable, and adaptable for growers.

They are asking EP farmers to take a couple minutes to complete the questionnaire. Most are multiple choice and strictly no long-winded answers required.

Summer seasonal summary for the Eyre Peninsula

Climatic conditions / events:

  • Thunderstorms from tropical weather systems delivered very much above average rainfall from Streaky Bay to Venus Bay and above average falls in the western parts of Eyre Peninsula. The eastern half had falls around the average.
  • Maximum daily temperatures were mostly around the average for January, apart from an area from Minnipa to Wirrulla and Streaky Bay where below average temperatures were observed. Minimum daily temperatures were around the average.
  • Lower Eyre while having not as much rainfall, has benefited from the mild conditions over summer, with fewer fires, and some regrowth providing some additional cover.
  • Some soil profiles have some deep soil moisture from December rain.

Land Management:

  • Summer weeds grew on soil moisture from December rainfall.
  • Many farmers sprayed weed growth but others on vulnerable sandy soils allowed the growth to improve surface cover for erosion protection.
  • Stubbles and summer weeds are providing moderate surface cover with soils in most districts adequately protected from erosion.
  • Snail numbers are generally low, and the amount of chaining, rolling and burning activities for snail control is expected to be less than normal. Farmers will use bait paddocks at sowing to minimise damage to emerging crops.
  • Many farmers in western and eastern Eyre districts are supplementary-feeding livestock either in paddocks or in containment feeding areas, to protect vulnerable soils from erosion.
  • Livestock are in generally good condition.

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

Open for feedback: draft Eyre Peninsula Regional Landscape Plan

A new Regional Landscape Plan for the management of Eyre Peninsula landscapes has been drafted and is now open for community consultation.

The draft Eyre Peninsula Regional Landscape Plan sets the vision and priorities for the region to achieve sustainable landscape management.

The plan focuses on the priority areas of water, sustainable agriculture, pest plants and animals, biodiversity and community, which were set out by the Minister for the Environment and Water when the landscape boards were established in July 2020.

Presiding Member of the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, Mark Whitfield, says the draft plan and supporting documents outline the region’s key landscape requirements and the programs that will deliver the aims of the priority areas.

“We are confident that our plan sets the direction for sustainable and resilient landscapes for our Eyre Peninsula region,” Mr Whitfield says.

“We live in a remarkable part of Australia with unique features that require careful management to maintain their viability well into the future, whether that be our farming land or the coastal saltmarsh areas that are home to threatened birds.”

The Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board region covers an area of 80,000 square kilometres. It extends from Whyalla in the east, along the Gawler Ranges in the north, to the edge of the Nullarbor Plain in the west.

We encourage the Eyre Peninsula community to look at the drafta documents, as detailed on our website; and then have your say by completing an online survey. Consultation is open until March 29.

More information

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.

For sustainable agriculture resources, visit our website. Topics include property planning, soil management, cropping & pastures, and grazing.

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


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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