Farmers Connect EP

May 2022

EP regenerative ag updates

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

This newsletter provides a summary of local sustainable 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.

Exploring multi-species options

A workshop to find out more about multi-species pastures is being held at Yallunda Flat in June.

We held a multi-species cover crop workshop in Streaky Bay during March. It was an opportunity for local farmers to discuss what sort of strategies they are using to add value into their farming systems, but also discuss practical things like seed species mixes and sowing rates. 

The Western Eyre region has challenging soils and climate, particularly for innovative practices such as multi-species pastures and cover crops; and so the facilitated discussion amongst practitioners and other interested landholders was valuable.

A similar event is being held at Yallunda Flat on June 21, where local practitioners or interested landholders can come and share their ideas and questions, with scope to hear from the experience in the room and elsewhere about challenges, solutions and practical ‘how-to’ on using multi-species cover crops and pastures.

Workshop details: June 21, 9:30am to 12:45pm finishing with a light lunch. Please RSVP by June 20 to Josh Telfer, or 0460 000 290 or at

Identifying and managing Mallee seeps

A Mallee seep discharge site near Kimba, with puccinellia and lucerne surrounding the seep in attempt to utilise excess water and keep cover on the soil to reduce evaporation and subsequent salinisation of the soil surface.

Mallee seeps are a direct result of excess water passing through sandy rises and collecting as perched water tables on less permeable clay layers beneath, causing land degradation.

They have become more prominent in recent years as modern farming systems control deep-rooted perennial summer weeds on surrounding sandy catchment areas that contribute to the recharge water into the perched water tables where the seeps/scalds form. Our Mallee seeps project has been trialling how seeps can be managed on Eyre Peninsula.

Wet periods and high summer rainfall events strongly impact the initial seep development, while the extended dry periods increase capillary rise and evaporation that concentrate salinity in the surface layers. 

Why do seeps need to be managed?
Seep areas can initially experience high crop growth, but can become saturated, yellow, and soon dominated by ryegrass and a hazard to heavy machinery. They may start off with fresh water, but in time concentrate high levels of salt in the surface layers, resulting in bare saline scalds patching out across a farmer’s most productive land. If left unmanaged, these areas can expand to many hectares of severe land degradation within a few years.

The longer this goes on, the greater the limitations become on ability to restore the land back to its previous productivity. This is why early identification and action are vital, particularly after the wet summer that much of the EP has experienced.

What do farmers need to look out for during seeding?
Farmers should take notice of any areas showing signs of water collection or that are unusually soft to drive through, particularly below sandy catchment areas and through paddock swales. With wet to saturated soil, it is initially hard to determine whether this will just result in patches of extraordinary crop but dry out over the season, or whether a prolonged perched water table is forming that could cause massive degradation in the future. 

How can farmers determine the best course of action?
Take note and keep monitoring these sites through the season. For these new developing sites there are practical actions that can be employed straight after harvest that could prove vital to achieving positive outcomes, such as targeted summer cropping to provide living soil cover and use up excess moisture over summer and autumn.

The aim of all Mallee seep management is to get living soil cover over affected soil areas, and to stop the flow of recharge water into these zones by using targeted high water use options.  There are numerous ways of achieving this that need to be matched to the farmer’s specific circumstances.

There are two good ways for EP farmers to find answers to their Mallee seep issues.

  1. Visit the recently released Mallee Seeps Decision Tree on the MSF website which is an interactive guide with lots of short farmer demonstration videos (including some from EP), that show practical solutions to the full range of Mallee seep situations.
  2. Come to the Managing Mallee seeps – turning your Mallee seeps around workshop to practically work through the steps of how you can assess and strategically manage your own Mallee seeps to stop their spread and bring them back to production. This is being held at Rudall on June 15. Register today.

Find out more about our Mallee seeps project or watch our YouTube videos about managing and identifying seeps or a creek-line salinity.

Soil acidity - where are we at in 2022?

As part of our Regenerative Agriculture Program, there has been ongoing support for long-term monitoring of soil acidity in conjunction with the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA.

In the past five to eight years there has been a profound uptake of lime spreading across EP. This monitoring survey will be a chance to keep gathering data of how pH and related toxic aluminium have progressed considering increasing acidifying nitrogen inputs.

Surveying soil acidity also gives context to the pH mapping that is occurring, because while that is good for gauging change across a paddock, it neither gives change over time nor change in depth, which is what the monitoring program can shed light on.

Often lime incorporation with tillage is not prioritised, and therefore doesn’t address the problem of increasing acidity at depth. More fine depth sampling when collecting soil samples into the future allows us to see that while lime is present in the surface, if sampling 0-10cm for example, it often gives a higher pH reading than if it was broken into finer increments. Read more and see our figures showing our monitoring results.

Grazing clinic: how to get the most out of your land

A grazing clinic will be held for Eyre Peninsula landholders in July.

We’re excited to present a RCS Grazing Clinic which is a practical hands-on workshop that develops your skills as a grazing manager. This power-packed two and a half-day clinic will give you the confidence and practical know-how to go home and begin implementing. The clinic covers the principles and practices of grazing management including how to design and manage a grazing cell, and how to use grazing charts as a planning and decision-making tool.

The course has a complete focus on implementation, dealing with “real-life stuff” that actually counts when it comes to getting the most out of your land, livestock and business.

During the clinic, facilitator Nic Kentish will cover:

  • assessing rest period and calculating graze period;
  • matching your stocking rate to carrying capacity;
  • how to use grazing charts to plan and make confident decisions;
  • the six principles of regenerative grazing management; and
  • property design, water design, and fence planning.

There will also be plent of opportunities for Q&A.

We have highly subsidised this event to reduce the cost for Eyre Peninsula farmers. It will be held on July 5-7 (location TBD). More details or to register.

EP seasonal conditions

March-April 2022 rainfall across the Eyre Peninsula.

Following the trend of the last 12 months, Eyre Peninsula has generally had very good agricultural cover levels compared to historic levels. There were some reasonable rainfall events across the region, but a special mention to the folks out in parts of the Far West who have the greenest area on the map (above) and having one of the earliest starts to a cropping season for quite some time. While there has not been widespread rain, stored summer water, combined with some autumn rainfall has seen seeding progress across the region, with many areas close to finishing seeding.

The southern, eastern and central districts of Eyre Peninsula received rainfalls around the average for April. Rainfall increased to above average north of a line from Elliston to Darke Peake to Moonabie and were very much above average around Buckleboo and Ceduna to Penong. May was not particularly very wet (up to mid-May), so there is risk of a longer period of low cover if not all areas of the EP received recent follow-up rain. 

Due to water erosion damage mitigation work carried out in flood effect areas, more aggressive remedial tillage might lead to a bigger exposure window, but thus far this hasn’t been observed. This might however, develop more into a problem into June/July if water stresses leads to poor crop growth and cover, and there is an uptick of weather systems that bring high winds.

Generally the region is in good shape, but as everyone one knows we are going into what is always the make or break part of the season, but let’s plan on looking after our country the best we can.

Pest monitoring resources

The vista of the Eyre Peninsula agricultural landscape is starting to come alive with emerging crops and with this comes a plethora of insects – both friends and foes. We would like to share some helpful resources to help navigate invertebrate issues that you may encounter in the 2022 winter season.

SARDI's PestFacts newsletter is a great way to keep up to date with what is happening throughout the State and what insects to look out for at different times of the season. They provide grain growers and advisors with the latest information on invertebrate pest activity and management during the winter growing season. The newsletter offers solutions, warnings, and reminders for a range of invertebrate pests of all broadacre crops including cereal, oilseeds, pulses, and fodder crops. The PestFacts newsletter is produced on an as-needed basis and the subscription is free. The PestFacts service is funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). Subscribe to the newsletter.

The Insects of Southern Australian Broadacre Farming Systems Identification Manual and Education Resource Manual (I SPY) is a comprehensive resource manual for farmers and advisers covering basic taxonomy, important insect groups and identification keys, and descriptions of common species, as well as information on monitoring, integrated pest management principles, and biosecurity.
Read the online version.

GRDC also has a range of quick easy to read Back Pocket Guides available online which include but are not limited to:

They can be found on the GRDC website under Resources and publications.

It is important that you monitor your emerging and established crops throughout the season and take note of control and economic thresholds. For more information around management and control please contact your local advisor.

Useful (and free) subscriptions

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The Fast Break and The Very Fast Break
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AIR EP newsletter
Agricultural events and information specific to Eyre Peninsula farmers. Subscribe for the weekly newsletter.

Soils Community of Practice newsletter (Vic)
You will receive regular newsletters containing news items, events and announcements that are of interest to our broad soils community. Even though this group is based in Victoria, we find it contains information that is relevant across the ag sector.

Eyre Peninsula Landscape news 
This is the Board's quarterly update on work that is happening across the region including sustainable agriculture, water management, biodiversity and pest control activities. Subscribe here.

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