[ASC-media] FARMERS WAGE WAR IN THE PITS: Local Farmer Group Network Media Release

Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Thu May 4 14:17:25 EST 2006



Farmer groups are fighting back to protect their most valuable asset, the
land, but before growers can wage their war, they need to know what they are


They therefore sought intelligence through a series of workshops that
identified salinity, poor subsoil structure and acidity as the most common
constraints reducing crop growth, limiting productivity and hindering WA's
$3 billion grain industry.


The Managing Hostile Subsoils team, Bob Gilkes, Tania Liaghati and Daniel
Evans, all of the University of Western Australia (UWA), joined forces with
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) researchers and the Local Farmer
Group Network (LFGN) to run the Soils in Depth workshop series.


They visited 15 WA grower groups, with 300 growers, 70 agribusiness
personnel and DAFWA researchers attending.


Professor Gilkes said major constraints affecting productivity included
salinity in the Esperance region, subsoil acidity in the northern wheatbelt
and alkalinity and poor subsoil structure in the central wheatbelt, which
resulted in discussions on deep placement of gypsum and rooting depth.


"The soil pits allowed for a thorough investigation of soil structure,
texture, pH, salt levels and root growth in the profile and helped explain
the impact of soil properties on root growth and water holding capacity," he


While the 2005 workshops highlighted the extent of subsoil constraints
across WA, the 2006 series promises more. Funded by the Grains Research and
Development Corporation and based at UWA, LFGN helped locate and co-ordinate
105 soil pits in cropping paddocks with variable productivity.


Dr Liaghati said crop rooting depth was of major interest and ranged from 20
cm in shallow duplex soils, to more than 200 cm in 'earthy' sand.


"Various techniques were used to investigate the pits, ranging from a
universal pH indicator spray to growers visually examining root growth," she


Due to the success of the 2005 workshops, the Managing Hostile Subsoils team
were invited to investigate several sites in the high rainfall zone, near


LFGN Co-ordinator, Paul Carmody said many farmer groups unable to
participate last year have booked for workshops planned for this August. He
invited other interested groups to contact him, Mob 0427 997 878, or visit
the LFGN website, www.lfgn.org.au and download a subsoils workshop
expression of interest form.

HYPERLINK "http://www.lfgn.org.au/"www.lfgn.org.au

Authorised by LFGN and issued on its behalf by Brendon Cant & Associates,
Tel 08 9384 1122

Media Contact: Paul Carmody, LFGN Co-ordinator, Mob 0427 997 878

Lisa Mayer, LFGN Administration Officer, Tel 08 6488 7937






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