Wheat

Check if soil acidity affects productivity

Wednesday 20 May, 2020
Testing soil pH helps farmers determine if soil acidity is affecting their pasture productivity.

Soil acidity, measured as pH, impacts the availability and toxicity of other nutrients,” Goulburn Broken CMA’s Rhiannon Sandford said. 

“Soil acidity varies across the Goulburn Broken Catchment because it is dependent on soil forming factors such as parent material, age of the soil, rainfall and biological processes. 

“Most soils in the hilly or higher rainfall regions of the Goulburn Broken and to the south of the catchment are naturally highly acidic. That is, they have low pH.  Agriculture can contribute to accelerating soil acidification through the removal of agricultural produce, fertiliser selection and nitrate leaching.”  

In highly acidic soils toxicities from soluble aluminium can occur as do deficiencies in other nutrients.   

Aluminium stunts plant root growth making plants less able to forage for nutrients and water,” Ms Sandford said.  

Established perennial pastures may be able to withstand this effect, however they will be less productive as soil acidity also affects the function of soil biological processes, for example nitrogen fixation by clover, and availability of other nutrients.  

Through its From the Ground Up project, the Goulburn Broken CMA has been working with Agriculture Victoria to deliver soil acidity workshops around the catchment. These workshops give an understanding of the agricultural processes that influence soil acidity and teach participants how to measure, monitor and manage soil acidity.  

Workshops will become available to land managers in the Goulburn Broken hopefully towards the end of this year. Farmers are encouraged to register their interest in future workshops or to seek more information from reception@gbcma.vic.gov.au 

The From the Ground Up project is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.