The University of Western Australia offers free soil tests to farmers with the problem of water-repellent soils. They test not only the problem soil, but also clays from the same farm, because their research shows that some local clays can correct the non-wetting sands.
Farmers will receive a full report, and researchers will use the information to prepare a do-it-yourself kit which farmers can use to test their own clays.
Research trials are showing that the right clay on water-repellent soils can increase crop yields by up to 40 per cent in the first year and more than 80 per cent in the second year. Early indications show 100 tonnes of clay per hectare could increase profits by at least 100 per cent after recovering the cost of application.
Growers can test for water repellency by scraping away the litter and placing a few drops of water on the soil. If it takes longer than one minute for the water to penetrate the surface, the soil is repellent.
Researcher Evonne Richmond can advise on how to prepare samples and where to send them.
Contact: Miss Evonne Richmond 09 380 2503