Wondering how your soil is standing up to the pressure? Just released is a new computer program that can predict changes in soil organic carbon levels for different crop and pasture rotations, and stubble management.
Soil Carbon Manager, an interactive package in CD-ROM format, builds on the earlier SOCRATES model developed by CRC for Soil and Land Management scientists.
By entering basic information including soil and climate details, users will be able to see, graphically or in tabular form, predictions of total carbon broken down into five categories for various farming rotations, nitrogen fertiliser use and stubble management practices:
- decomposable plant material
- resistant plant material (resistant to decomposition)
- soil microbes
- humus (stable organic material), and
- inert carbon or charcoal.
Mark Seeliger of the CRC for Soil and Land Management said soil organic carbon measurements had been promoted as indicators of soil health and sustainability.
"Organic matter is the 'glue' binding soil together for stable soil structure. It's also an important reserve of nutrients for plants and soil micro-organisms and provides the energy driver for biological activity," he said.
"The problem is that soil organic matter levels change slowly over time — also the common soil analysis measurement is insensitive to small changes and does not indicate the amount of soil organic carbon in each category of the total carbon 'pool'.
"Soil Carbon Manager does and it also calculates an annual carbon balance in the soil for a given period of years, up to 1,000 years."
Mr Seeliger said Soil Carbon Manager came with extensive Help files and four tutorials for the user to better understand the effects of soil factors and management practices on soil carbon status.
Cost: $45 or, for a multiple-user licence, $200. For details see coupon below.
Programs 3.5.2 Contact: Mr Mark Seeliger 08 8303 8670