Scaddan workshop to delve into soil constraints

Author: Melissa Williams | Date: 30 Jan 2015

Image of David Hall and Nigel Metz

It is the International Year of Soils (IYS) this year and southern WA growers have an opportunity to talk to some of Australia’s leading specialists in the field at a one-off Soils Masterclass workshop next month.

This unique event will be held at the Campbell family’s property near Scaddan on February 12 and registrations are now open.

While growers recognise there are many opportunities to improve their soil’s physical, chemical and biological components for sustainable future crop and pasture production, often some guidance is needed to work out the technical feasibility and cost effectiveness of doing so.

To help address this challenge, the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Esperance port zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network (RCSN) group has identified key issues and questions about soil fertility and soil health that impact specifically on growers on the south coast of WA.

The group developed the Soils Masterclass workshop sessions for growers and other industry players to have an opportunity to ask these questions of top researchers working in the field, many of whom are based in WA.

The workshop has been organised in conjunction with the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA) and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA).

Presenters on the day will cover topics including:

  • Improving light soil types with tactics such as delving and claying (David Hall, DAFWA)
  • Implementing and integrating machinery for controlled traffic farming (CTF) (James Hagan, DAFWA, Andrew Newall, NewAg Consulting, Nigel Metz, SEPWA, and Quenten Knight, PAA)
  • Targeted acidity management (Yvette Oliver, CSIRO)
  • Value of chemical soil tests and nutrient budgeting (Bill Bowden, consultant)
  • Soil acidity management on the south coast (Chris Gazey and Liam Ryan, DAFWA)
  • Economics of a range of nitrogen sources (Jeremy Lemon, DAFWA)
  • Building soil carbon and its value (Dan Murphy, UWA, and Fran Hoyle, DAFWA).

During the Soils Masterclass workshop, growers and others interested in learning about how to make the most from their soils can spend time in small group discussions - or ‘Masterclasses’ - with these acknowledged soils experts.

After the Masterclass sessions, growers can visit soil pits and composting sites and will be able to see a range of other tactics being used by the Campbell family to help improve fertility on their property.

One-on-one free expert consultations will also be available for growers seeking more information about matching machinery for setting up a controlled traffic farming (CTF) system or fine-tuning existing CTF systems on their own property.

GRDC western RCSN coordinator Julianne Hill said the Soils Masterclass workshop provided a unique opportunity for WA growers to access soil specialists in one location and discuss management options for a wide range of soil fertility issues affecting their bottom line.

She said soil health was a major priority investment area for the GRDC and its western region RCSN groups had identified soil constraints and soil fertility as one of the top ranking production issues for growers right across WA.

“Giving growers the confidence to predict the severity and extent of these problems and assessing the tactics to help address them is important in a climate of tight margins driven by changing weather patterns and costs versus returns,” she said.

Across WA, a range of soil constraints – including subsoil acidity, compaction, water repellence, nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, sodicity, waterlogging and alkalinity and transient salinity – cost millions of dollars in lost production each year.

And it is recognised that soil constraints rarely exist in isolation, but interact – adding to the complexity of finding solutions.

To help meet this challenge, the GRDC is investing with other research agencies into a $33 million, five-year Soil Constraints – West initiative to develop and deliver practical management solutions.


Caption: Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia’s David Hall, left, and South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA)’s Nigel Metz will discuss soil constraints and use of controlled traffic farming at the Scaddan Soils Masterclass event on February 12.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Julianne Hill, RCSN
0447 261 607


Melissa Williams, Cox Inall Communications
042 888 4414

Useful resources

Soils Masterclass details: Location is David and Linda Campbell’s property, Grigg Road, Scaddan (near Gibson), February 12, 8.45am to 5pm.

Soils Masterclass online registrations:

GRDC Soil Constraints West initiative:

GRDC Project Code DAW00236; DAW00242; DAW00243; DAW00244

Region West