GRDC Soils Extension Project

GRDC Soils Extension Project

Extension of best practice principles for identifying and managing soil limitations in southern and central NSW

This GRDC project has been developed by FarmLink and NSW DPI and Farming System Groups (CWFS, Riverine Plains, IREC, Southern Growers, Harden Landcare Network, ICC and Holbrook Landcare) to deliver a range of soils extension material and activities throughout southern and central NSW over 20 months commencing September 2019.

Key project outcomes are split between extension resources and an extension workshop series.
NSW DPI will develop the range of extension resources, including one-page technical sheets, four-page topic summaries (to be compiled into a Soil Limitations Resource book) and multimedia material (videos and podcasts). Topics that will be covered include:
• Characterising common soil types present in Southern NSW and Central NSW.
• Identifying soil limitations: soil acidity, sodicity, dispersive, compacted, poorly structured soils, chemical or nutrient deficiencies/toxicity, hard pans/compaction, poor water infiltration, susceptibility to water logging, hostile subsoils or difficult duplex soil types.
• Understanding and measuring the water holding capacity and plant availability of soil water by soil type.
• Impacts of soil type and soil constraints on crop choice, crop/pasture rotations and tillage regime.
• Interaction between Carbon and Nitrogen in cropping systems
• Understanding the impact soil constraints have on plant growth. Using plants as an indicator of potential soil limitations including but not limited to rooting depth, leaf symptoms of common constraints, deficiencies or toxicities.
• Common soil ameliorants, including lime and gypsum and the impact of particle size, product type, application rates, methods and timing, interaction with cultivation and movement in soil.
• Use of new and emerging ameliorants (to be developed if sufficient information is ready for extension).
• Crop yield and profit benefits from addressing soil limitations.

CWFS held its Soil Pit workshop on 30 September at Tottenham with Dr Jason Condon, CSU Wagga and Helen McMillan, CWFS leading discussion.   A good number of local growers attended the day with the focus on simple tactics to help diagnose soil constraints.  Looking at the different layers of soil types and root growth from a soil pit is always interesting and a very tangible exercise in understanding moisture and nutrient constraints.  CWFS would also like to thank Russell and Paul Adam for kindly offering their wheat paddock for the event.  For more information, please contact Helen McMillan at CWFS email

CWFS Soil Pit at Tottenham with local growers and in foreground, Dr Jason Condon, CSU Wagga and Helen McMillan, CWFS Trials Agronomist

CWFS Trials Agronomist, Helen McMillan with Dr Jason Condon, CSU Wagga

Local growers with CWFS Helen McMillan and Dr Jason Condon inspecting soil layers