Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Soil health
5 HEALTHY SOILS GROUND COVER SOIL KNOWLEDGE manuals, information on biological farming and low- input farming for soil health. Other fact sheets of interest with a more regional flavour include 'Tropical forage crops' and 'Water use and herbage growth'. Some topics are still under scientific investigation, and every effort has been made to present credible information that is evidence-based. Where not supported by scientific evidence, the authors have tried to present an unbiased view of the potential benefits and limitations of relatively new or untested approaches. The resources can be used by individual farmers and advisers while facilitators or local farmer groups can use them to put a package of information together to support healthy soils workshops for their region and/or community. Many of these resources have relevance for use in agricultural courses in schools and further education. □ Significant contributions were made to the development of this site by the senior editorial panel -- Professor Robert White, Dr Phil Price, Peter Wiley and Professor Bob Gilkes -- in reviewing the content prepared by Dr Frances Hoyle. Contributions have also been made by regional projects involved in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Healthy Soils for Sustainable Farms Program, managed by Land & Water Australia. The regional projects were led by the University of Western Australia, the Department of Agriculture and Food, WA, the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (formerly the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries), the Victorian DPI, Queensland University of Technology, NSW DPI, Cotton CRC, AusVeg, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, Biological Farmers of Australia, the Mid-Loddon Sub-catchment Management Group and Dairy Australia. More information: www.soilhealthknowledge.com.au -- this website will be live from 23 June 2009 To enter the site, read and accept the disclaimer. What is healthy soil? This section discusses and presents the top six characteristics of healthy soil (see page 6) and provides links to information that explains these characteristics in more detail. Top tips for healthy soil is a good place to start for farmers who want to assess or change their soil- management practices. This section discusses the top 10 habits of 'healthy soil' farmers and provides links to the information required to adopt these practices (see page 9). Help diagnose my soil is a simple diagnostic tree that uses both soil information and photos to investigate possible soil constraints to crop production. Profiting through soil provides a number of simple tools such as a carbon calculator to investigate possible changes in soil carbon, and a water-use calculator tool, which allows growers to benchmark their water-use efficiency by paddock and seasons. There are also links to case studies. External links have been provided to useful websites. Information for soil health could be considered the heart of the site. This section presents a generic overview on the current state of knowledge on soil, analysis and testing properties and specific soil- management approaches. It integrates information for the reader into a number of modules that discuss soil properties, how to recognise soil constraints and effective management of problem soils. These modules also provide a search engine where users are able to search a limited database of sites for more specific information. There is also a glossary of terms. Case studies provides a selection from 15 categories to access soil-related case studies on how other growers have approached the management of healthy soils. Examples of categories include greenhouse gas emissions and soil water. (See page 8.) Resource material produced as part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Farms Program is located here. This includes fact sheets and workshop material. A healthy soil is productive and easy to manage under the intended land use. It has chemical, biological and physical properties that promote the health of plants, animals and humans and contributes to profitable farming systems and growing regional economies.
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