Making More from Sheep Australian Wool Innovation Limited Meat & Livestock Australia
MODULE 6 : Healthy Soils
Procedure 6.4
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Most farms have some areas of problem soils associated with soil acidity, salinity, sodicity, waterlogging, compaction, or nonwetting sands. Recognising them is always the first step. If you can correctly identify the problem and its extent, you are well on the way towards implementing solutions. Once a problem area is identified, mark it on your farm plan.

Often the presence of indicator plant species can help to identify the problem (see tool 5.1 for indicators of saline land in Protect Your Farm’s Natural Assets)


At a Glance
Problem soils are likely to be associated with soil acidity, salinity, sodicity, waterlogging, compaction and hard pans, non-wetting sands or shallow soils

pt Know which of the soils on your farm have these problems and work towards implementing solutions

pt Ensure that solutions for problem soils make good economic sense

Key decisions, critical actions and benchmarks

Correct soil problems

Once a problem soil is identified, look for solutions that are feasible, practical and profitable. In some cases, there may be little or nothing that can be done for a problem soil, eg, shallow or stony soils and permanently waterlogged areas. In these cases, uses other than grazing (such as wetlands and biodiversity or conservation areas) may be a more practical option. Alternate uses need to be feasible and, if possible, profitable, and should be considered as part of your whole farm plan.

Use the questions below to work through the options in a generic sense.

1. Can the problem be fixed? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 4.

2. Is fixing the problem likely to be profitable within your current enterprise mix and is the return on an investment in this soil likely to be comparable to other investments you might make on or off the farm? If yes, take action. If no, go to 3.

3. Is the area small enough that you may want to ‘fix it up’ even if it is not very economic to do so (you may be seeking aesthetic or other benefits)? If so, take action. If not, go to 4.

4. If it cannot be fixed, or it is not profitable to do so, are there alternative land uses that are practical and profitable? If so, take action. If not, go to 5.

5. If it cannot be fixed, and there are no alternative land uses that seem profitable, are there alternative uses that can assist in meeting other farm objectives such as conservation or biodiversity enhancement?

Tool 6.5 contains detailed information, assistance with diagnoses and management suggestions for a range of soil problems – acidity, sodicity, salinity, waterlogging, compaction and nonwetting sands.