Rangeland Living Skin Artwork Competition

Artwork competition for kids in the NSW Rangelands!

Rangeland Living Skin is a new project in the NSW Rangelands linking scientists and farming families.

The expansive wide-open spaces of Australia’s rangelands make up a large part of our continent. ‘Rangeland Living Skin’ is a new project led by NSW Department of Primary Industries and supported by Meat and Livestock Australia, recognising the importance of productivity and resilience in our rangelands. Collaborating with scientists and farming families, the project will focus on soil, plants, animals and people as the living skin of the rangelands.

To celebrate the launch of this project, we are inviting primary school students in the Western LLS Region to enter the Rangelands Living Skin Artwork Competition and create an artwork that represents the work of the project over the next four years. There are some exciting prizes to be won!

To find out what’s involved and how your school can enter, download the form below.

Climate and Carbon in Agriculture 2020 Conference


The Climate and Carbon in Agriculture 2020 Conference program is now complete with over 70 speakers to take part.

The two-day conference, to be held at Adelaide Convention Centre on 31 March to 1 April, features expert speakers at the forefront of thinking around carbon and climate in agriculture. Speakers include climate experts and forward thinking producers who will outline, from a grass roots level, how they’ve managed to keep their farming and business practices at the cutting edge to adapt to climate risk.

The speaker program provides the opportunity for discussion on the challenge of managing for a variable climate, which has been recently been amply illustrated by bushfires and extreme weather in Australia. In light of these recent conditions, CRSPI has moved to reduce registration costs for farmers attending the conference to $440. 

Anyone with an interest in how agriculture will survive, and thrive, in a changing climate are encouraged to attend the Conference and take advantage of the discounted rate. For full program CLICK HERE

Writers at the Woolshed – Earth Canvas


Earth Canvas is about linking writers and readers with regenerative farmers to create a better future. It is an opportunity for writers and readers to experience an ecological cattle farm on the Southwest Slopes of Southern NSW. Be inspired by the Murray Valley landscape and ecosystems working on Bibbaringa by enjoying a weekend of author presentations and a day of specialised workshops with world renowned writers.


Regenerate 2020


Regenerate 2020 is a five-day conference featuring two of the world’s leading educators, performing at their peak.  Discover how you can regenerate your land resources through a practical and theoretical immersive. This is essential training for food producers seeking a more profitable, productive and regenerative approach. Guaranteed to give you new insights and tools.

More information here

Rural Aid to Benefit from Residential Soil Testing

eNose – Developing Tools to Monitor Soil Biology

 Western Australian not-for-profit organisation, The Ground Files Inc, is currently supporting Rural Aid by donating $10 for every residential soil test conducted. 

Soil testing is the only way to fully understand the needs of our gardens. Plant tissue testing also provides information about what is in the food we grow and consume. 

Executive Director, Bronnie Kemp said, ‘Hundreds of tonnes of nutrients leach into our river systems each year as a result of the over fertilisation of residential gardens. 

Precisely managing soil and plant intake of nutrients minimises leaching, produces strong and resilient growth and reduces the need for herbicides and pesticides.’ 

Other benefits include saving water and money, by only applying the nutrients that plants require. 

It’s a simple process and soil samples can be posted. 

Soil testing costs $189 and vouchers are available at www.soils.org.au 

Contact Bronnie Kemp 0499 776 626 b.kemp@soils.org.au 

‘eNose’ Tool Workshop and Milgadara Tour


eNose – Developing Tools to Monitor Soil Biology

As part of the Soil CRC’s research program (soilcrc.com.au), a team at the University of Tasmania is working with Soils for Life and other grower groups to develop a simple and easy to use device which will monitor the activity of soil microbial communities. This device, popularly referred to as an eNose (or electronic nose), can detect many different compounds at the same time. It will measure something similar to an “aroma fingerprint”. In much the same way that a person can detect the many different compounds that make up the smell of “coffee” without identifying particular compounds, the eNose will be developed to recognise different biological communities based on the chemicals they are producing. In the future, it is hoped that growers will be able to use this information to help make decisions on how best to manage their soils to be healthier, more productive and more resilient.

Why is soil biology important?

Soil biological communities are a vital part of the soil ecosystem providing the ecosystem services that allow soil to continue to be productive. When we think about biological communities in the soil, we firstly think about larger organisms such as earthworms that are often easy to see when digging up dirt. Worms, mites and fungi that we can see are also important, but there are many thousands of smaller organisms such as single-celled protozoa and algae in the soil. Smaller again are bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in the soil and on and in plant roots. Together with the physical aggregates that make up soil particles and the nutrients and water, they form a complex soil system.

The physical, chemical and biological components of the soil system are very closely linked. The physical structure and chemical nutrients (including water) influence what lives in soil, and the soil organisms change the structure and the organic and chemical components of the soil. These interactions are important for plant growth because plant roots interact with the physical, chemical and biological components of the soil. People are also important in this system. What we do to soil affects the biological communities which, in turn, affects the soil structure and nutrient availability and therefore plant growth.

This microscopic world is fascinating. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to study not only because it is so small but also because there are so many thousands of different organisms. It is now possible to sequence DNA from soil to see what lives in that particular soil by looking for “signature” or “marker” DNA sequences. Over the last twenty or so years we have discovered that the soil contains a vast and very diverse array of microorganisms, but we still don’t know what many of them do!

Rather than simply looking to see which microorganisms are in the soil, another way of studying them is to measure what they are doing. People have often heard of the “bury your undies” test for microbial activity  which requires leaving a sample of cotton buried in the soil for several weeks. Another example is measuring how much carbon dioxide is produced to estimate the total soil respiration or how much the soil is breathing. There are many other gases and volatile compounds produced in the soil that people often instinctively take notice of. The fresh earthy smell that you find when digging into soil is geosmin, a compound produced by a specific group of bacteria. The sharp rotten egg smell that can sometimes be detected in water-logged soils is due to sulfides. Sulfides are produced by another group of bacteria that only grow where there is no oxygen. All the living organisms in the soil are constantly releasing complex compounds into the soil, as part of their normal metabolism, to send signals to other organisms, to help them find nutrients and to attack or defend themselves. Perhaps if we were to measure these compounds, we would get an overall picture of biological activity and how this relates to the overall status of the soil. This would provide us with a faster way of assessing what the soil organisms are doing.

Have your say! Join our workshop near Young, NSW to tell us what’s important to you.

Experts in soil science and technology from the University of Tasmania and the Soil CRC will be joining Bill and Rhonda Daly, leading regenerative farmers from “Milgadara”, to talk about more support for building healthier, more resilient and productive soils.

We’ll be doing a paddock tour and running a workshop to get your input on the design of the “eNose” – a tool to help farmers monitor soil biology.

Book here at eventbrite