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.
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
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.
Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) were developed through an inclusive process within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP). They aim to be a reference providing general technical and policy recommendations on sustainable soil management (SSM) for a wide range of committed stakeholders.
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.
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
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.