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The Soil Health Challenge

A national challenge to monitor soil health on Australian farms

Is your soil health getting better or worse?  What can you do on the farm to track progress?  To find out, take the Soil Health Challenge and join farmers around Australia in a free 12 month program with Soils for Life!

This program will equip you with a simple system to monitor your soil health over time, allowing you to measure the success of your management changes.

We’re partnering with Soil Land Food to provide you with guidance for doing five easy, low cost, on-farm tests. Share your results in a private group to gain insights and learn from other farmers, with input from the Soils for Life team.

We know that when farmers are joined in a community with other like-minded farmers, they come away with more insights than they expected.  

Are you ready to take the challenge? The next monitoring fortnight starts on 11 March.

Join the challenge!

Limited offer for Croppers!

As part of the Soil Health Challenge, Soils for Life is offering a limited number of Australian croppers two years free access to the Soilmentor app. This is a great opportunity for croppers to track and better understand their soil health in a group learning project.

Apply now

Some of the participants

Richard Daugherty

Richard sees soil as the foundation on which everything above it is built and thus the cornerstone that anchors every farm.  He also believes that establishing and supporting performance indicators – which are important for any enterprise – through peer mentoring, can really pivot a mindset and transform a business.

Farm facts

  • Farm Balala Station
  • Location Northern Tablelands NSW
  • Enterprises Self replacing merino flock , cow calf operation
  • Property Size 1250 ha
  • Soils Trap, loams, light granite

Shane Joyce

Shane is regenerative agriculture workshop facilitator covering topics such as Biodynamics, Syntropic Agroforestry and Natural Sequence Farming; he is always on the lookout for effective tools and systems to help people measure and monitor what they are doing.  He’s also keen to implement a monitoring system for his own use and in demonstrations at workshops and open days.

Farm facts

  • Farm  Dukes plain (now farming elsewhere)
  • Location Kilkivan QLD
  • Enterprises Education, beef cattle, accommodation, consulting, mentoring, internships, facilitation
  • Property Size 141 ha
  • Soils Volcanic based soils from heavy black on the bottoms to lighter red/brown ridges

Martin Royds

Martin believes that you need to measure and monitor to know if you are really improving.  He’s joining the challenge to prove to himself he’s improving the soil and ecological health of his farm.

Farm facts

  • Farm Jillamatong
  • Location Braidwood, Southern Tablelands NSW 
  • Enterprises Beef cattle, eggs, guardian dogs, native grass seeds, timber.
  • Property Size 430 ha
  • Soils Granite based, with the work done to increase the biodiversity of plants Martin is expecting soil biodiversity to also be improving.

Grant Sims

Grant is convinced that when making changes you need to be able to measure so you can quantify whether you are heading in the right direction.  He would like to identify areas on the farm that are priorities for  improvement.

Farm facts

  • Farm Down Under Covers
  • Location Pine Grove, Eucha, VIC
  • Enterprises Cropping, beef cattle, occasional trade lambs, multispecies seed mixes
  • Property Size 3500 ha
  • Soils Red and brown clays

What is the challenge?

Three monitoring fortnights spread over 12 months.

The challenge involves assessing your soil health during three monitoring fortnights over a 12 month period (October 2023, March 2024 and October 2024), using five simple soil assessments. The next monitoring fortnight begins 11 March 2024. For each monitoring fortnight you will join other farmers in taking the following steps:

Do five tests

Follow our simple guides and carry out five soil health assessments in at least one spot on your farm. It should take less than an afternoon.

Take photos

As you do the assessments, take pictures with your phone to record the results.

Share & discuss 

Share the pictures and your observations in a private Facebook group to get feedback from other farmers and the Soils for Life team.

Join a webinar

After each challenge fortnight we will run a webinar with David Hardwick from Soil Land Food to discuss results and answer questions.

Five simple assessments

These five observation-based soil health assessments have been designed to be fast and easy for farmers to do in the field, and to generate measurements you can track over time.

Most of the equipment you need for the soil health assessments can be found in the shed! We will provide a written guide for each method and a webinar showing how to do it.

  • Photopoints

  • Groundcover

  • Soil Infiltration

  • Aggregate Stability

  • Soil Organisms

Learn from other farmers

After completing the application form we’ll invite you to our private Facebook group.  This is where you can post your photos, observations and questions about your soil health.

You’ll get feedback from other farmers and have a chance to return the favour and share what you notice in others’ photos and results. The group will be a positive and encouraging space with support from the Soils for Life team.

This program will not be collecting soil data from farmers, but is designed to support farmers to collect and understand their own soil data and observations.

Take the challenge!

Join the challenge for a chance to win one of 10 copies of My Father and Other Animals. 

Join the challenge

More information

For any further queries or more information about the challenge get in touch at [email protected]

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