Agronomy

Integrating soil health practices into a commercial vegetable farming operation

Vegetable growers in Australia mainly use conventional cultivation methods, including rotary hoes and disc ploughing, which are expensive and damaging to soils. Improving soil health through the use of organic composts, biofumigant cover crops, legumes and minimum tillage can increase productivity, and reduce costs and disease.

DSC01095Why study this?

This project aims to investigate the impact of sustainable practices on the profitability and disease severity of commercial leafy vegetable production in western NSW. Industry will benefit from the findings and subsequent communication on how to address key issues in soil sustainability.

What was done

Permanent beds, controlled traffic and minimum tillage trials have been running on Mulyan farms in Cowra since 2009. After just one year, the soil in these blocks was less compacted, had higher microbial activity and was in better physical condition than comparable soils cultivated conventionally. Improvements accelerated as the trial progressed.

What we found

Trials on nitrification inhibitors showed promising results on increasing yield in processing lettuce. The project established a range of cover crops, which were the focus of a field day in spring 2014.

Resources

Video: Reduced till in vegetable production WHY? 

Winter Cover Crops Fact sheet

Biofumigation Fact sheet

Quick guide to farm nitrogen

Soil Wealth Cowra

The final report for VG12115 is available here

For more information contact
Dr Gordon Rogers, Applied Horticultural Research Pty Ltd
gordon@ahr.com.au

VG12115