Thursday, June 3, 2021

New Soils site aims to sell the great value of soil science for Australians

New sites that focus on current practical issues

now on google
now on Google 
Also on Facebook   @Conservationthatworks 
Also on Facebook @conservationthatworks 

Happy digging     John 

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Combating Ignorance in high places

The world is full of worriers  and unscientific and incompetent wannabes who would advise us . Take the coronavirus
I love the fact that a doctor and the AMA are finally taking a Minister to task .Lets hear from the senior chief medical health officer as well!!!!!!!
I really wish we ecologists had a Senior environmental Health Officer to stop polys opening their bigmouths so wide and so often
Modern leaders seem to think they know things and its their job to educate us , Rubbish, they know nothing about the complex matters of health care.
By using ads with simple catch ideas , they show their incompetence and perpetuate ignorance and simplicity , When I did microbiology at the best Uni in Australia we were taught NOT to wash hands too often and why . Disinfection was a site for reinfection with all sorts of new tenants that were often not better than the family ( ecol) we killed

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sodicity got us tricked . Who would have predicted the soup underneath .

While our  Savannah hill slope topsoils had some friability and stability,  little did our antecedents realize that the old  subsoil could be so unstable . Only sodium to hold the A2 horizon sand together . 
Our landscapes look and feel like concrete most of the time,  so it is  no wonder that  the subsoil  soup phase  ( A2 horizon )  is not easily seen.
Tragic for so many valleys where a drain might cut into that old layer and send the whole drainage line into meltdown, This gully on land south of Adelaide has  only a small catchment,  but the power of salt to start  the underground movement to start a rejuvenation cycle  is evident .

Are the rocks necessary ?

The usual problem is that during over grazing phases both sheet and rill erosion would have carried away the original topsoil in main drainage area .( isn't late winter spring a great time to sell grass?)

What would you do to fix it ? It looks to me that rocks seem to do little and create a nuisance.   IF , sown with lime , and well grazed this paddock will have a chance of being a useful if precarious piece of pasture.

Summary  : Rework , compact and resow with fertilizer but without rock
  Equipment : Small excavator to save topsoil , mixin  a bit of the B horizon especially and lime and compact .
Leave the trees ?   better to rework soils or leave them ? and plant new / standalone trees only where they make sense .
Not if the catchment is small .?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Small is beautiful

SCA modelled a great way to get things done   Joint Inspections they were called on the time sheet -
Because we were small , we could call meetings on site with the bigger players ( planning ag shire farmers neighbours , rivers etc)  .Lots of good/great  things happened as a result of those meetings.
"you worked for SCA " " what would you know " might be how others saw us . Tiny and spread out

If you long for a reminder of that wonderful class of characters who make the world go round  ( the people from the bush) , buy a copy of Dickens DVD .
The managerial class maybe growing,  but remember again that  class who on ground brought  more knowing. more fun more effective.  Enjoy  . 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Took ten years, but Barwon Water finally conceded

When we want things  we don't have ,  or think we don't have ( little  water recycling in Victoria during the last 1000 yr drought -2007 ) we (or our institutes and circumlocution offices ) can  be obstinate and in denial of the other options .
This case demonstrated the old SCA technique of bringing issues ( and bigger parties ) together on the ground.; demonstrating that not just one issue but integrated  aspects leading to a lack of resilience and threats to sustainability.
Short term gain risked long term pain 
  1.  The platypus habitat generated by spring flows in the Otways didn't need to be compromised as it was being  .
  2. A greatly increased bushfire risk generated by drying out peats 
  3. Profoundly poorer water quality and animal healthe risks 
  4. Constant vigilance required to prevent ground water pollution . Already stopped the regional tip from being located there 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sawdust trenches for reef protection

Landline recently told the story of trenches being funded to try and absorb nitrates from cropping areas near Proserpine. While the idea has merit,  the focus is very limited ,
Just another quick fix eroding the countries commitment to effective land use planning ?
 The dynamic of soil erosion sedimentation especially after a cyclone like Debbie has not been considered . Nitrates too can turn to other nasties even IF the trenches were made to be fully functional under the surface.
I was reminded with all this limited relearning of how  we planned to make quite profitable use of excess nitrogen in the Heytesbury - no subsidies required . Saw dust trenches for all sorts of other things .
Its just quite serious that its the political focus on the Great Barrier Reef that gets yet another bunch of world savers to fund some experimentation when farmers and local government need design with nature environmental engineers all over Australia .

Building resilience instead of wasteful reactions to disasters. This is a water control drop structure on one of Australia' s most productive dairy farms.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Are banks and waterways now obsolete in Australia's cropping areas?

Anyone who has witnessed rill and sheet erosion on  a cultivated paddock knows the damage can be severe.  Topsoils have been lost in  a large variety of soil specific slope situations in just one rainfall event  A lot of effort was put into designing and using banks and waterways in the early days of Soil Conservation services in Australia- even on very low slopes.( original post here was on the Charlton area )
Minimum tillage and improved management of weeds and soil structure has greatly limited the need for such works in many areas,   but should certain slopes still have some specific design structures ?( not those red soils again?)

Banks and waterways don't automatically stop sheet and rill erosion and  many of the early banks and waterways in the Charlton area  probably created higher erosion risks because they prevented a  full acceptance of the poor land capability.  We have learnt to resist some of these works to focus more on capability assessment , rejecting risky land use practices  and maintaining soil structure.
That great move aside -Are there still places where banks and waterways can be considered?
  • Contour buffer strips?  
  • Are they still being built anywhere in Australia ?
  • Banks protecting low slopes below steep high water shedding  hills?
  • Where soil types and are easily eroded ? (eg where loam topsoils are still in place)
  • Would high cereal prices push some farmers to use marginal lands again? 
  • Have we properly factored in the adverse effects of certain types of terrain  on the actual rainfall events and therefore estimated return periods  in some hill country ?( see previous posts)