Case Studies

New Horizons

The New Horizons program aims to improve poor quality soils and increase broad acre crops and pasture production.

New Horizons is a South Australian government funded program to:
•    capture an additional $800 million in agricultural production per annum in South Australia
•    support development of a new high value manufacturing industry in agricultural machinery
•    increase long-term storage of soil carbon
•    significantly reduce soil erosion risk.

The challenge

Analysis conducted for New Horizons suggests that up to 40% (4.1 million hectares) of the broadacre farming area of South Australia has soil constraints that could be overcome through   advances in soil science management.

South Australian farmers have told us they need assurance and reliability of results before they take on new practices. They need confidence in the techniques and a guarantee of improved yields before they invest in the soil modification techniques needed to achieve the targeted increase in productivity.

The solution

The New Horizons trial sites are designed to better understand which modification techniques can most effectively improve productivity on local soils.. These include low fertility, poor structured, sandy soils and sodic clay sub-soils which are hostile to plant growth.

There is  evidence from recent advances in soil science that such limitations can be addressed by making modifications to the top 50 cm of soil.

The outcome

Some of the trial sites were hit hard with the seasonal conditions. Some sites were water-logged and others were extremely dry, and some had visits from kangaroos. Despite a number of excellent responses, there is some variability  between treatments and sites across the state.

The farmer survey we conducted indicated a clear desire for reliability and surety in advice, therefore further evaluation is required before advice on optimal techniques can be confidently provided to farmers.

“As part of the State Government’s Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment priority, the program seeks to understand soil constraints that limit productivity… the adoption of these new practices would represent a new revolution in farm management”

Brett Bartel, Program Director New Horizons

 
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