Outcomes from South Australia’s successful New Horizons soil modification program will help frame a new Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) research investment to investigate the management of sandy soils across three states.
Three years of results from the original New Horizons program, which was managed by Primary Industries and Regions SA and revealed the best soil modification treatments can increase crop yields by 70 to 180% on sandy soils, will now be factored into the new project.
The three original New Horizons trial sites on the Eyre Peninsula and in the Murray Mallee and South East will continue as part of the GRDC project.
PIRSA will continue to undertake research as part of a new five-year collaboration with the GRDC, CSIRO, the University of South Australia, Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc. and Agrow Agronomy.
The new industry-led research project will identify ‘problem sands’ and constraints to crop growth and yields, and investigate cost-effective solutions to increasing production on these soils, in southern New South Wales, Victoria and SA.
In addition to the new sandy soils project, PIRSA’s wider soils research and extension portfolio, which looks at issues such as sodicity, acidity and building soil carbon, will now become part of an expanded New Horizons soil improvement program.
PIRSA’s New Horizons program will be undertaken and delivered in collaboration with a number of new industry-driven partnerships with the GRDC, the CRC for High Performance Soils, farming system groups and other delivery partners across the state.
The South Australian government invested $852,000 in 2013/14 for the establishment phase of the New Horizons program and committed a further $1.1 million over the next two years (2014/15 and 2015/16).
PIRSA initially developed the New Horizons initiative to investigate ways to overcome constraints in poorly performing sandy soils.
Information regarding the results of the original New Horizons program that ran from 2013 to 2016 is available at pir.sa.gov.au/newhorizons
Quotes attributable to Rural Solutions SA Executive Director Daniel Casement
The New Horizons program identified potential to add an additional $800 million in agricultural production per annum in South Australia alone by improving soils with production constraints.
It’s fantastic that the research partners have been able to build on the State Government’s investment in the New Horizons program and incorporate the existing trial sites into the sandy soils research project to better understand how long the benefits last.
This new partnership with GRDC is the first step in an exciting next phase for PIRSA’s expanded New Horizons soil improvement program.
The continued research trials and new partnerships across the wider spectrum of soil constraints impacting agriculture will help to broaden the research findings and build stronger collaboration and connection with industry across the country.
Quotes attributable to GRDC General Manager - South Stephen Loss
The encouraging results from the New Horizons experiments were instrumental in the business case for the new project. Treatments such as the incorporation of organic matter and clay have transformed the fertility of sandy soils and their ability to retain moisture and nutrients.
This form of collaboration between a wide range of partners and grower groups across three states will mean techniques developed through projects such as these are more likely to be adopted at the farm level to improve productivity as well as soil fertility.
The new collaboration will identify the most cost-effective strategies to overcome constraints on sandy soils and test the longevity of treatments, enabling farmers to adopt techniques that improve soil fertility, crop productivity and long-term profits.