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Exploring soil acidity in the Upper South East

 

MFMG, PIRSA Rural Solutions and Natural Resources South East have recently completed a project that explored the presence and severity of acidity across the Upper SE. Eighteen paddocks with different land uses were examined in the project, with a particular emphasis on assessing the extent of acidity on previously clay spread and/or delved sandy soils.

 

Acid soils are generally defined as having a pHCa of 5.5 or less. When the soil pH falls below 5.0, the productivity and health of crops and pastures starts to decline, toxic amounts of aluminium can be released into the soil solution, microbial activity deteriorates and nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and molybdenum become less available.

 

Key findings of the project were:  

  • 15 of the 18 paddocks examined in the study contained zones of soil with pH below 5.5
  • Sandy loam and clay soils used for cropping were acidic
  • Shallow sandy soils, clay spread and/or delved, used predominately for cropping were acidic
  • Deep sandy soils that have been clay spread and used for grazing were acidic
  • Shallow sandy soils that have been clay spread or delved and have clay within 30-40 cm of the surface and primarily used for grazing were neutral to alkaline, but often contain discreet zones of acidity
  • Lime needs to be applied now to combat acidification.
  •  

Farmers in this region are encouraged to measure soil pH across their farms and to implement a lime application program to combat the damaging effects of acidity.

 

See the full project report click here

 

Contact Melissa.fraser@sa.gov.au for more information.

This project was funded by The National Landcare Programme, Sustainable Agriculture small grants.