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In 2011 Brenton Byerlee, Managing Director of Soil Management Systems, was asked to conduct trials for the South West Goulburn Landcare Group on Paul Flemings property at Broadford, Victoria. Paul runs a beef cattle operation in high rainfall undulating country in the Goulburn River Catchment area. The desire of the members of the group was to better understand their soils and improve the health and productivity of the soils and pasture. The Trial was conducted over four years with funding from the Landcare Group in a commercial beef enterprise with comparison against the normal practices. There were Field Days held in September of each year with the object of learning about their soils and understanding what makes a healthy soil.
The trials were conducted on two very different soil types on the property; a light silty loam and a heavy black basalt clay. Comprehen-sive Soil Test were taken of each area and the first field day was spent in the field doing visual assessments of the soils and then discussing the soil test results. In subsequent years the field days concentrated more on understanding the soils and monitoring the results and responses to the recommended applications. Dry matter yield measurements each year were independently carried out by the independent agronomists. A question that was asked of Brenton Byerlee at the beginning of the trial, “by how much do you think we can increase carrying capacity over what we have been doing?” The answer; “you will double it”. The reaction understandably was of some disbelief, however based on the visual soil assessment and chemical soil test it was clear to Brenton substantial responses would be achieved by following the rec-ommendations over the next several years.
Brenton’s emphasis is on the three facets of soils; Chemical, Physical and Biological all of which are interdepend-ent to one another. In simple terms, changes to one effects the others. By focusing on Balancing Soil Cations and Nutrients in Balance, then the Soil Physical condition or Structure will create an environment to enhance active Biological activity in all its forms. Feeding the Soil rather than the plant and treating the soil as a living environment rather than the traditional approaches produces Healthy Soils, Healthy Plants and Livestock and thus Healthy People.
Products used according to soil type and recommendations were Lime, Gypsum, Dolomite, Soil Management Systems Guano and Ammonium Sulphate and Trace Elements. The applications were generally applied in the Autumn over the four year period. Once the appli-cations were completed then only maintenance of Guano and Ammonium Sulphate need to be applied. By avoiding chemical fertilisers such as Urea and also other chemical sprays, then the soil will need minimum input as the Biologicals are able to mineralise and release nutrients into an available form to the plant.
After four years the results speak for themselves
Winter Production Measurements (Average kg/ha/day DM)