Kangaroo Island’s soils are core assets that make a fundamental contribution to the region’s environmental, economic and social prosperity. They underpin most of the Island’s primary industries. However many Island soils have some level of physical, chemical or biological limitation resulting in restrictions to plant and root growth and root functions. Some of the main root zone limitations include compaction and hard pan development below the cultivation layer and sub soils with high strength sodic layers, low pH, low water conductivity, low nutrient contents and aluminum toxicities. These soil limitations result in less than optimal water use by crops and pastures and contribute to a range of soil degradation issues; including soil erosion, soil acidity, soil structure decline and compaction, nutritional deficiencies, soil toxicities, water repellence, salinity and water logging.
Work is being undertaken to investigate, trial and demonstrate appropriate, practical and cost-effective soil modifications and amelioration treatments. This treatments focus on physical (structural changes, deep tillage, drainage) and chemical (gypsum, lime and nutrients at depth) properties. Field days are conducted to demonstrate the results to the community and guidelines for practical root zone modifications and management technologies are being developed.
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Lyn Dohle, Senior Soil and Land Management Consultant, Rural Solutions of SA, ph: (08) 8553 4949