Soil : Protecting our future

Soil is a critical resource for almost all primary production. Natural characteristics such as water-holding capacity, soil nutrients and structure, and biological activity all contribute to the success of a growing or farming operation. Soil movement within or off a paddock can cause losses in productivity and profitability. This makes retaining soil, and its inherent characteristics, critical to the business of farming.

Erosion and sediment control

At Agrilink, we’ve developed specialist skills in soil erosion and sediment control for cultivated production. We consult to councils, industry bodies, the Environment Court, and individual grower companies on erosion and sediment management advice.

In collaboration with many of these groups, we have helped develop a suite of tools and management practices to minimise soil erosion. Our Good Management Practices publication Erosion & Sediment Control Guidelines for Vegetable Production builds on an earlier Best Management Practices guideline on Minimising Erosion on Cultivated Land, and on the publications we put together for the Franklin Sustainability Project.

Minimising erosion and sediment loss involves four key steps:

  1. Knowing your paddock – undertaking a paddock assessment.
  2. Measures to stop or control water entering your paddock
  3. Erosion-control measures
  4. Sediment-control measures.

Each of these steps is a progression. Naturally, it’s easier to control water entering a paddock than it is to manage sediment-laden storm water leaving the paddock.

Getting this wrong has far-reaching consequences. Not only does it impact the profitability of the business losing the soil, but it also affects the entire community as this sediment pollutes our waterways and suffocates aquatic life.

Getting it right involves a thorough assessment of the property. These control measures can be costly to implement – although failing to do so will cost far more in lost soil resource – so they require careful planning and a staged development. A documented Erosion and Sediment Control Plan is essential.

Sediment control is about protecting the environment. Agrilink can help growers implement in-paddock control measures to minimise soil movement. These include interception drains, benched headlands, wheel-track ripping and cover crops. By the time soil reaches a sediment trap it is extremely degraded. Keeping soil from leaving the paddock can be achieved through raised access ways, earth bunds and correctly sized sediment traps with decanting devices.

Being good stewards of our land is a business profitability issue.