Case Study | FARMING

Tygalgah Pasture Management

Context

SoiLife was engaged to assist with pasture management at a Dairy Farm in Tygalgah, NSW. The farmer had concerns over the patchy nature of his paddocks and the lack of clover available to his cattle. Initial work on the farm was to improve soil carbon over a two year trial in conjunction with the Tweed Shire Council. This farm visit by confirmed the patchy nature of the paddocks, and the lack of clover, as well as weed species encroaching into the paddocks (thistles and fireweed).

The farm had a long history of utilising synthetic fertilisers and herbicides to control weed species. The farmer had personally observed with persistent use of these fertilisers and chemicals a disappearance in his clover cover and a reduction in the soil quality.

Plants species

Mixed Pasture 

Soil type:

Clay Loam

Location

Tweed Shire

Challenge

SoiLife faced a soil that was compacted and weed encroachment into the paddocks was taking hold. At first the challenge was to build soil carbon and structure and then moved on to become growing a strong healthy pasture that supported the health of the dairy cows.

Compacted soils following chemical fertiliser use

No clover growth, no root depth

Weed encroachment from poor soil structure

Goals

  1. 1.  The Farmer had four main goals
  2. 2. Increase the growth of clover and pasture improvement to feed cattle
  3. 3. Reduce compaction across the farm and improve drainage
  4. 4. Improve the structure and fertility of the soil
  5. 5. Build soil carbon levels

SoiLife Results

SoiLife treated the Farm over seven years. Over these seven years a dramatic improvement was seen in the soil structure, pH, pasture plant composition, and the health of the cattle. At the seven year mark the soil and pasture had improved so dramatically that no further treatments were required.

Year 1

Carbon farming

30L to 1ha with SoiLife Microbes

Year 2

Carbon farming

Year 2 + Visual Difference

Year 3

Soil improvements

1000L to 20 acres with SoiLife Microbes

Year 4

Weeds declining

Year 3 + 200L Kelp

Year 5

Abundant clover

1000L to 20 acres with SoiLife Microbes

Year 6

Clover takes off

1000L to 20 acres with SoiLife Microbes

Year 7

Optimal condition

1000L to 20 acres with SoiLife Microbes

Before

Patchy cover - no clover - compacted soil

After SoiLife Treatment

Improved cover, abundant clover, soil structure

After the first two treatments in the trial, I was seeing clover come up for the first time in years. Now we’re spraying microbes on our paddocks, we’ve improved and the soil it’s getting better and better all the time.

Pat McDonald , Dairy Farmer
Tyagarah , NSW

Penetrometer has no resistance = no compaction and great soil structure

Clover growth achieved across the farm

The soil was tested for compaction with a penetrometer throughout the treatment period and reduced compaction was observed across the treated areas. This reduction of the compaction layer led to better water holding and water movement through the soil profile reducing pugging. Additionally, reduced compaction allowed deeper root penetration on the pasture grasses, leading to healthier pasture and healthy cows producing more milk.

The Dairy was able to increase its holding capacity of cattle and stop using fertiliser. Soil carbon improved and was observed through the improvement of the structure and root depth of the pasture grasses. An increase in soil carbon was measured below a meter.

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