119 farms later – what was learnt when farmers dug deeper

Farmers Digging Deeper 3people-Peter 2000px
Farmers Digging Deeper 3people-Peter 2000px

Farmers Digging Deeper: soil carbon & soil pH – what was learnt after sampling 119 farms


Visit Western Port Catchment Landcare NetworkDr Peter Fisher, the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption & Innovation Hub Soil Co-ordinator, was in Warragul today hearing what the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network’s (WPCLN’s) Peter Ronalds, had found after sampling 119 farms.

Over the past year, the WPCLN’s Sustainable Agriculture Manager has taken more than 550 soil carbon samples, 230 soil chemistry samples and 115 soil biology samples from 119 farms throughout the western Gippsland region as part of the ‘Farmers Digging Deeper’ project.

Farmers Digging Deeper Peter Ronalds presenting cropped
WPCLN’s Sustainable Agriculture Manager Peter Ronalds delivering results about the 119 farms sampled.

Alongside Peter Ronalds at the workshop was well-known sustainable ag scientist Chris Alenson, who spoke about soil pH and calcium, and highlighted key findings from the 119 farms participating in ‘Farmers Digging Deeper’.

At the workshop, Western Port Catchment and Latrobe Catchment Landcare Networks delivered the results to landholders, sharing:

  • soil carbon results from 39 farms, first sampled in 2012, and then resampled in 2023 using the same methodology and locations to ascertain whether these farmers saw increased soil-carbon levels over the past decade
  • soil carbon results from 85 farms with sampling taken along 50m transect lines
  • soil pH results from 230 samples from more than 115 farms
  • information on why soil pH is so important in sustainable and productive agriculture

Farmers Digging Deeper 3people-Peter cropped
Vic Hub’s Soil Co-ordinator, Dr Peter Fisher (right), was in Warragul hearing what the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network’s Peter Ronalds, had found after sampling 119 farms. He’s pictured here talking to beef farmer Robert Green from Tonimbuk (left) and Robert Tracy from Waratah Bay Beef at Yanakie.

About ‘Farmers Digging Deeper’

‘Farmers Digging Deeper’ is supporting 315 farmers across the region to increase their knowledge of soil health and to better understand the links between soil health, farm productivity and profitability. The project also helps farmers develop management pathways to actively improve their farms soil health and condition.

Running until April 2024, it’s facilitated by the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network, with key partners including Bass Coast Landcare Network, Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network, Mornington Peninsula Shire, South Gippsland Landcare Network & Melbourne Water. The project is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.


Help shape the future of soil

Soil QR code knowledge gaps surveyWhile you’re thinking about soil, have you participated in the national gaps analysis survey?

Vic Hub’s Dr Peter Fisher is urging all Victorian who care about soil to participate.

Peter said soils were important in sustaining healthy food production and for protecting the environment and biodiversity.

“But the pressure to improve soil health – while aiming for net zero emissions to minimise impacts on climate change – requires developing and adopting better soil-management practices.

He’s keen to see a strong Victorian representation in the nation-wide survey of soil issues and knowledge gaps in our state, as well as RD&E opportunities for improved soil management.

The multi-choice questionnaire, which only takes about 20 minutes to complete, has been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) National Landcare Program.

Access the soil survey by scanning the QR code or via this link: https://tinyurl.com/soilgaps