NT Soil Symposium in Katherine

Region: Katherine Region | Topic: Horticulture
28 Sep 2020 | Danilo Guinto, Research Horticulturist

Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM) held the final leg of its Northern Territory (NT) Soil Symposiums at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre in Katherine on 5 March 2020.

More than 35 people attended the Katherine Soil Symposium with duplicate events being held in Alice Springs and Darwin.

Coordinated by Jacob Betros of Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM), the Soil Symposiums were a workshop focused on recognition of the importance of healthy soil in agricultural and natural ecosystems.  Topics such as soil carbon, biology, fertility, soil erosion, climate change, and current initiatives and activities being undertaken nationwide and in the NT to improve soil health and condition were covered.

The symposium speakers consisted of award winning and local speakers Rob Hinrichsen, AUSVEG Grower of the Year 2016,talked about his journey in adopting a number of industry-leading initiatives including a sophisticated composting program, controlled traffic farming, use of biologicals, integrated pest management, and cover cropping.

The audience viewing the major soil types of the Northern Territory

Picture 1: The audience viewing the major soil types of the Northern Territory

Colin Seis, 2014 Bob Hawke Landcare Award Winner, talked about the development of his ‘Pasture Cropping’ technique which has been adopted across Australia and internationally. The method contributes to building topsoil, reducing soil erosion, and provides great potential for restoring grasslands, increasing soil carbon levels, improving soil health and growing nutrient dense, healthy food.

Two local pastoral farmers, Moira Lanzarin from Mataranka and Karen McGrath from Katherine, graduates of TNRM’s 2019 Digging Deeper program, shared the learnings and insights they have gained from their training. They believe the key to soil health is the maintenance of ground cover to increase soil organic matter. This increases soil nutrients and water-holding capacity, and the role of cattle plays in nutrient cycling in pastures.

Other speakers at the symposium include Simon Goodhand who talked about the National Soils Strategy: Sue Bestow of the Office of the National Soils Advocate who talked about the Soils for Life program initiated by retired Major General Michael Jeffrey, Angela Hammond of Meat and Lamb Australia who encouraged the audience to get involved in their Profitable Grazing Systems program and Anika Molesworth from Far Western New South Wales, who helped organise Farmers for Climate Action to connect growers to researchers through her platform called Climate Wise Agriculture in order to build resilience into farming communities.

Jason Hill and Patrick Burly of the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) discussed accessing soil information for sustainable land use planning in the Katherine area.

One of the memorable highlights of the symposium was the audience viewing of the major soil types of the NT and the demonstration of how soil samples are collected using DEPWS's hydraulic soil sampling drill.

Patrick Burly of DENR demonstrating the use of their hydraulic soil sampling drill

Above: Patrick Burly of DENR demonstrating the use of their hydraulic soil sampling drill

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