Holding it Together

Soils for sustainable vegetable production

Healthy soils form the basis of profitable and sustainable cropping systems. What can growers do to ensure their soils remain in great condition and provide the essential services a crop needs?

The Holding it Together project set out to support growers as they looked at practical strategies to ensure their greatest asset remained in top shape for the years ahead.

Grower groups discuss traffic practices at a field day
Grower group discusses traffic practices at a field day

Following meetings with key stakeholders the project team settled on four focus areas related to soils:

1. Surface runoff

Soils with poor infiltration and water holding capacity contribute to runoff and ponding damage in all crops. Ensuring the soil is in well conditioned to soak up water is essential if these losses are to be minimised.

2. Soil Compaction

Compacted soils make for less profitable and more input-hungry cropping systems. They require additional working to break down condensed aggregates, result in poor and variable crop establishment and reduce the size of the soil ‘bucket’ – all of which limit crop returns.

 3. Cultivation practices

The effect of regular cultivation on soils is often pronounced. With every pass organic matter is lost, and so to, the ability of the soil to sustain great crops. In many cases cultivation is necessary to remove an existing soil constraint (like compaction). Remove sources of compaction and the need for the heavy cultivation is reduced.

4. Green crops

Growing green crops remains a great option to help build soil health. But picking the right crop, managing it well and getting it back in the ground are all key steps that determine the final value in the practice.

Fact sheets from Holding it Together Click Here>

Project Management and Contacts Click Here>

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