Two events are being held in Tasmania’s north west next month to help local producers build their farm’s resilience in times of increasing climate uncertainty.
The “Across the Paddock” events are being delivered by Cradle Coast NRM with support from the TAS Farm Innovation Hub through funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.
Project Coordinator Ben Correy (pictured below, left, with Jake Pearce from Simplot) said the events would focus on cover crops as a measure to build healthy, productive and climate-resilient soils.
“One very cost effective and environmentally sustainable strategy for vegetable producers is to plant cover crops in rotation between cash crops,” Mr Correy said.
“As their name suggests, cover crops are planted to cover the soil and help to protect it from damaging impacts like heavy rainfall and strong winds that can lead to topsoil loss and erosion.
“Another obvious benefit is their ability to shade and protect the soil during periods of prolonged dryness. This increases the soil’s water holding capacity, helping to retain water within the soil profile longer.”
Cover crops are established before planting the next cash crop and their presence ensures that the soil is not subjected to periods of bare fallow (a diverse mix of species works well – see photo, below).
They are sometimes called “green manures” because they also increase organic matter, recycle nutrients back into the soil, reduce weeds and build soil structure. By including legumes (nitrogen fixers) in the mix, they also increase nitrogen availability for subsequent crops, helping to improve soil fertility and enhance productivity (a legume with nitrogen fixing nodules is shown in the main image, top).
TAS Farm Innovation Hub Director Sandra Knowles said cover crops were one tool in the resilience toolbox and were increasing in popularity across Tasmania.
“It is great to see the hub and Cradle Coast NRM partner with Simplot and support five in-field demonstrations with a group of potato growers across the north west coast,” Ms Knowles said.
“Each farm has used a slightly different way of establishing their cover crops so it will be interesting to hear more about the lessons learned at the upcoming “Across the Paddock” events.”
Attendees will also hear from farm managers about their practical experiences with a mix of cover crop species and a number of guest speakers who have studied the benefits of cover crops.
The first event will be held at Redbank Farm at Sisters Creek on Tuesday 15 August. The second will be held at Kindred on Thursday 17 August, both start at 11.00am. There is no charge to attend, and a light lunch will be included. Please register by contacting Ben Correy on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0474 325 192.
The TAS Farm Innovation Hub is one of eight hubs nationally funded through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund. The hub is based at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) at the University of Tasmania and delivered through an extensive network of industry and community partners.