Healthy Farming Futures participant Kevin with Project Officer Sally Fields.

It was a sold-out event with over 50 attendees at our first soil workshop of the year under our Healthy Farming Futures program for 2018/2019, delivered by Northern Gulf, as a member of the NQ NRM alliance.

Facilitated and organised by our Intensive Agricultural Officer Sally Fields, the jam-packed day held out at Skybury Coffee Plantation in Mareeba saw a line-up of great speakers.

Attendees heard about topics across a broad range of subjects from carbon cycle, Mycorrhizal Fungi, balancing soil, carbon farming, the soil food web, farming with climate change, advantages of micro feeding, soil nutrition, and the importance of record keeping was highlighted.

Analysing a soil sample

Speakers included local agronomy consulting guru Peter Masasso; Michelle Green, Cairns based microbiologist/agronomist; Lisa Price, Tablelands biodynamic farmer and soil food web microscope educator, and Professor Stephen Turton, climatologist from CQU.

Guy Webb’s documentary “Grassroots” was screened (available free to view on the Australian science channel) and Guy was then “zoomed in” from central NSW for a presentation, with a Q&A session after his talk. Technology was on our side, and this remote session went smoothly and was received enthusiastically by the audience going by the questions that followed!.

Attendees watching Guy Webb’s documentary “Grassroots”

Unfortunately, with the heavy rain the night before guest speaker and 2018 Charlie Natasi horticultural farmer of the year winner Peter Inderbitzin was unable to make it.

In his absence Peter had this message for the participants,

“We are banana farmers from Lakeland and we have been using compost for 10 years. We apply 6 tonne to the hectare, 4 times per year and have been able to reduce our chemical fertiliser by 60%.

This is a lot as bananas seem to grow, the more fertiliser the merrier. How we arrived at 60% less fertiliser was by working out the NPK content of the compost and by putting on the same in the form of compost. Being ball park figures of Nitrogen 1.5%, Phosphorus 0.5% and Potassium 0.75%. We all know that putting compost out is going to be good for the soil.

Organic matter, which is humus has got to be good. But I had to go to an organic conference in Brisbane to find out that the best kept secret is that for every 1.6% rise in organic matter means 1% rise in organic carbon. Which means that now we can store an extra 140,000l of water per hectare. This of course means less nutrient and sediment run off”.

“Out of the 33 people who completed the feedback survey at the end of the workshop day, 100% responded that the workshop has helped to influence the farmers to implement changes to improve soil health in their own current farming practices. Everyone said they fully enjoyed the day and would attend another soil health event, which is a great outcome.” said Sally Fields.

Our next Northern Gulf Soil Health event is on Thursday the 30th of May, to be held in conjunction with the 2019 Mareeba Rotary Field Day. Hope to see you there!

This project is supported by North Queensland NRM Alliance through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. This project is delivered by Northern Gulf Resource Management Group as a partner of North Queensland NRM Alliance.

Published with StoryChief


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