Managing Soils

​​​​​​​Whether you have your property for lifestyle or for productive and commercial enterprises, management of the soils on your property is a very important consideration. Good soils support good plant growth and pasture production, in turn underpinning the health of livestock. 
 
Good soil condition and fertility are basic to sustainable agriculture and contribute to the health of your property. An ideal soil should be well-drained, have a deep rooting zone, be easily penetrated by air, water, and roots, have a good water-holding capacity, have a balanced nutrient supply, and resist erosion. 
 
Soil erosion, soil structural decline and organic matter decline under cropping have been recognised as the major soil management problems for the State.
 
A number of resources have been selected to help you in understanding the soils on your property and and how to manage them, mitigating degradation and hopefully improving them over time.

What type of soil do I have​?

Understanding the soils on your property will help you decide the best management practices. 
 
Soils Maps of Tasmania​ on the Department's web site is a resource to help you identify your soil type. Maps are available from Service Tasmania or there are links available on the web page to electronic versions of these maps.

​How do I manage my soil type? ​

Land and Soil Resource Assessment provides information on the various surveys undertaken in Tasmania. This information enables informed land use planning decision making and sustainable management of these resources and includes information on Land Capability and Soil Condition.
 
The book Soils Alive!, Understanding and Managing Soil Biology on Tasmanian Farms provides guidance with regard to management practices that support healthy soil ecosystem function. A copy of this book in pdf format is available on the web page.

Soil structure and management​

Soil structure ​provides information on cropping soils, deep ripping, drainage and Kraznozem (Ferrosol) topsoil structure.

​Soil organic matter​

Organic matter is widely regarded as a vital component of a healthy soil. It is an important part of the soil's physical, chemical and biological fertility.​  Soil Organic Matter provides information on how to manage and increase organic matter in your soils.

​​Acid sulfate soils

​Acid Sulfate Soils​ (ASS) underlie parts of Tasmania's coastline and some inland locations. They are natural soils that contain sulfides (mostly iron sulfides) and can cause significant problems if disturbed or exposed, so they require specific consideration in management practices.​

​​​Land drainage

Drains are important for carrying excess water off agricultural land and are essential in establishing good productive land.​​  There are various types of drainage systems.  Information on land drainage and what happens when you drain you land​ and other issues in available on the Land Drainage webpage.

​Soil er​​osion

Follow the link for information on the extent, types and control of soil erosion​ in Tasmania.

Control of soil erosion

Soil pH and liming

Soil pH, or soil reaction, affects the solubility of minerals or nutrients essential for plant growth. Learning the variation in pH in soils on your property will help you in your management decisions.

As soil acidity increases (the lower the pH), more lime is needed. You will have to add more lime to clay soils and peaty soils than you will to sandy soils to achieve the same result because different soil types react in different ways to the application of lime.

The Soil pH and Liming​ web page describes what pH means, measuring pH, types of liming materials and other related matters.

​Soil sampling

Regular sampling of soils on your property can help you in monitoring the changes occurring through your management practises. The Soil Sampling​ area provides instructions on the correct procedure for collecting soil samples to ensure consistent and reliable results.

Irrigation

It is important to improve irrigation management​ in order to increase production, reduce the cost of production, reduce pests and diseases, optimise the use of a scarce resource and reduce impacts on the environment. typMore careful use of water is necessary to ensure optimum use of the available water supplies.​

Understanding salinity

​Salinity is the presence of salts in soil and water.  In sufficient quantity these salts may be detrimental to plants and animals.  Some of the issues concerned with salinity in ground water and irrigation are discussed on the Salinity and Land Degradation​ web page.

Soil publications

​Good soil condition and fertility are basic to sustainable agriculture. The information provided in the publications below provide a set of recommended best practice guides for a range of soil management issues to sustain crop and pasture production and maintain soil in good condition.

Soil Management guidelines and publications

Stubble management

Stubble manag​ement options include burning, physically removing stubble, or retaining it in the paddock.  The advantages and disadvantages are discussed on the Stubble Management page.

Useful contacts for helping you manage your soils

NRM North
03 6333 7777
admin@nrmnorth.org.au

Cradle Coast NRM
03 6433 8400
admin@cradlecoast.com

NRM South
03 6221 6111
admin@nrmsouth.org.au

Contact

AgriGrowth Tasmania
Phone: 03 6165 3225
Email: AGT.Admin@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

Land Management Enquiries
171 Westbury Road
PROSPECT TAS 7250
Phone: 03 61654401
Email: LandManagement.Enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

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