Soil & Health Grazing Workshop

The Barossa Improved Grazing Group were excited to host internationally renowned soil ecologist Dr Christine Jones during her recent tour of South Australia. Christine presented to over 45 people at the Soil Health and Grazing Workshop held on the 1st of June at Stockwell.

Her presentation encouraged participants, who included graziers, croppers and vignerons to restore their soil by improving soil function using the liquid carbon pathway which centers around photosynthesis and the relationship with plant roots and microbes.

Christine encouraged farmers to sow multi species varieties, which create a mix of soil microbes that provide beneficial relationships. The plants also have different leaf shapes and maturity dates, which in turn creates further photosynthesis. The workshop allowed farmers to visit two different properties who have been trialing poly culture varieties.

Ian and Fiona Koch have been using polycultures for over eight years. They utilize mixes for break crops within their cropping program, combining different varieties such as beans, balansa clover, barley and radish.  They have also started trialling mixes such as canola and beans within their ‘cash crops’. Although this increases the seed cleaning costs, Ian and Fiona see the improvements to the soil and reduced chemical and fertilizer input to far outweigh this additional requirement.

The workshop also visited Tracy and Owen Bonython’s farm at Ebenezer, they have just planted their first mixed species annual pasture and hope to use it for their goats. Christine challenged the group to only graze half of the green leaf on the plants, which will in turn create 60% more total production in a growing season. Hopefully, once it rains, Tracy and Owen will be able to trial this within their pasture.

Thanks for Northern and Yorke Landscape Board through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund who supported this great day.

Soil Health and Grazing Workshop, June 2021- Dr Christine Jones demonstrating the liquid carbon pathway with roots in a sown annual pasture
Dr Christine Jones, Ian Koch, Georgie Keynes and Fiona Koch, looking at mixed species in Moculta, June 2021
Tracy and Owen Bonython with Dr Christine Jones looking at a pasture in Ebenezer, June 2021