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Farmers turn to soil basics in Te Hoiere


Following a popular soil workshop in Linkwater organised by Heather Collins and sponsored by Agrisea, Marlborough District Council and NZ Landcare Trust teamed up with Te Hoiere Project in early May to bring two more similar workshops to Rai Valley and Kaituna.

Thank you to the Morrison, Gane and Shearer families for hosting these three workshops held earlier this year in Te Hoiere catchment. The half-day workshops introduced farmers to their soils, discussing how soil fits into and is connected to the surrounding landscape. Attendees learned how easy it is to look for simple features to help diagnose soil problems and introduce new ways of thinking that can help us look after soil better. Following these workshops, some farmers in the catchment are already experimenting with new cover crops.

Farmer and Agrisea consultant Nick Collins was on-hand for the workshops to share his farming journey with soil health, and Matt Oliver from Marlborough District Council was on hand to provide some of the more technical detail around Marlborough soils as well as discuss soil test results.

Nick provided farmers a simple acronym to help guide the talks: mindset, minerals, microbes, management and multi-species.

  • Mindset - farmers learning from experts and each other. This helps to build confidence ahead of making any to changes in practice
  • Minerals - using fertilisers appropriately to build soil quality and improve development of soil structure; soils with balanced nutrition can grow more resilient plants and fed microbes more effectively
  • Microbes - focus on feeding soil biology naturally using plant roots. Deeper well-nourished roots in well-structured soil feed more microbes that, in turn, exchange more nutrients and water with their plant companions
  • Management - careful grazing, timed well to allow sufficient plant recovery; this allows plants to build rooting depth, feed microbes more effectively and build resilience
  • Multi-species - planting a variety of plants with differing rooting depths and growth habits; each serves an ecological niche that can help build resilience in the soil and plant system

If you’re interested in hosting a soil workshop anywhere in Marlborough, contact Wendy Sullivan at NZ Landcare Trust to arrange a day. Matt can come out and take some free soil tests beforehand, as well as dig pits to discuss with the group. Attendees can look at the paddock with the poorest performance, discuss solutions and then contrast it with other soils on the farm.

Contact: Wendy Sullivan
027 247 3503

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