Mapping saves dollars in soil management

Mapping saves dollars in soil management

Cropping
Variable rate gypsum application has allowed the Wilksch Ag business to cut input costs.

Variable rate gypsum application has allowed the Wilksch Ag business to cut input costs.

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Soil mapping has saved a South Australian cropping business thousands in input costs.

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GYPSUM and lime are both key inputs in the Wilksch Ag cropping rotation, in particular when growing canola and pulse crops.

High density and time consuming to cart and then to apply, the cost and time taken to spread the soil conditioners can quickly add up, which is why the family enterprise makes sure it has done the research on which areas need either input.

“We do all our gypsum and lime on variable rate,” Randall Wilksch said.

“There are massive variations in soil type over the property, with soil pH (CaCl2) varying from 4 to 9.

“Obviously there is not too much point putting lime out on the soil testing 9 so we have got a detailed pH map of the farm.”

He said using the pH data in conjunction with other soil mapping such as EM 38 and gamma radiometric imaging, along with soil core samples, allowed the business to come up with a variable rate program.

The results speak for themselves.

“This year, we bought enough lime for what we thought would be our normal spreading program.

“Using the mapping we were able to tailor application according to soil type and we ended up with enough to spread an extra 100 hectares- there are some big savings to be made.”

“The mapping and variable rate applications really pay for themselves when you see savings like that.”

Mr Wilksch said generally a continuous cropping program and high fertiliser rates acidified the soil, so the soil conditioners played a valuable role in neutralising the pH.

“We have been using gypsum for a long time as an ameliorant and we’ve really got into using lime over the past three years due to research in our area conducted by Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA).”

He said he was interested in looking at any work being done on improving soil quality during his upcoming trip to Europe as a Syngenta Growth Awards winner.

“It will be interesting to see if they are doing anything different and whether it could have any application here.”

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