Building resilient soils in the Riverina region of NSW

Australia is home to ancient soils that are prone to erosion and usually have low levels of nutrients and organic matter. The effective management of our delicate soil is severely hampered by a changing climate, growing population pressure, and the need to produce more food and fiber.

The challenge

A healthy and prosperous rural and regional Australia depends on a healthy agricultural sector, which in turn depends on healthy soils. Over 25% of the biodiversity on our planet is associated with the soil rhizosphere. Common soil constraints limit the capacity to produce quality crops and pastures. Improved soil management is required to meet the demands of the growing Australian agricultural industry while capturing carbon and meeting emission reduction targets.

The National Soil Strategy envisions Australia’s soil is recognized and valued as a key national asset by all stakeholders, and better understood and sustainably managed, to benefit and secure our environment, economy, food, infrastructure, health, biodiversity, and communities – now and in the future.

Achieving the goals and objectives of the National Soil Strategy in the Riverina demands soil extension support for the producers and land managers. Demand for extension outreach activities previously undertaken by Charles Sturt extension professionals has outstripped the capacity to conduct workshops and webinars.

This project is augmented by two additional Smart Farms Small Grants projects, 1.Dung beetle management on farm DAWE, and 2. Implementation of cover crops for improved drought tolerance and pest management DAWE.

Project name: Smart Farms Small Grants - Building resilient soils in the Riverina Region of NSW (2022 – 2024)

Funding Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment - National Landcare Program: Smart Farms Small Grants program $450,000.

Project Website

Our response

The Building Resilient Soils in the Riverina Region of NSW project is developing an extension outreach program for mixed farming stakeholders, to be delivered by trained and experienced outreach extension and adult educators specializing in soil science and agronomy at the Gulbali Institute.

A series of comprehensive online modules on soil monitoring and management plus those addressing key soil constraints are being developed to support Landcare trainers and community of soil practitioners. The modules are available online through a user-friendly website. The information in modules will be delivered to keen NSW stakeholders and consultants using on-farm face to face workshops, webinars and field demonstrations through existing central NSW Landcare, Farming systems and Gulbali Institute outreach networks.

This will lead to additional capacity and support for Landcare managers, trainers and producers to develop important skill sets in soil sampling, monitoring and assessment while fostering a fundamental understanding of the factors and constraints impacting productive soils, leading to improved soil management skills in the Central West and Southern Slopes regions of NSW.

The goal

The Building Resilient soils in the Riverina Region project aims to achieve:

a) the development of current information for BMP in soil monitoring and management to achieve resilience in regional soils and improved soil health to diverse agricultural stakeholders in central NSW,

b) development and delivery of fundamental training modules for stakeholders to enable the monitoring, assessment and management of regional soils using two proven methods of delivery: face to face workshops and on-line delivery of webinars,

c) creation of a technically innovative project website with social media presence to support evidence-based measures to assess soil fertility, nutrient cycling, organic matter deposition and soil biological diversity to better manage critical regional soil constraints including soil acidity, salinity, compaction, and erosion. It will also present the latest research findings on use of soil amendments and cover crops to improve soil organic matter, digital monitoring of local soils, carbon capture and carbon cycling and management of soil erosion,

d)  building capacity in participating regional stakeholders to adopt best practices for monitoring and managing resilient soils in the Riverina NSW,

e) the assessment of project capacity to deliver knowledge and improve adoption by diverse stakeholders.

Our team

Principal scientist

portrait of Professor Leslie Weston
Professor Leslie Weston
Research Professor of Plant Biology
View full profile

Our research team

portrait of Dr Saliya Gurusinghe
Dr Saliya Gurusinghe
Plant biosecurity
View full profile
portrait of Dr Nirodha Weeraratne
Dr Nirodha Weeraratne
Plant pathology
View full profile
portrait of Dr Shamsul Haque
Dr Shamsul Haque
Soil scientist
View full profile

Our partners

Connect and collaborate

We are looking for researchers, students, funding and partners to help take our research to the next level.