How a routine enquiry with RegenWA turned into a shared soil experience for land managers in Gidgegannup.
RegenWA represents some of the leading-edge farmers in WA, advocating regenerative land management pracices. As the facilitating organisation for RegenWA, Perth NRM is able to bring decades of experience in agriculture and community engagement to this work, which has led to an increased role and voice in the fast-developing issues of soil health.
The RegenWA team recently received a request for information from a Gidgegannup landholder, Jen, about taking first steps toward regenerative practices on one of their paddocks; how to conduct soil testing, useful species and suppliers.
After receiving similar queries at the recent Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day, the team spoke to Jen, who kindly agreed to host an information session at her property.
The free information afternoon was held on Saturday 26th June, featuring guest speaker Belinda Taylor, to provide landholders in the Gidgegannup area with an insight into soils, what different local weed species tell us about soil health and how to manage them sustainably, as well as improving soil health to allow for pasture species to establish and assist with restoring the landscape, especially in fire-affected areas.
Belinda specialises in small property and pasture management and barefoot trimming for horses and provided really insightful information and practical tips. Belinda bought along a variety of local weeds and pasture grasses, explaining how each of them can tell you something about the soil – eg. How certain weed species are more likely to establish depending on if the soil is waterlogged, disturbed, compacted, acidic etc.
The importance of ground cover and soil microbes was also discussed, with Belinda demonstrating how to conduct a soil test yourself and where to send soil samples for further analysis, how to use a refractometer (a tool that can be used to test the health of your plants) and recommending some organic fertililsers to improve soil microbial activity.
A highlight of the day was the sense of shared community interest from the 15 local landholders, who shared their own knowledge and experiences, and started to discuss ways they could continue to collaborate, staying in touch, sharing freight costs for purchasing organic fertilisers, as well as the potential for holding more events across their properties.