Local farmers Geoff and Bev Kowald are partnering with Katanning Landcare, Katanning DAFWA and through funding obtained by South West Catchment Council (SWCC) are aiming to establish summer crops of millet, sorghum and sunflowers.
They hope to demonstrate that summer crops grown in the area can provide increased ground cover through summer following harvest as well as reducing soil erosion, improving soil health, reducing soil acidification and providing summer feed if not harvested.
The aim is to have the greatest diversity of plants and year-round soil cover. Summer crops are a mechanism to achieve soil cover given sufficient moisture.
The ultimate aim is to have 100% ground cover and to increase soil microbes so the soil will hold more available water.
The past summer has proven a challenge for establishment of the different species due to dry conditions, however recent rain from the thunderstorm in mid-March has stimulated some germination.
A group of keen observers viewed the trial on 30th March 2015.
Discussing first year trial results, and establishment challenges.
Sorghum! Look how tall that is!!
Lablab in flower.
The electronic soil moisture probe was a real hit!
This file contains all of the soil test results so far, including rainfall, soil moisture, soil nutrients, and more: BevKowald_alltrialdata
(xls spreadsheet), but below you will find the summary data presented at the field walk, which is probably a bit easier to read.
Also related to this event, a scan of a wonderful article from December 2014 in the WANTFA New Frontiers in Agriculture – Summer 2014-2015, pages 410-141: Making the most of summer rainfall while improving soil and profits by Lauren Celenza, WANTFA Extension Manager
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