Soil health

Soil health

Soil and nutrient management has changed significantly in the past 20 years, greatly improving the efficiency of crop production.

Recommendations for optimal nitrogen rates have become more accurate and specific; there is greater attention to ensuring all plant nutrients are in adequate supply; trash retention has reduced erosion; controlled traffic farming and reduced tillage have improved soil structure and reduced costs; and well-managed legume fallows help break pest and disease cycles while reducing fertiliser costs and improving soil health.

The need to focus on soil health and not just nitrogen and the importance of good agronomic practices is clear. While nitrogen is important for productivity, it is clear improved soil biology will achieve healthier soils which will result in better yields, benefiting both the farm business and the environment. Read more.

Many farmers have been keen to trial a variety of soil-enhancing activities in recent years including the Rossi family at Aloomba. They've been making compost on an industrial scale, winning a 2019 Reef Champion Award and being featured in a CANEGROWERS Virtual Bus Tour video Composting on a Wet Tropics Cane Farm

Providing adequate nutrients, especially N, P and K, has long been the focus of soil management for sugarcane growers. Farm practices today have changed greatly with the advancements in soil and nutrient management. Smartcane BMP’s first module examines how to improve soil health and optimise nutrient management to reduce soil constraints to crop production, where physical, like compaction, or chemical, like sodicity. Read more.

Tully grower Ray Zamora installed   
his own bio-fertiliser brewing and
storage system.


Soil health is the number one priority for Tully grower Ray Zamora. In 2016 he averaged 118 tonnes of cane per hectare at his Euramo farm, one of his best growing seasons to date. The previous year he topped the district’s dollar per hectare productivity chart. What’s most impressive about Ray’s success is not his tonnage, but that he's achieved it while reducing commercial nitrogen inputs by more than 20 per cent.

Ray has embraced a flexibility in his farming practices and introduced a raft of changes over the years, including moving his entire farm to zonal tillage and brewing his own compost tea. In recent years Ray has discovered his true passion – improving soil health. Read more

The Russo family from the Isis district are 'Going nuts to improve soil health' as they show us how they are using peanuts, together with an efficient irrigation system, to boost their soil and improve productivity of their sugarcane crops in Episode 2, Season 7 of the CANEGROWERS' Virtual Bus Tour series.

Also in this section: Controlled traffic and Fallow management