Sandhill Blowhole Rehabilitation to Increase Soil Cover

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Video Transcript

One of the problems with sand is that its non-wetting and that really creates some problems trying to get any crop established on it. coming out in the paddock and having a look at what Terry’s done. he’s covered a couple of the issues – one of actually getting these blowholes, leveling them out so he can get his machinery over, but also lowering them so he can potentially to get down to where he can pull clay up.

Putting Organic Matter Back Into Sandy Soil

It also, hopefully, over time, will get organic matter back in that soil and provide a bit of structure for it. The blowhole’s a real problem. Often it’s stock. Particularly sheep will go up and camp on those sand hills and take the cover off and the wind starts and there can be huge blowholes. But if we can get cover on it and the stock off you’ve got a double win situation there. Main take home messages, one, we are looking at getting cover onto this sand area to stop wind erosion.

Nutrition Planning Needed to Maintain Soil Cover

Secondly, to do that, you really need some planning to look at nutrition so that you can get that cover to grow and maintain. And the third thing is to keep that cover over that area. We may build a smudge bar, There’s some small little machines made with rail way lines that were originally we were around, and we took that and modified it and — made it bigger with tram lines.

This machine would put two bars, and we made them solid so we can use the hydraulics of the machine to regulate the height of them and when we’ve been using we found that being able to not only to flatten our delving areas but we’ve used it to pull sand a considerable distance over on to magnesia patches. Since we’ve had it, we’ve learned to use it in a lot of different ways, and one of those is flattening out these big blowholes.

And getting some cover back on and fixing the grounds so we don’t have to go around them. Here we’ve picked on a blow hole and it’s going to be a bit of a challenge. What we did last year was we used bio-solids. After we flattened the hills, we sprayed the bio-solids out at about, I think, nine tons to the hectare.

Biosolids Stabilise Sand to Prepare for Soil Cover

The biosolids themselves actually stabilize the sand very well and it didn’t shift at all. Last year we actually had a really good result with what we’ve done. We’ve got cover on it. We’re not going to put stock on it. And we’re just going to work on it bit by bit. What we’re going to do this year though we haven’t got the facility of bio-solids because of the freight problem, we are going to get a contractor to put clay over the sand just to hold these couple.

I think it needs to be flattened, and needs clay, and it also needs organic matter. If you think about farmers that put in, say, two weeks of stone rolling a year, if we can do a week or two of clay work and sand fixing work a year it’s and our farm is getting better and better. We covered areas and brought them from the area that doesn’t produce anything that’s still prone to wind erosion.

Improved Yields a Great Result from Sand Rehabilitation

To this year, we’ve had about half our average yield off of some of these terrible areas. Part of this whole process, we have invested in machine with variable rate and we’re actually able to put different nutrients, different trace elements on these bad areas as we go. With the variable rate it’s a moving goal post too because once you start variable rating, the country actually gets that good it’s hard to say, well, that’s a poor area it needs extra nutrients. I think we’re actually on a winner. And the last few years, this area’s been very productive with really good quality wheat because of these drier area, these are marginal area, but the produce coming out here is really good and it makes me feel good as a farmer to have good grain that we are productive, that’s good for our country.

The overall picture Is they’re improving the country and we’re getting the carbon back into the soil and we can produce some good food

Linden Masters, Regional Landcare Facilitator on the Eyre Peninsula and Terry Schmucker, a farmer from Waddikee on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, discuss Terry’s innovative approach to solving sand hill blow holes on his property.

Years of drought and unsustainable farming practices have resulted in large blow holes developing on the dune swale country of the eastern and central Eyre Peninsula. Terry’s move to no till and variable rate farming practices have inspired him to find a solution to turning unproductive sand hills into productive areas whilst eliminating erosion risk.

The smudge bar that Terry designed and built levels blow holes and with the use of bio solids and clay, he is able to stabilise sand hills, overcome non wetting issues and begin to grow productive crops on these areas.

This is another video supported by the Social Media in Agriculture project funded by Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative.

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