Soils are in poor shape, survey says

A SURVEY of 330 soils from 218 properties throughout the North Coast has found many are in poor condition.

Greg Reid, an advisory officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, carried out the survey during a project funded by the Northern Rivers Catchment Authority.

Three-quarters of the soils tested had nutrient deficiencies; sulphate being most commonly deficient, followed closely by phosphate and calcium deficiencies.

“With the high cost of fertilisers we had expected many soils to be nutrient deficient, however, the high percentage of other problems is a concern,” Mr Reid said.

North Coast soils are commonly acidic, however, 39 per cent were found to have become so acidic as to have a pH reading of less than 4.7.

Associated with this acidity is an increase in levels of aluminium toxic to plants.

Beyond these problems, which might be corrected with fertiliser or lime, the survey found a disturbing incidence of more intractable problems. One-fifth of the soils had poor structure and this was commonly associated with low levels of organic carbon.

Climate change is expected to affect the North Coast by increasing the intensity of rainfall, while reducing the frequency of rainfall events.

“Landowners would be well advised to look beyond nutrient deficiencies in their soils and consider measures to improve the ability of their soil to absorb and store rainfall,” Mr Reid said.



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