Completed Projects

Project 1.1.01

Activating markets to create incentives for improved soil management literature scoping study.

Project 1.1.01

Professor Mark Morrison – Project Leader
Charles Sturt University

The project developed a user manual for selecting, adapting and where necessary, creating and implementing market-based instruments.

Market-based instruments involve the identification or creation of financial or other incentives and, where needed, the removal or reduction of disincentives, for improved soil management within consumer or other markets.

The team of researchers from CSU, UTAS, USQ and UON working on this output developed potential project ideas in this area. They identified key issues and stakeholders, clarified program objectives and scoped out potential project areas.

They liaised with Soil CRC industry partners to clarify issues, provided an overview of market-based incentives, gauged their support for proposed projects and got insights into potential modifications to future projects.

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Project 1.1.02

How better soil management could affect property prices*.

Project 1.1.02

Professor Mark Morrison – Project Leader
Charles Sturt University

The goal of this project was to understand how soil management practices influence property prices, so farmers can better understand the pay-off from investments in improving soil management. A hedonic pricing model that uses internal and external factors to determine a property’s value or price was be applied.

Hedonic pricing models measure the effect of identified factors on future property prices through statistical analyses that determine the relationship between different data points. To build a hedonic pricing model, it is critical to collect data about property prices and the identified factors. This is what this project sought to achieve.

The project had three components:

  1. Data collection of property sale prices
  2. Data collection of contributing factors from a farmer perspective
  3. Training of a research officer in hedonic pricing model analysis

The project team collected and built datasets on the following:

  • Sources and availability of data required for hedonic price analysis,
  • Soil feature and soil management databases and geographic information system (GIS) layers,
  • Property sale prices,
  • A range of other property characteristics including (farm size, fencing, slope, yield, vegetation, presence of a house, farm infrastructure, accessibility etc.), and
  • Farmer contact details.

The project involved interviews with farmers and property agents to better understand the factors influencing farmers when purchasing properties.

*This project has additional funding provided by the NSW Government Department of Industry’s Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP).

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Project 1.2.003

Collaborative approaches to innovation

Project 1.2.003

Dr Nicholas Pawsey – Project Leader
Charles Sturt University

This project investigated how farmers who manage their soil well can be financially rewarded. It took a multi-disciplinary approach, involving soil researchers, farmer groups and the finance industry. Working together, they established a shared understanding of the soil-farmer-finance ‘system’.

Existing networks were strengthened and new ones developed in order to establish an agenda for on-going collaborative studies concerning how consumers value soil management and the financial mechanisms that promote effective and sustainable soil management practices.

The project demonstrated effective principles of collaboration that can be used by other Soil CRC projects that seek to understand the research needs of farmers and other stakeholders.

The longer term objective was to ensure that agricultural financial decision processes, together with land valuation practices, recognise farmers who enhance soil condition and also recognise the costs of soil degradation. This is ultimately to enable increased access to lower cost finance for farmers who engage in practices recognised as improving soil security, condition and productivity. The project was executed through a series of three workshops and the use of online collaborative platforms.

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Duration

Participants

Project 1.2.01

Scoping systems of acceptance of improved soil management, with a focus on decision support systems and tools.

Project 1.2.01

Associate Professor Catherine Allan – Project Leader
Charles Sturt University

The Soil CRC will produce various outputs and products with the potential to increase the performance of agricultural soils in Australia. Farmers will only adopt and invest in products that are relevant, and to do this they need access to decision support systems (DSS). A comprehensive review determined the range, availability and suitability of existing DSS relevant to soil management.

The objective was to indicate the scope for the Soil CRC to use existing farmer decision support interfaces for the uptake and use of research outputs.

This scoping study review considered the broader context as well as scoped the existing DSS, and therefore supported the outputs of the Soil CRC.

They ran a series of facilitated on-line and in-person meetings among approximately 20 Soil CRC members working with Program 1.2 and 1.3, and in other Soil CRC Programs, in particular Program 4.

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Project 1.3.001

Risk assessment of new practices

Project 1.3.001

Associate Professor Kala Saravanathu
– Project leader University of Newcastle

Decisions about sustainably increasing soil productivity are often influenced by financial profitability rather than considerations of ecosystem resilience. This project used integrated risk management software to facilitate collaborative resilience thinking. It integrated field data about on-farm productivity with farmers’ and experts’ real-world, lived experiences of how farm productivity is affected by the consequences of unsustainable practices.

It mapped out the risk profiles for a catchment using farmers’ and experts’ shared meanings of the risks and benefits emerging from the Soil CRC’s research. This in turn will help farmers and their advisers decide on acceptable risk thresholds, which ultimately increases farmer productivity and profitability.

The project used a web-based, integrated risk platform to socially integrate the multi-dimensional attributes of soil re-engineering interventions. It enables the transfer of knowledge between scientists and farmers as they examine the consequences of re-engineering.

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Duration

Participants

Project 1.4.01

Innovation capability building*.

Project 1.4.01

Professor David Falepau – Project Leader
Charles Sturt University

Through this project, the Soil CRC will build long term innovation capability within the participating organisations. It will establish innovation partnership agreements and complete innovation strategic plans with Soil CRC partner farmer groups. Innovation programs are often generic, so to avoid this, a program will be tailored to the needs of the Soil CRC participants (including farmer groups) and innovations will be targeted towards achieving greater economic returns on investment in good soil stewardship.

Over the longer term, it is intended the program will integrate across all of the Soil CRC Programs, and participants creating an innovation eco-system targeted at high performance soils.

The building of long term innovation capability within participating organisations is intended to extend the benefits of the Soil CRC investment well beyond the life of the Soil CRC.

*This project has additional funding provided by the NSW Government Department of Industry’s Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP).

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Project 1.4.002

Building farmer innovation capability

Project 1.4.002

Professor David Falepau – Project Leader
Charles Sturt University

Lack of adoption of agricultural technologies and practices by farmers has historically been a significant problem. In order to stay competitive farmers increasingly need to undergo rapid transformation.

This project began the refinement of a partnership approach which builds the long term capability of farmers, through farmer groups, to lead the innovation process from ideation through to commercialisation and adoption. Farmers are most likely to adopt the technologies and practices that they initiate or develop.

The project trained an innovation manager within each participating farmer group on how to design and implement an innovation system. They were also trained on how to support farmer members to build their capability to develop innovative soil management technologies and practices specific to their farms and management systems.

Initially, the project built the capacity of four Soil CRC farmer groups to implement innovation systems that focus on soil management. The longer term vision for this project was to roll out this innovation capability partnership model to other Soil CRC farmer groups and agribusinesses and beyond.

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Related Programs

Duration

One year

Participants

Charles Sturt University
Birchip Cropping Group
Central West Farming Systems
AIR EP
Herbert Cane Productivity Services
Riverine Plains Inc.

Project 2.1.01

A review of indicators of soil health and function: farmers’ needs and data management.

Project 2.1.01

Associate Professor Peter Dahlhaus – Project Leader
Federation University

The aim of this review was to determine which indicators would be most practical to improve profitability for Australian farmers.

This included examining whether we have suitable data available to measure and monitor trends, the tools to store, share and make this data available as well as determining what additional data is required, how they are best collected and ensuring that the data and tools are available beyond the life of the CRC.

As a scoping study, the outcomes will guide future CRC projects by providing a comprehensive review of the relevance of reliable, easily measurable and practical soil health and function indicators and their ability to link soil measurements with yield, productivity and profitability.

Project 2.1.02

Is the isotopic composition of bulk soil carbon and nitrogen a robust indicator of agricultural soil health?*

Project 2.1.02

Dr Naomi Wells – Project Leader
Southern Cross University

The goal of this project was to identify indicators of carbon and nitrogen status in soils that can be used across a wide range of soil types, while minimising any possible laboratory bias and also being measurable on archived soil samples.

To establish farm-relevant indicators of soil health, the complexity of overlapping effects of climate, soil type and management practices need to be considered. Data is required on baseline soil nutrient cycling capacity to connect on-farm measurements to soil health.

The proposed research outlined the local ‘soil health’ definitions that will underpin the next 10 years of Soil CRC research of managing high performance soils across Australia’s diverse climatic growing regions.

*This project has additional funding provided by the NSW Government Department of Industry’s Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP).

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Project 2.2.01

Soil sensor technologies – which ones are most useful for smarter farming?

Project 2.2.01

Dr Marcus Hardie and Assoc Prof John Bennett – Project Leaders
University of Tasmania and University of Southern Queensland

The purpose of the review was to identify existing and prototype soil sensors for consideration by the Soil CRC for investment in research and development.

The review focused on proximal (installed in or immediately above the soil), point scale and mobile sensors and sensory systems. The review considered potential chemical, physical and biological sensors for indicating soil health, function or performance.

Emphasis was placed on reviewing sensors for priority soil attributes identified by growers in Project 2.1.01

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Project 3.1.01

Review and meta-analysis of waste-derived fertiliser products, nano-porous materials for pesticide delivery, and moisture retention and microbial carrier technologies.

Project 3.1.01

Professor Chengrong Chen – Project Leader
Griffith University

Intensive agriculture has led to land degradation in some areas. Together with inefficient use of fertiliser and pesticides/herbicides, the productivity and sustainability of many agricultural systems in Australia is greatly limited.

The aim of this scoping study was to undertake a comprehensive review and meta-analysis of potential values of waste by-products and natural resources in Australia to be used for manufacturing new fertilisers, nano-porous materials for pesticide/herbicide delivery, and moisture retention and microbial carrier products.

The outcomes provided recommendations on the priorities for future research investment to meet Program 3 Milestone Output 1 (novel high performance fertiliser products), 2 (new low residual pesticide/ herbicide delivery systems) and 4 (effective delivery of beneficial microorganisms).

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Project 3.1.02

Identifying the processes for unlocking soil phosphorus to increase soil productivity*

Project 3.1.02

Dr Dane Lamb – Project Leader
University of Newcastle

The goal of this project was to understand the reactions of phosphorous fertilisers in soils and the various chemical and biological processes involved in unlocking phosphorous so that crops can use it, thereby increasing the productivity of Australian agricultural soils.

Although phosphorous is present in significant quantities in many agricultural soils, a majority proportion exists in strongly adsorbed or insoluble inorganic forms, and therefore is not bioavailable to agricultural crops.

Most modern agriculture systems are heavily reliant on recurrent inputs of nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium, magnesium and trace elements. These nutrients are derived primarily from synthetic fertilisers using nutrient rich mineral resources such as phosphate rock and elemental sulphur. With increasing costs of fertiliser production and decline in the supply of natural mineral resources, farmers face the challenge of ensuring crops have sufficient access to the nutrients they need to thrive.

*This project has additional funding provided by the NSW Government Department of Industry’s Research Attraction and Acceleration Program (RAAP).

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Project 3.3.01

Mapping projects on ameliorating soil constraints, and review of soil constraints, products and technologies.

Project 3.3.01

Dr Susan Orgill – Project Leader
NSW Department of Primary Industries

This project identified the location, scope and impact of current research investigating soil constraints to agricultural production, and reviewed the major soil constraints to Australian agriculture and the amelioration products and technologies to manage these constraints.

This project produced a report based on an objective needs assessment using an economic framework for prioritisation that will be critical in deciding the future research directions for Program 3.

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Project 4.1.01

Scoping study to identify and prioritise regional soil constraints.

Project 4.1.01

Diana Parsons – Project Leader
Central West Farming Systems

This scoping study consulted with end users to identify the key issues that are contributing to lower production due to soil constraints so that the future research of program 4 (with aspects informing Program 3, output 3) can be directed and targeted to deliver outcomes in these areas.

A key deliverable of this study is the establishment of formal engagement between researchers and growers in the identification and prioritisation of issues. The on-ground relationships this scoping study established are critical to the successful adoption of future Soil CRC outcomes.

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Project 4.3.01

Soil models, tools and data: Current state of play, future directions and setting up for longevity and a legacy from the CRC for High Performance Soils

Project 4.3.01

Dr Keith Pembleton – Project Leader
University of Southern Queensland

The suite of decision support systems (DSS) needed to be reviewed and assessed to ensure their effectiveness and their usefulness and longevity beyond the life of the Soil CRC.

This scoping project mapped, reviewed and assessed the landscape of the DSS, models and data. Recommendations have been made on how DSS developed through the Soil CRC can build on past research to have impact and longevity.

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