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Increase in use of soil enhancers on Australian farms
The number of agricultural businesses applying lime, dolomite and other types of soil enhancers in Australia increased 19 per cent between 2013-2014 and 2014-15 figures, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Ms Lauren Binns, ABS Director of Rural Environment and Agricultural Statistics, said that given the importance of Australia’s agricultural land holdings to both the environment and the economy it was heartening to see movements towards practices which improve soil condition and help maintain natural resources.
"There were notable increases in the application of products such as dolomite and lime, which are used in the management of acidic soils and to maintain optimum soil pH," said Ms Binns.
These increases were in both the area to which soil enhancers were applied and the weight applied in tonnes, observed at the national level as up 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.
In 2014-15, an estimated 3 million tonnes of lime were applied to 2.3 million hectares of land across Australia, with the majority used in Western Australia.
"There were an estimated 1.8 million tonnes of lime applied to 1.4 million hectares of land in Western Australia during 2014-15. Acidic soils are widespread throughout many cropping regions in Western Australia and therefore, liming is required to protect the soil resources over the long term," said Ms Binns.
However, it is not good news across the board. Warm and dry conditions across much of Australia have led to an increase in the area where farmers have used stock grazing as a method of managing crop stubble after the crop has been harvested.
"This crop residue management practice brings with it an increased chance of soil erosion, but we have seen farmers looking for feed alternatives in many regions around Australia this year," said Ms Binns.
An additional 650,000 hectares of crop stubble was grazed off in 2014-15 with Western Australia again accounting for much of this change.
Further details can be found in Land Management and Farming in Australia (2014-15) (cat. no 4624.0), available for free download from the ABS website: http://www.abs.gov.au
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