SRA Final report Sodic soils and rising groundwater management in the Burdekin
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Sodic soils are a production limiting issue for large areas of the Burdekin region. Saline soils, saline groundwater and rising groundwater tables also have a high possibility to further limit yield potential. Rising groundwater levels are a very serious threat and there is some urgency in being able to efficiently deal with the issue. Many growers and advisors in the region are not well educated about the interaction between all of these factors, as well as the most appropriate management strategies. This project developed structured workshops to build awareness and understanding by growers and advisors in the underlying science of sodic and saline soils and groundwater interaction. It presented and discussed management options for a range of scenarios. The workshop help to identify the best amelioration strategies (gypsum, lime, mill mud) for growers and with gypsum prices increasing significantly (from $100 to $180/T spread over the last few years) the most cost effective solution needs to be adopted to promote more sustainable farming systems. The project assisted the private consultant Roger Shaw to travel to the Burdekin region and share his knowledge on the issues described. These workshops were facilitated by Rob Milla (Burdekin Productivity Services) and attended by 22 technical advisors and 39 growers. The workshops were an excellent opportunity for growers and advisors to increase their knowledge and be able to discuss practical management options with a very experienced consultant. Collective agreement with advisors and growers was that an industry wide (and industry led) approach is required to address the very serious and potentially production limiting issue of rising groundwater and conjunctive use of this high conductivity water with low conductivity channel water.