Riverine Plains Blog

How Can We Manage and Improve Our Soil Carbon Levels?

Key Messages:
  • Carbon is present in the soil in many different forms.
  • Including a pasture phase and pulses/legumes in the cropping rotation is essential to improve soil organic matter and nitrogen levels, promote microbial activity and ultimately increase soil organic carbon. 
  • Evaluating management practices to increase soil carbon is necessary to ensure they are economically viable for a farming business.
  • Several environmental factors (rainfall, evaporation, solar radiation, and temperature), as well as soil type, nutrient availability and land management influence maximum soil organic carbon storage capacity 
 
What Is Soil Carbon?

Soil carbon can occur in organic and inorganic forms.

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Rust in Cereals

Key Points:
  • Check crops now for signs of cereal rust and other diseases 
  • Time fungicide applications to protect the yield-producing leaves  
  • Rotate fungicide groups to reduce the risk of resistance developing 

Given early disease build up in areas of NSW and Victoria, ongoing wet conditions and the widespread planting of susceptible cultivars, Riverine Plains region growers are encouraged to inspect crops now for signs of rust and other cereal diseases.  

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Managing Sclerotinia

Key points 
  • The past few seasons have likely increased sclerotinia loads across the region 
  • Sclerotinia develops under specific moisture and temperature conditions 
  • In high-risk years, a preventative fungicide should be applied at 20-30% bloom  

While sclerotinia stem rot is best known as a disease of canola, it can also cause damage to peas, beans, sunflowers, soybeans, chickpeas and lupins. 

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Pesticide Resistance – Is It On Your Radar?

Key Points:
  • Use pesticides judiciously to prevent resistance developing 
  • Use a range of strategies to manage pest populations 
  • Consider resistance testing on suspect populations 

While we might defer a lot of our pesticide management decisions to our advisors, as farm business managers (and spray applicators), we ultimately have the final say in what goes onto our paddocks and when.  

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