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Ann Britton Outback Photography

Organic matter……..matters for healthy soil

Did you know that the UN declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils?
Want to know if you have healthy soil?
Collect 1/3 glass jar of soil, 1/2 fill the jar with water and shake vigorously, let settle for an hour and the organic matter will float. Measure the thickness of the float and compare with the thickness of soil at the bottom of the jar. Healthy soil should contain at least 5% organic matter.
Thanks to Laurie an Agforce member for this information

BRA_5666 whirly wind
Rick took a sample of soil from our house paddock this September to find out about our organic matter.
This paddock has not been grazed since June 2014.
This photo was taken 22 November 2015

House paddock Goodwood organic matter
Rick measured 7 1/2% organic matter

This is our rainfall from Goodwood for the last three years up to when this soil was taken

2013/ 11 wet days/ wettest day 12 mm / Total 53mm

2014/ 13 wet days/ wettest day 30mm / Total 114mm

2015 / 7 wet days / wettest day 10mm / Total 40mm

(we may have had a couple small falls of 4-7mm since then and one of those didn’t reach the house paddock, just the lawn)
2010 house paddock copy
Same paddock in 2010, in which year we measured 365mm at Goodwood.
In 2011 445mm and in 2012 270.5mm
#Rangelands, if managed correctly, which we, Goodwood Pastoral Company, have proven via case studies with Desert Channels Queensland (which is on going) and Melbourne University, shows that all the environment needs is what nature provides, rain, hopefully in plentiful quantities.
This rain is not just to keep our business viable but to also keep the trees, water systems and native animals healthy and able to survive, as well.
We have not seen a good flood in our country for over 10 years, since it is Channel Country it can handle and does love a good flood.

Our management plan is very flexible and ultimately determined by Mother Nature. This is a harsh unforgiving country, if you chose to ignore the weather and don’t “listen” to the land.
Managing it can’t be following a carbon copy of last years management plan. It would not be practical to have a manual to refer to for year in year out management of country that’s subject to more dry times than wet.

Why our management plan changes often?
I have listed a few reasons below:
Boulia Shire average, not guaranteed, annual rainfall is around 230mm. If you receive 3 good years in 10 you could be classed lucky.
Our wet season is from November, where we wish for early storms, to March. Hopefully somewhere in between an all over general rain has set in, which would last us through to the next November.
Each rain pattern is different……which could mean difference in growth of differing grasses
Winter rain, which is rare, brings different grasses and herbage than summer rain
Receiving good storm rain in summer, with no follow up rain, could bring no advantage at all, as the new grow would be burnt off with the hot temperatures and winds.
Good dry feed can be blown away and burnt by hot winds

There are many other variables but one thing is for sure….just add rain water, and not all that much, to this country, after you have managed it appropriately, and it will bounce back full of life, growing and seeding, putting itself into survival mode for the next lot of rain…..whenever that will be.

Like all my blogs, I wrote this so people can understand more about the country where I live and of course I’m always happy to answer any questions.

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