Fresh farm­ing think­ing

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Times News - Ce­cilia Allen

THE spot­light was on all things sci­ence and agri­cul­ture when some of the re­gion’s lead­ing sci­en­tists gath­ered in Man­jimup for a two-day con­fer­ence last week.

The Sci­ence and In­no­va­tion in South West Agri­cul­ture con­fer­ence was or­gan­ised by the South West Sci­ence Coun­cil.

Top­ics ranged from live­stock, cli­mate change, pro­cess­ing and value adding to new tech­nolo­gies.

Man­jimup av­o­cado and cat­tle farmer Doug Pow pre­sented his find­ings on tri­alling dif­fer­ent meth­ods of im­prov­ing his farm’s soil health, in­clud­ing plac­ing biochar un­der his av­o­cado trees.

He also in­tro­duced dung bee­tles on his farm to help mix cow ma­nure into the soil to im­prove soil fer­til­ity, re­duce par­a­site loads and re­duce flies, po­ten­tially sav­ing him tens of thou­sands of dol­lars each year.

Mr Pow was pleased by the $9.2 mil­lion an­nounce­ment of Gov­ern­ment fund­ing for a project to be led by Meat and Live­stock Aus­tralia which will fo­cus on us­ing dung bee­tles to in­crease farm pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity.

“It’s a work in progress but we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.

“Dung bee­tles have the po­ten­tial to be eco­nom­i­cally ben­e­fi­cial.”

Mr Pow also said there was a ca­pac­ity to im­prove av­o­cado grow­ing without just plant­ing on more land.

“Av­o­ca­dos come from a vol­canic an­dosol, which is soil de­rived from vol­canic ash, dif­fer­ent from any soil in the world,” he said.

“We are try­ing to chem­i­cally get the soil sim­i­lar to that which they evolved in, and biochar as­sists that.

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