Fresh farming thinking
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.