Stu­dents recog­nised for farm soil project

Shepparton News - Country News - - LIVESTOCK -

Two sec­ondary stu­dents from a live­stock prop­erty have demon­strated the im­pacts of pes­ti­cides and fer­tilis­ers on soil per­for­mance in a na­tional award pro­gram.

They are fi­nal­ists in the 2019 BHP Foun­da­tion Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Awards.

The 2019 fi­nal­ists were an­nounced last week and come from NSW, Queens­land, Tas­ma­nia, West­ern Aus­tralia and the ACT.

All stu­dents con­ducted in­de­pen­dent re­search or en­gi­neer­ing projects and en­tered their state Sci­ence Teacher As­so­ci­a­tion awards, mak­ing them el­i­gi­ble for the BHP Foun­da­tion Sci­ence and En­gi­neer­ing Awards.

Mak­ing pos­i­tive im­pacts to the world was a big mo­ti­va­tor for all the stu­dent fi­nal­ists.

The in­spi­ra­tion for 17-year-old Tiarra Meier and 15-year-old Anne Zim­mer­man’s project was their home, a prop­erty in Elsmore, NSW.

‘‘The land had been con­ven­tion­ally farmed since the 1950s,’’ Tiarra said.

‘‘In 1999, my dad suc­cess­fully changed how the prop­erty was man­aged by us­ing con­cen­trated groups of live­stock in small ar­eas for short pe­ri­ods and then a big rest pe­riod to mimic nat­u­ral graz­ing.’’ she said.

‘‘How­ever, there were still pad­docks where plants didn’t grow well de­spite good rain­fall and graz­ing man­age­ment so we de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate.

‘‘We dis­cov­ered that long-term use of pes­ti­cides, fer­tilis­ers and ex­ces­sive plough­ing all neg­a­tively im­pact soil bi­ol­ogy and be­gan to ex­plore if this could be the miss­ing link for many of our pad­docks.

‘‘Dur­ing our re­search we found that a lack of healthy soil bi­ol­ogy is af­fect­ing nu­tri­ent den­sity of plants grown for food.

‘‘It meant that our in­ves­ti­ga­tion was not only about im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment to ben­e­fit the farmer but it had wider im­pacts for food qual­ity.’’

Anne said it was a lot of work in the be­gin­ning with back­ground re­search, set­ting up trial plots, wa­ter­ing and test­ing the soil be­fore and af­ter.

‘‘We se­lected six plots and had the soil chem­i­cally and bi­o­log­i­cally an­a­lysed to see what we were work­ing with,’’ Anne said.

‘‘We then ap­plied chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal amend­ments to in­crease soil health and tested the soil again af­ter five months.’’

The win­ners of the BHP award will be an­nounced on Fe­bru­ary 5 at a cer­e­mony in Mel­bourne.

Good work . . . Tiarra Meier (left) and Anne Zim­mer­man work­ing on their project.

WEEK 1 LAND­MARK ROB DON NEL­SON RODWELLS ELDERS 11TH JAN 15TH FEB 22ND MAR 3RD MAY 7TH JUNE 12TH JULY 16TH AUG 20TH SEPT 1ST NOV 6TH DEC WEEK 2 NEL­SON RODWELLS ELDERS LAND­MARK ROB DON 18TH JAN 22ND FEB 29TH MAR 10TH MAY 14TH JUNE 19TH JULY 23RD AUG 4TH OCT 8TH NOV 13TH DEC WEEK 3 ELDERS LAND­MARK ROB DON NEL­SON RODWELLS 25th JAN 1ST MAR 5TH APR 17th MAY 21st JUNE 26th JULY 30TH AUG 11TH OCT 15th NOV WEEK 4 ROB DON NEL­SON RODWELLS ELDERS LAND­MARK 1ST FEB 8TH MAR 12TH APR 24th MAY 28th JUNE 2ND AUG 6TH SEPT 18th OCT 22nd NOV WEEK 5 RODWELLS ELDERS LAND­MARK ROB DON NEL­SON 8TH FEB 15TH MAR 26TH APR 31st MAY 5TH JULY 9TH AUG 13TH SEPT 25th OCT 29th NOV

WEEK 1 ROB DON NOR VIC WIL­SON LAND­MARK ELDERS NEL­SON RODWELLS 8TH JAN 26TH FEB 16TH APR 4TH JUN 23RD JUL 10TH SEPT 29TH OCT 17TH DEC WEEK 2 LAND­MARK RODWELLS ROB DON NEL­SON WIL­SON NOR VIC ELDERS 15TH JAN 5TH MAR 23RD APR 11TH JUN 30TH JUL 17TH SEPT 5TH NOV WEEK 3 NEL­SON ELDERS LAND­MARK NOR VIC ROB DON RODWELLS WIL­SON 22nd JAN 12TH MAR 30th APR 18th JUN 6TH AUG 24th SEPT 12TH NOV WEEK 4 NOR VIC WIL­SON NEL­SON RODWELLS LAND­MARK ELDERS ROB DON 29th JAN 19th MAR 7TH MAY 25th JUN 13TH AUG 1ST OCT 19th NOV WEEK 5 RODWELLS ROB DON NOR VIC ELDERS NEL­SON WIL­SON LAND­MARK 5TH FEB 26th MAR 14TH MAY 2ND JULY 20th AUG 8TH OCT 26th NOV WEEK 6 ELDERS LAND­MARK RODWELLS WIL­SON NOR VIC ROB DON NEL­SON 12TH FEB 2ND APR 21st MAY 9TH JUL 27th AUG 15th OCT 3RD DEC WEEK 7 WIL­SON NEL­SON ELDERS ROB DON RODWELLS LAND­MARK NOR VIC 19th FEB 9TH APR 28th MAY 16TH JUL 3RD SEPT 22nd OCT 10TH DEC

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