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APA 5. Soil Moisture Retention-McVeigh Case Study
15 Apr 2009
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4. Soil Moisture Retention – McVeigh Case Study

Control Traffic Farming coupled with minimum and zero tillage practices have bought with it significant improvements in soil structure, and water infiltration and quality. Brian McVeigh sees the two practices working hand in hand with each other.

Brian McVeigh has been farming on the edge of the Jimbour floodplain since the early 1980’s, and has been implementing a minimum tillage system for the last 8-10 years. The main reason for the move to minimum tillage farming was soil moisture retention, however, other associated benefits have become more apparent since then.

Five to six years ago Brian moved into a zero tillage system. Control traffic tracks were established with markers. Since then, the effects of soil compaction have become apparent, namely differences in plant vigour and yield.

Over time the wheel tracks have widened due to equipment operator error. Some of the wheel tracks have become so wide that they’ve become difficult to distinguish from the guess rows. Consequently, Brian sees further improvements in compaction, yield, and soil structural properties being achieved by moving to 2cm GPS technology. On the ground this will equate to the current 1m wide wheel tracts being reduced to approximately 30cm.

Precision Farming techniques like Control Traffic and zero til have resulted in a noticeable improvement in soil microbial activity, a more friable soil texture, and greater soil moisture retention on Brian’s properties. Using his moisture probe Brian displays the noticeable difference between the stored soil moisture within the rows to that of the compacted wheel tracks.

Brian is quoted as saying that “Control traffic is nearly more important that zero til” unquote, because of the impact compaction has on soil properties and yield. Moving to 2cm accurate Precision Agriculture technology will fine tune their farming system and improve the sustainability of their soil resource.

Thanks must go to all of the participants of this project.

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