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The Better Soils Project

Following the success of Right Rotations, the Advisory Board of Agriculture created the BETTER SOILS PROJECT in response to farmers' demands for more information on their soil and how this should be managed.


Launched in 1997, the Project was a skills development and learning program with the objective of improving farmers' knowledge and adoption of good soil management practices.


The farmer-led management committee, together with a technical committee comprising of researchers, soil specialists, agronomists, communicators and farmers, designed a program of 10 workshops to cover a wide spectrum of soil topics.


Feedback from participants and presenters gathered during the life of the Project helped to reshape the original plan into a series of three workshops and two research roadshows, together with on-farm trials and soil and root pit field days.


Collectively, over 2,500 land managers and advisers in South Australia have been involved in BETTER SOILS activities and most of these will have attended more than one activity.


It is estimated that these participants represent approximately 500,000 hectares of cropping, pasture and viticultural land in South Australia, approximately 18% of cropping land in the state.


Feedback indicates the Project has stimulated change and increased adoption of more sustainable soil management. 50% of participants indicated their intention to change soil management practices following attendance at one or more of the workshops.


Following the second workshop - 'Nutrition and the soil' - 33% of the 650 participants named a change in soil management practice which they had adopted since attending the first workshop held six months earlier.


BETTER SOILS has delivered workshops, on-farm trials, soil and root pit days and conference speakers to over 60 Bureaus and groups across South Australia. This has been achieved with assistance from over 65 collaborators.


Ultimately the BETTER SOILS PROJECT would not have occurred without the generous funding support of the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Natural Heritage Trust, Primary Industries and Resources SA and FarmBis.


Support material produced for the Project has been distributed right across Australia and much of the information collated by the BETTER SOILS PROJECT has been developed into nine TOPACTIVE workshops and this website to ensure its continued availability.


  1. Farm Monitoring Handbook, The University of Western Australia, 1992, N Hunt, R Gilkes.

  2. Guidelines for Interpretation of Soil Results - Primary Industries and Resources, SA.

  3. Guidelines for the Assessment of Agricultural Land, PIRSA 1993, D Maschmedt.

  4. Life in the Soil, CRC for Soil & Land Management, 1997, VVSR Gupta, SM Neate, EC Leonard.

  5. Managing Sodic, Acidic and Saline Soils, CRC for Soil & Land Management, 1997, P Rengasamy, J Bourne.

  6. McLaughlan et al. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 1998. 26, 343-353.

  7. Nutrition Tool Kit, PIRSA, 1994, R Payne.

  8. Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility, Hi-Fert, 1997, B Bull.

  9. Principles and Practices of Soil Science, The soil as a natural resource. Blackwell Science, 1997, RE White.

  10. Soil, Department of Agriculture Bulletin 462, 1960, JPB Blencowe, SD Moore, GJ Young, RC Shearer, R Hagerstrom, WM Conley, JS Potter.

  11. Soil Description Handbook, Mid North Edition, PIRSA, 1993, D Woodard, J Thomas.

  12. Soil Guide, Bulletin 4343, Agriculture Western Australia, 1998, G Moore.

  13. Soils - an outline of their properties and management, CSIRO Division of Soils, 1978, K Handreck et al.

  14. Surface Covers for Soil Protection, 1993, T Herrmann, Primary Industries SA.

  15. Understanding Soils, The Australian Grapegrower and Winemaker, 1998, A Cass et al.


  • Albert Rovira, then CRC Soil & Land Management

  • Alf Cass, then CRC Soil & Land Management

  • Ann Price, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Bill Blumsom, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Brian Hughes, PIRSA

  • Carol Scholfield, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Cliff Hignett, Soil Water Solutions

  • CRC Soil & Land Management

  • CSIRO Land & Water

  • Dale Lewis, PIRSA

  • David Brown, agronomist, Better Soils Committee

  • David Woodard, PIRSA,

  • Emma Leonard, Jon Lamb Communications

  • Graham Ashman, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Hi-Fert for use of material from their publication Plant Nutrition and Soil Fertility.

  • Ian Boothy, Pivot

  • Ian Grant, then Hifert

  • Ian Grierson, University Adelaide, Better Soils Committee

  • Jay Cummins, PIRSA, Better Soils Committee

  • Lawrie Merrit, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Mark Potter, SARDI

  • Michael Richards, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Micharl Wurst, PIRSA

  • Neville Angel, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Nigel Wilhelm, SARDI

  • Richard Payne, PIRSA, Better Soils Committee

  • Rob Rees, PIRSA, Better Soils Committee

  • Rodney Bell, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Roger Neild, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Ross Ballard, SARDI

  • Sally Smith, University of Adelaide

  • Stepehen Neate, CSIRO

  • Syd Nairn, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Tim Herrmann, PIRSA

  • Trevor Polkinghorne, farmer, Agricultural Bureau of SA

  • Tim Prance, PIRSA

  • Timothy Tuck, Big Break Productions

  • Tom Yeatman, PIRSA

  • Trent Scholz, Pivot

  • Trevor Wilksch, farmer, Better Soils Committee

  • Vadakattu Gupta, CSIRO

  • Vivien Vanstone, University of Adelaide




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