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SoilsWest releases ebook focused on sodic and alkaline soil to ‘provide a legacy’ of current research

WA grain growers wondering how to tackle sodic and alkaline soil have been encouraged to check out a new ebook produced by SoilsWest that forms another part of what is now an eight-book series.

The publication — called Soil Quality: 8 Sodic and Alkaline Soil — is the eighth in a series of ebooks produced by SoilsWest and was launched at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days late last month.

SoilsWest is a research partnership between Murdoch University and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

The organisation worked with the Grains Research Development Corporation to produce the publication, which includes knowledge on identifying constraints and best practice soil management in an easy-to-navigate format.

It also allows readers to choose the level of detail they require.

SoilsWest director Frances Hoyle, who is also the Murdoch University associate professor, said all eight of the publications had “enormous value” in providing a legacy of the current state of knowledge, scientific evidence and grower experiences to help landholders manage soil constraints.

The new book.
Camera IconThe new book. Credit: GRDC/GRDC

She said the books would appeal to aspiring scientists, growers, consultants and academics both in Australia and internationally.

“There is a growing realisation that the soil resource is a key mitigation tool influencing climate change, as well as underpinning the production of food, feed, fibre, and fuel,” Prof. Hoyle said.

“Soil makes up the very foundation of where we live and play — providing key functions that underpin agriculture and sustain the environment.”

Launching the book at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days, GRDC Western Panel Chair Darrin Lee said the series was created in response to grower and industry demand for a platform that enabled them to read, listen and view soil management information from any location, including the tractor.

“Some of the most valuable learnings we pick up as growers is by peer-to-peer learning. This series of e-books is an incredible collection of information and case studies that are intuitive and insightful,” Mr Lee said.

“You’ll be able to find something that suits your farming environment. There’s so much applicable knowledge that you can draw from these publications.

“Given the impressive breadth of soils research that has been undertaken in WA by the SoilsWest partnership, these ebooks are an easily accessible way to build further knowledge for growers who are looking to better understand their soil profiles.”

The impact of constraints associated with sodicity and alkalinity, such as soil structure and stability, transient salinity and waterlogging, are explained in animations, illustrations, video and case studies to help readers to understand the causes, characteristics and processes involved.

The ebook provides a practical manual for growers wanting to optimise management solutions.

In the publication, authors DPIRD principal research scientist Ed Barrett-Lennard, DPIRD research scientist Wayne Parker, and DPIRD research scientist Rushna Munir outline the complex nature and extent of sodic and alkaline soil in WA, which make up about 60 per cent of the 18 million arable hectares in WA.

“These soils are usually either gradational or duplex (texture contrast) soils, with a clay content greater than 20 per cent,” Mr Hall said.

“Accumulation of salts from rainfall can cause changes in soil structure and stability leading to constraints, such as transient salinity, waterlogging and soil crusting.

“It is critical that growers understand and develop strategies to optimise the influence of the environment and management on soil habitats to sustain soil production and resilience.”

DPIRD soil science and crop nutrition portfolio manager Chris Gazey said the new publication would add further value to the SoilsWest ebook series, which included Soil Quality: 1 Constraints to Plant Production, 2 Integrated Soil Management, 3 Soil Organic Matter, 4 Soil Acidity, 5 Soil Biology, 6 Soil Compaction, and 7 Soil Water Repellence.

The Soil Quality: 8 Sodic and Alkaline Soil ebook is available at no cost via Apple Books, along with the first seven publications in the series.

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