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June 2006 - June 2008 Location: Bathurst (NSW); Wanneroo (WA); Werribee (Vie); Waterloo (SA); Devonport (Tas); Gatton (Qld); Kununurra (northern WA); Leppington (NSW) and Virginia (SA), Principal investigator: Helena Whitman, AUSVEG The need The Australian vegetable industry comprises 5,500 levy-paying growers with a production base of 104,500ha, producing foodstuffs worth an estimated $2bn/year. The diversity of produce grown, growing locations and language barriers make it dificult to produce and deliver information relevant to all sectors. How this project fits with HSSF objectives This project satisfies the programme objectives in: Providing a tool to help producers record and assess the management and health of their soils; and Offering opportunities for industry-based best practice training and accreditation. Project objectives The project aims to overcome gaps in information and lack of resources for soil interpretation and management. It aims for better productivity, more efficient utilisation of soil, reduced input costs and ultimately a healthier, more sustainable soil profile increasing the productive life of the farm The project seeks to present information of a scale and diversity that has relevance to vegetable growers Australia-wide. Method The AUSVEG Soil Interpretation Ute Guide has been produced. It is a customised soil health manual that can travel in the tractor, truck or ute and contains the latest information for the vegetable industry in a format that is useable for all growers The guide is a pictorial reference for Australian vegetable growers, allowing them to interpret, manage and monitor the health of their soil The guide and its allied soil interpretation and management course, covers the soil types in each vegetable-growing region throughout Australia, and provides growers with an understanding of the soil management issues in their region The guide is integrated into the TAFE Certificate of Amenity Horticulture course and is supported by a national schedule of workshops. The Hon Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Peter McGauran launches the ute guide from the back of a ute & Natural ssntte Green Heritage ‘Trust Grains. Fsearch & Deva for sustainable farms Corporation The extension work connected with the guide comprises two activities: 1. A one-day in-field training course providing the grower with a visual demonstration of soil interpretation ~ how to measure, record, manage and monitor soil health 2. An intensive accredited course and training material (workbooks, record keeping protocols) that will give growers and agricultural students the opportunity of gaining certification Desired outcomes That vegetable growers and students are able to: ~ interpret soil characteristics - take the appropriate measures from soil test results improve soil health and sustainability. Achievements to date * Apilot release of the ute guide in 2007 saw an ‘overwhelming response from vegetable growers. © Over 8,500 copies of the Ute Guide have been distributed. © Growers are starting to make soil management decisions based on scientific evaluation instead of tial and error. What is left to do? Avnational course with a uniform and consistent approach will remave some of the inconsistencies in the management decisions made by growers with respect to land management. It will also provide growers undertaking the course with an opportunity to achieve certification for soil management, Ute Guide project leader Helena Whitman. Having the course recognised and registered under ‘the ANTA: Certificate of Amenity Horticulture will enable the next generation of growers, agronomists and soil specialists to be educated in the best management practices for improving soil health a message that they will take with them into future employment. The role of accredited service providers (eg. certified professional soil scientists) will be defined so that an ongoing supply of independent soil management advice to Australian vegetable growers is assured beyond the life of this project. Healthy Soils for Sustainable Farms Programme is a Natural Heritage Trust programme, which is managed by Land & Water Australia and supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation Land & Water Australia ‘86 Northbourne Avenue, Braddon ACT 2612 CT 2601 Level GPO Box 2182, Canberra Phone: +61 2 6263 6000 Web: Natural swim Heritage ‘Trust Development Corporation for sustainable farms