The Soil Wealth ICP team has been busy setting up a new network of demonstration sites around the country for the next five years. This will include 10 vegetable sites, aligned with VegNET regions, and four melon sites.

We’re excited to share an update on two confirmed vegetable demonstration sites in Victoria’s south-east and Gippsland: Skye (Butler Market Gardens) and Tarwin (Schreurs & Sons).

Skye: Giving more “oomph” to sandy loam soils south-east of Melbourne

Soil Wealth ICP team members Camilla Humphries and Jed Clark were in the field this week taking soil samples at our Skye demonstration site in Melbourne’s south-east.

The team will work closely with growers Rick Butler and Dale Creed from Butler Market Gardens to improve the health and structure of the site’s sandy loam soils.

Cover crops will be trialled to address key issues for the site including soil-borne disease pressures and increasing competition from weeds.

It is hoped the trial will:

  • Increase productivity and profitability of the farm’s Asian brassica, spring onion, parsley and coriander crops
  • Increase nutrient availability to cash crops
  • Reducing the amount of synthetic fertiliser inputs to provide a natural source of nitrogen
  • Complement the farm’s current compost program.

The trial will get underway in October 2023 with a summer cover crop.

L-R: Camilla Humphries and Jed Clark taking soil samples at the Skye demonstration site in south-east Melbourne.

Tarwin: Maintaining soil carbon in celery, spinach and leek production systems

Schreurs & Sons hosted our Koo Wee Rup demonstration site from 2018-2022 and recently expanded their growing operations to Tarwin in Gippsland.

The new Tarwin demonstration site will align closely with our ‘carbon and climate’ theme as it looks to maintain soil organic carbon at the property, which is gradually being converted from pasture for cattle grazing to vegetable production (predominately celery, spinach and leek).

Soil Wealth ICP team members Camilla Humphries and Carl Larsen will work with growers Adam Schreurs and Greg Hall from Schreurs & Sons, with support from agronomist Stuart Grigg. The site will use a combination of compost, green cover crops and minimum tillage to improve soil structure (organic matter), nitrogen and phosphorus while out-competing weeds.

A winter cover crop will be sown in the coming weeks using minimum till practices, ahead of celery and spinach plantings and cultivation.

Stay tuned for further updates!

Pre-bed forming at the new demonstration site at Tarwin, Gippsland.