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What lies beneath: USQ leads national soil research

The University of Southern Queensland is getting its hands dirty to help farmers improve their soil.

University of Southern Queensland Professor of Soil Science and Agrimetrics, John Bennett, will lead a new research project that aims to support Australian farmers manage their soil to increase access to soil water.

The “Assessing Soil Water Storage” project is one of 12 new research projects announced as successfully gaining funding support from the Soil CRC.

Professor Bennett said the project aimed to quantify how the diagnosis and management of soil constraints could change soil water attributes such as infiltration, storage, drainage and crop interaction.

“In a climate where every millimetre of water storage is invaluable, the project will allow greater precision in crop planning and production, as well as help understand how management might increase or decrease the water available,” Professor Bennett said.

“The project will report on mechanisms influencing the variability and dynamic of soil water storage and access. The main outcome will be the development of a protocol to develop pragmatic and data driven on-farm models, rather than seeking an ubiquitous predictive model based on global data.”

Professor Bennett said it was hoped that this project would pave the way for a bigger investment into understanding the soil water dynamic.

“For our grower groups involved in the project, it will allow greater planning of on-farm decisions – the whole intent is to lower risk.,” he said.

“If we can demonstrate that here, then we can start improving on it and rolling it out through the remainder of the Soil CRC lifetime.”

The USQ-led project will be undertaken in collaboration with Federation University Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Central West Farming Systems, FarmLink and Riverine Plains Inc.

The Soil CRC is funded by the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program and by its 40 participant organisations, including eight universities, four state agencies, eight industry organisations and twenty farmer groups

researcher standing in farm with equipment
University of Southern Queensland Professor of Soil Science and Agrimetrics, John Bennett.