Grant Bennett, right, manager of Jean Paul Prunetti’s farm just down the road has also used the Soilkee machinery and said the results had been impressive. He said applications of fertiliser had worked in the past, but five years down the track “it had to be repeated again”. “Initially we looked at the deep lines where the machinery had gone through, but what has been most impressive has been what we’ve seen between the tines - we’re seeing more species, stronger, lush grass.”

Grant Bennett, right, manager of Jean Paul Prunetti’s farm just down the road has also used the Soilkee machinery and said the results had been impressive. He said applications of fertiliser had worked in the past, but five years down the track “it had to be repeated again”. “Initially we looked at the deep lines where the machinery had gone through, but what has been most impressive has been what we’ve seen between the tines – we’re seeing more species, stronger, lush grass.”

Yanakie’s David Layton inspects an example of where acid mat has been displaced on the Batten-Buckley farm in Buffalo. D091816.

Yanakie’s David Layton inspects an example of where acid mat has been displaced on the Batten-Buckley farm in Buffalo. D091816.

Meat and Wool Service Agriculture Victoria Regional Manager Nick Dudley and Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms Project Coordinator Tony Gardner discuss the results of the trial at Ross Batten and Madeline Buckley’s farm. D101816.

Meat and Wool Service Agriculture Victoria Regional Manager Nick Dudley and Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms Project Coordinator Tony Gardner discuss the results of the trial at Ross Batten and Madeline Buckley’s farm. D101816.

Chris Aleson talks farmers through the pH levels at the Buffalo trial site, and how it can be extrapolated out for similar soils in the region. D111816.

Chris Aleson talks farmers through the pH levels at the Buffalo trial site, and how it can be extrapolated out for similar soils in the region. D111816.

ROSS Batten and Madeline Buckley’s Buffalo beef farm pasture is predominantly rye grass, white clover and some strawberry clover.
Bent grass has also become established and created an extensive mat over a number of paddocks.
The bent grass mat contains high levels of nutrients and carbon, but it is locked up in the root system giving limited benefit to regrowth.
Ironically, the bent grass mat protects the paddocks over winter and allows stock access.
However, in summer and dry seasons, pasture growth rates are low and applications of fertilisers work well for three to five years, but then the mat takes over again.
Renovation over where the mat has taken hold is a focus.
A soil renovator machine, the Soilkee, which was developed in South Gippsland, was used over the paddock in April 2015 and October 2015.
Last week the Batten Buckley farm was open for inspections to see if and how the soil has improved.
Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms Project Coordinator Tony Gardner from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority talked guests through the results.
In January 2016 after 20mm of rain Tony said the paddocks were greener, plants were bigger and looked healthier, and there was more rye grass evident.
Tony said the Soilkee aerated the paddock, buried litter, top-dressed and drilled seed into the rows while minimising pasture disturbance.
He said interim results were promising.
“There has been a response from the Soilkee renovator in comparison to control and spike aerator.
“The response after limited summer rain was impressive but it has been a very harsh spring/summer/autumn.
“Lime has lifted the pH, but not shown any other major difference to date.
“… We are waiting for the autumn break to look at feed quality.”
More studies into the pasture trial, further testing and over-sowing are planned in 2016/17 and the site will be monitored until 2018.
More information is available through Landcare, or through the WGCMA webpage, www.wgcma.vic.gov.au and following the links to Gippsland Soil Trials and Demonstrations.