Growers and people working in agribusiness who have ever yearned for computer access to Green Manure or Lime Calculators or just a down-to-earth look at soil properties in their region of WA need look no further.
Dr Daniel Murphy from the School of Earth and Geographical Sciences and Institute of Agriculture at The University of Western Australia (UWA) has launched a free interactive website designed with such clients in mind.
The site www.soilquality.org.au has won the Not for Profit category of the 2007 WA Web Awards, which recognise innovation and excellence in web design.
Jordan Brock of Spin Technologies developed the site in collaboration with UWA, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), the Grower Group Alliance (GGA) and agribusiness partners.
The comprehensive site offers drop-down menus with a feast of information about local catchments and the biological, chemical and physical properties of soils on a regional basis. To date, these data sets are from Western Australia but eastern state locations will be introduced in 2008.
Dr Murphy, in conjunction with Dr Frances Hoyle of DAFWA, is involved in a statewide soil sampling project which aims to test 13 different soil parameters to determine soil constraints to crop and pasture production.
“Collated data from the monitored sites is available on the website and provides statewide averages for public access, enabling growers to benchmark their soil health against existing data,” he said.
Dr Murphy advocates quality soil monitoring through improved education and hands-on support. There are newsletters, articles, events, calculators and satellite photos of soil areas that have been sampled.
Details of organisations supporting landcare and sustainable practices, as well as addresses of other ‘companion’ websites are also available. Factsheets offer topics as diverse as cereal cyst nematode, labile carbon, water repellency and seedbed soil systems.
Professor Kadambot Siddique 61 8 6488 7012 / 0411 155 396