Running an intensive soil extension program in 2020

Central Tablelands Local Land Services will be running an intensive soil extension program in 2020. The Diggine Deeper program aims to increase farmers’ understanding of soils and the processes driving productivity and to provide them with knowledge and tools to make decisions and implement change to address soil issues and improve soil condition.

This project is supported by Central Tablelands Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and will cover: soils and how they function; soil nutrients on-farm; how different farm practices affect soil health and fertility; soil tests – how to read them with confidence and assess your soil health in the paddock; monitoring, identifying and mapping soil types across your property; identifying soil constraints such as low organic matter, pH, soil salinity and compaction; setting benchmarks for your soils and taking effective action to address issues; and biofertilisers, fertilisers, soil amendments and the range of fertility input options.

Participating businesses will also have the opportunity to have a comprehensive soil test performed and the results interpreted, obtain professional advice, education and mentoring and get to know other local farming businesses who are interested in improving soil health.

The program will be facilitated by Agricultural Ecologist, David Hardwick, assisted by Central Tablelands LLS staff and specialists.

The Digging Deeper intensive soil extension program is open to farmers within the Central Tablelands region who are running an enterprise, from any industry, on 10 hectares or more.

Numbers for the project are strictly limited to 12 farming businesses. To be eligible to participate each interested business is required to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and attend six soil health sessions in 2020 at a cost of $90. Tentative dates are: 10 February, 9 March, 6 April, 11 May, and 15 June with the final dates chosen by the group in February. Each session will involve a theoretical segment and a practical segment out in the paddock.

EOIs for the program are open and will close at midnight on Friday, 13 December 2019. To submit an EOI visit: EOIs will be assessed on set criteria. If a high number of applications are received, applicants may be asked further questions to assist with evaluation. Successful applicants will be notified in early January 2020.

For more information contact Liz Davis, Central Tablelands Local Land Services Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator on 0427 452 662 or by email:

Tiny ecosystem engineers

A single cow produces around 18 kg of manure each day. For a herd of 100 cows, that’s over 650 tonnes each year. That’s a lot of fertiliser!

Dung left on the soil surface releases nutrients and carbon to the atmosphere, through oxidation, or they are washed away and end up in waterways. Not only are beneficial nutrients lost but they become pollutants in the air and water. The amount of pasture available to grazing livestock is also reduced, as cattle will not eat grass growing near a cow pat.

Dung beetles can make a significant contribution to reducing these problems. By shredding and burying dung, they incorporate nutrients and carbon into the soil and stop losses to waterways and the atmosphere. Dung burial also means that more pasture is available for grazing and life cycles of internal parasites and flies are broken.

Dung beetle activity also has other benefits. The tunnels created by dung beetles improve the aeration, water permeability and water holding capacity of soils. Their activity also increases other biological activity (micro-organisms and earthworms), improves soil fertility and structure through mixing of clay sub-soils which results in stronger root growth and higher yields.

These benefits were recognised over half a century ago when the CSIRO launched its dung beetle project in 1968. The project aimed to introduce a range of dung beetle species into Australia, so that cattle dung would be shredded or buried within 48 hours in all of Australia’s climatic zones. Each dung beetle species is active for only a part of the year, so a range of species is required for activity over the full season.

Due to funding cuts the project was discontinued in 1984 with only around 50 of the proposed 150 species introduced by that stage. Of these, around 23 have established but do not cover the full extent of their predicted distribution ranges.

The Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers (DBEE) project is aiming to fill this gap. The five-year project, supported by MLA through funding from the Australian Government’s Rural Research & Development for Profit program, will fill seasonal and geographic gaps in the distribution of beetles across southern Australia as well as quantifying the benefits dung beetles provide for primary producers.

The DBEE project will conduct a nation-wide survey of dung beetles, import and breed three novel Mediterranean species and two endemic species and determining the economic value of dung beetles for sheep and beef producers as well as the understanding of the impact dung beetles have on the ecosystem.

For more information about the project visit their website:

Watershed Landcare would like to gauge interest for being involved in the project in our region. If you are interested in finding out more about dung beetles or doing a dung beetle survey on your property let us know:

Watershed Landcare AGM

Watershed Landcare will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Friday, 22 November.

We would like to invite all Watershed Landcare members and any interested members of the community to attend. The meeting will provide an overview of Watershed’s activities over the past year as well as an opportunity to mingle and chat at the dinner afterwards.

Are you interested in the role regenerative agriculture has to play in ensuring increased production of healthy food, as well as long term sustainability and resilience of our farm land and ecosystems?

Our guest speaker will be Dr Peter Ampt, consultant in ecological and regenerative agriculture, natural resource management, extension and rural development. Dr Ampt will talk about the role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon foot print, including recent research indicating that appropriate crop and grazing management can facilitate soil carbon sequestration and improve ecosystem services such as soil nutrient cycling, soil stability, water infiltration, biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

We are also seeking interested members to be involved in the Management Committee for the next 12 months. The committee meets the first Wednesday of the month at 5:30pm.

Watershed Landcare continues to have strong support from our members, sponsors and partners and Landcare membership remains strong and enthusiastic. We’re actively seeking funding from various sources to continue to deliver training, workshops, seminars, field days, on-ground works and projects to protect and enhance the environment and sustainability of our region.

Want to find out more about Watershed Landcare, our projects and how you can get involved in this enthusiastic, grass roots community group? Come along for a fun evening and meet other Watershed Landcare members.

The AGM will be held on Friday, 22 November at the Straw Bale Shed at the Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC), 6pm for a 6:30pm start. Dinner will be provided at the conclusion of the meeting.

All are welcome to attend the Watershed Landcare AGM. This event is free, but please RSVP by Wednesday, 20 November for catering purposes to Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or