The Gippsland Soil Trial and Demonstration Directory PDF Print E-mail

cover_stdThe Gippsland Soil Trial and Demonstration Directory is a part of the Healthy Soils - Sustainable Farms project funded by the Australian Government.

The objective of the directory is to collate and assess data from soil trials, demonstrations and studies across Gippsland and to build the evidence base around changes in soil in response to management actions.

There are two tables presented; the first is a collection of peer reviewed scientific papers that have been journal referenced. The second is a variety of information from farm trials, demonstrations and the experience of local agronomists.

The scope, objectives and scientific rigour of the trials vary dramatically: Trials have been assessed and scored by qualified research staff, using a science quality assessment (BAS) framework to give the reader an idea of their rigour. A summary document has been written that explains the BAS framework and gives some guidance to conducting a successful trial.

The findings and views expressed within the directory are those of the trial proponents. The intention of the WGCMA is to provide a repository of regional knowledge on soil that builds over time and assists farmers and service providers in making decisions on farm. If you have information that is relevant or wish to undertake a soil trial, please contact us.

Further information on soils can be found through WGCMA LandVictorian Resources Online, and CSIRO.

Click on the trial titles below to see further details about each trial.

Table 1



Peer reviewed, scientific literature


Trial dates


Lead organisations

2013 Limited potential for soil carbon accumulation using current cropping practices in Victoria, Australia DPI Victoria
Fiona Robertson
David Nash
In this study we used the RothC model to assess whether soil C accumulation under cropping using stubble retention and pasture rotations could be a significant offset for greenhouse gas emissions.
2012 Variability of phosphorus content in dry-land pasture surface soils of the Moe River catchment
in Gippsland, Victoria
DPI Victoria
David Rees, Anna Roberts
Topsoil phosphorus is an important driver of pasture productivity, but can also lead to nutrient losses from runoff. The aim of this research was to explore soil and land management interactions and phosphorus content for dry-land pasture topsoils in the Moe River catchment (Gippsland, Victoria).
2012 Phosphorus and Nitrogen changes in soil and soil water after cultivation DPI Victoria
Mark Watkins, David Nash
Cultivation is one way of lessening soil nutrient stratification, increasing P absorption, near the soil surface and potentially lowering P exports.
2012 Variability of soil physical properties of dairy farms in south eastern Australia DPI Victoria
Abdur Rab,
Sharon Aarons
Soil bulk density, porosity and water holding capacity are the most important soil physical properties which affect the establishment of pasture seedlings and pasture growth. The objectives of this research is to
(i) quantify the variability in soil physical properties; and
(ii) develop a sampling strategy for future monitoring of Victorian dairy soils.
2012 Sustainable management of nutrient returns in excreta on grazed dairy soils. DPI Victoria
Sharon Aarons
Nutrient recycling and deposition in dung and urine from grazing cows can contribute to the uneven distribution and accumulation of nutrients on dairy farms.
2012 Determining production gains from N,P,K inputs on Australian dairy farms DPI Victoria
Cameron Gourley
Sharon Aarons
This study investigated nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) whole-farm balances and existing soil nutrient levels on 41 contrasting dairy operations across Australia to see if there were opportunities to reduce or exclude fertiliser inputs.

Victorian Soil Carbon Project (VSCP) Initial Findings

DPI Victoria


Measure soil carbon stocks and composition - in pasture & cropping systems of Victoria - determine influence of management - in regions with varying climate and soil


East Gippsland Soil Carbon Pilot Project

Agribusiness East Gippsland Inc

Deparment of Primary Industries

The project provides baseline information on carbon levels under different land management types across East Gippsland. Trial sites will be determined using LUIM (land use impact model). Up to 15 trial pits have been established and 1000 soil samples tested. Baseline soil carbon data will be used to support investigation of the effects of soil carbon on sustainable farming.

1998-99 Factors affecting the change in extractable phosphorus following the application of phosphate fertilizer on pasture soils in Southern Victoria DNRE
Latrobe University
Research was conducted to assess how extractable phosphorus concentration response to P fertiliser application at various levels varies between different soil types
1998-99 Changes in bicarbonate-extractable phosphorus over time when P fertiliser was withheld or reapplied to pasture soils DNRE
Latrobe University
Research was conducted on nine sites with different soil types and phosphorus buffering capacities to assess how the effectiveness of P fertiliser application (expressed as the change in extractable phosphorus per unit of P applied) varied.
1997-98 Maintaining soil quality in grazed pastures DNRE A suite of indicators were assessed for use in monitoring short and long term changes in soil quality under grazed pastures. The project included 26 trial sites, of which 10 were located in Gippsland and provided data on soil chemistry, physical and biological properties and how they changed over time and with depth in the soil profile.
1996-97 BeefCheque fertiliser trial DNRE
Leo Hamilton Rural Consulting
Perform trials on 14 focus farms with phosphorous and potassium fertilisers assess pasture and animal production response. Investigate the role of calcium and boron deficiencies in sub clover seed set.
1994-95 Managing the root zone to increase pasture yields Agriculture Victoria This trial investigates the effect of modifying the physical and chemical properties of soil (including acidity and aluminium and manganese toxicity) on perennial pasture production and root distribution at two sites. A range of soil modification treatments were applied at different soil depths and monitored over two years.
1993 Soil pH changes under Victorian pastures Departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources Investigates how soil pH changes under long-term pastures of various types. pH of soils below over 100 grazed pastures was compared with that of nearby undisturbed (ungrazed and unfertilised) soils to assess the extent of change in soil pH across the profile..
1993 Changes in soil chemistry associated with changes in soil pH in Victorian pastures Departments of Agriculture and Conservation and Natural Resources To determine how the chemistry of pasture soils had changed since the development of pastures and how changes in soil pH were related to changes in C and N cycles. The study was based on over 100 pasture sites across Victoria.
1987-89 The effect of land management on the structure of intensively cropped soils in West Gippsland Department of Agriculture The project investigated the impact of land management on intensively cropped Krasnozem soils in West Gippsland. The effects of wheel traffic, deep ripping and green manure crops on soil structure and soil hydrology were determined.
Pre-1987 Review of experiments with nitrogen fertiliser on pastures in Victoria Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Results from about 600 trials investigating the effects of N fertiliser on Victorian pastures over the past 50 years have been collected and reviewed. This review sought to quantify the magnitude of pasture responses to fertiliser and interactions with various management treatments. The review considers a variety of effects of N fertilizers, including the influence of nitrogen fertilizers on soil acidity.
Undated Responses to lime and fertiliser trials Department of Agriculture A record of lime trials conducted over decades by Department of Agriculture agronomists. The document summarises pasture responses to lime and fertiliser use.

Table 2

Trials and demonstrations by a variety of organisations, agronomists, farmer groups and individuals


Trial dates


Lead organisations


2014-18 Using crops to improve Sodic Soil and increase productivity. Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network, WGCMA, Southern Farming Systems Mixed farming on a sodic soil can increase production, improve soil condition and be more profitable than perennial grazing under similar conditions.
2014-2018 Reducing Root Mat through stimulation of the carbon cycle. Bass Coast Landcare Network/ DEPI/ WGCMA The objective of this on-farm demonstration is to evaluate the effectiveness of compost and lime application’s ability to reinvigorate surface decomposition processes thereby reducing acid root mat constraints on pasture production.

Extended grazing and heavy lime application on saline land

Maffra and District Landcare Network, Forster Rural Consulting Determine the benefit of heavy lime application and extended grazing. The combination of actions are intended to alleviate salinity, improve pasture quality and carbon levels in soil.
2012-13 Soil structure and pasture improvement using soil biological cultures South Gippsland Landcare Network, David Hall, Petriks Biology™ Adding a culture of soil biology to pasture in combination with magnesium, lime, potash and sulphur will improve soil profile, pasture quality and dry matter yield to a greater level than magnesium, lime, potash and sulphur alone.

Soil Carbon through organic amendments on cropping in Gippsland

Southern Farming Systems, Gippsland Water

The use of organic amendments on Gippsland cropping soils will increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil and reduce the need for nitrogen application while maintaining or increasing production.

2012- 13 Aeration Pasture cropping and extended grazing trial Maffra and District Landcare Network, Forster Rural Consulting

To determine the benefit of soil aeration, pasture cropping and extended grazing. The combination of actions are intended to alleviate compaction, winter bogginess and summer feed gap, improve pasture quality and carbon levels in soil.   

2012/13 Improve Parramatta grass (Sporublis Africanus) dominated pasture

Maffra and District Landcare Network and Paul McClen -Forster Rural Consulting

To determine management actions that will change a paddock dominated by Parramatta grass (Sporobulus africanus) into one with preferred perennial grass species. The combination of actions is intended to improve pasture quality and soil carbon levels.
2011-2013 Soil biology and soil pH interaction project Macalister Demonstration Farm

Investigates management of soil biology in order to reduce fertiliser inputs while maintaining profitable pasture production. The project will: 

  • Compare pasture productivity and profitability between paddocks managed using a conventional fertiliser regime and the addition of lime to lift pH from 5.5 to 6.4. 
  • Monitor the soil microbial community associated at three different pH levels.
2012-2013 Park Dairy - seaweed demonstration
Bass Coast Landcare Network
The objective of this farm demonstration is to test seaweed and its effectiveness in a perennial dairy grazing system. The hypothesis is that the use of seaweed as a foliar spray will increase dry matter yield, nutrient levels in the pasture and fungal activity in the soil.
2010-11 Sustainability in small scale farms- a South Gippsland farm perspective Monash University The project sought to better understand how soil health indicators may be used to assess the sustainability of small scale farms. This analysis considered these indicators in the context of a permaculture and conventional farm setting. The primary research question was, can smallholding, natural systems farms be considered sustainable in terms of soil health?
2010- East Gippsland sustainable grazing systems pasture cropping trial Southern Farming Systems, East Gippsland CMA The project involves farm-based demonstrations in East Gippsland CMA region aimed at encouraging the adoption of pasture cropping to renovated degraded pastures, increase their perenniality and improve soil carbon.
2010-11 Linking and demonstrating soil health outcomes and management practices Bass Coast Landcare Network, Monash University Assess the performance of the rapid soil health assessment tool developed by BCLN. Soils from 40 farms and reference sites were analysed for a suite of physicochemical properties. These properties were assessed against BCLN's soil health assessment tool to test its robustness.
2010-11 Tarago soil biological health trial Neerim and District Landcare Group, Department of Primary Industries The trial was intended to test the effect of fertiliser use on pasture growth in a trial using conventional fertilisers and compost tea application. The trial was conducted in the Tarago water supply catchment and sought to find ways of maintaining production, while using less fertiliser and reducing fertiliser loading into the Tarago reservoir.
2007 Soil productivity with naturally occurring additives Red Gum Plains Soil Health Group The project’s objective was to increase beef/lamb production by 10% (or 10 kg live weight per hectare) on the Red Gum Plains of Gippsland by improving the biological activity of soils. The hypothesis was that improved biological activities would improve the productivity of soils, pastures and animals. The additives used in the trial included: poultry manure, brown coal, molasses and compost tea.
2003-11 Strzelecki sustainable and productive pastures project Hallston Landcare Group, South Gippsland Landcare Network The project sought to assess methods for replacing current drought affected pasture species with productive species that lead to better production outcomes and reduced environmental impacts. The project responded to the need to restore groundcover on north facing pasture land in the Strzelecki Ranges, following losses during the droughts of the 2000s.
Undated Agronomy consulting trial experience Soilwise Solutions The objective of farm trials is to get the soil into better condition so that it produces better quality feed from the applied fertiliser. Trials also seek to improve the soil structure. Over 20 years of trial experience has contributed to the formulation of a proven general approach that is adapted to each property.
2008-09 Summer pasture cropping and soil health demonstration site Bass Coast Landcare Network The trial was established to investigate alternative soil and crop management practices West Gippsland dairy farms to address declining soil and pasture health and summer feed gaps without the need for high nitrogen inputs.
2005-10 Judy and Peter Johnson - Test Strip Trial ON-FARM Consulting The trial used test strips and soil analysis to help develop a fertiliser program that contributes to profitable dairy farming operations. It considered dry matter production responses to fertiliser application, as well as long term soil health and sustainability issues.
2009-11 Kevin and Helen Jones Foster focus farm ON-FARM Consulting The trial was undertaken to assess pasture responses to fertiliser application, with the ultimate aim to increase dry matter production and inform decisions on profitability of lime and fertiliser use.
2006-11 Agrisolutions farm experience Gerhard Grasser Farm experience with the development of a biological system soil management system for a dairy farming and free range pork operation. The aim was to improve the performance and persistence of pastures and improve soil, plant and livestock health
2007 - ongoing Extended Grazing Trial Strathfieldsaye Estate

The height and density of grass correlates with the depth and mass of roots. When grasses are constantly short, roots are shallow and unable to withstand dry conditions. A plant continually grazed uses its energy to produce leaf; there is little energy left to grow deep roots, exude carbohydrates into the soil to support microbial populations and sequester carbon.

Extended rest and rotation of stock will:

- significantly reduce unpalatable weeds
- gradually increase ground cover  to 100% all year
- increase pasture species diversity
- increase the percentage of perennial species
- increase the carrying capacity in the long term

2007-10 Western Port Landcare Network: Healthy soils stock and pasture- analysing productivity and practices Western Port Landcare Network (WPLCN) Two major research sites and multiple farm demonstrate sites were established to provide farmers with an understanding of the impacts various fertilisers have on plant growth and various chemical, physical and biological soil characteristics. The trials tested conventional and a range of alternative fertiliser products.
2000-02 Sustainable Grazing Systems Buchan trial Cock Livestock, Sustainable Grazing Systems The trial was conducted to identify effective methods for renovating run-down pastures using pasture cropping.
1998-99 Demonstration trial of Sincocin and Agrispon on Potatoes in southern Australia Richard Jackson, agricultural consultant The trial sought to identify yield benefits of the trial of Sincocin (soil conditioner) and Agrispon (soil biostimulant) on Sebago potatoes. The soil conditioners were used to increase the availability and/or uptake of nutrients from fertilisers.











































Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2014 11:15