SoilKee Renovator – Soil Pasture Demonstration

The SoilKee Renovator, Soil Pasture Demonstration Trial took place on a South Gippsland property between 2015 and 2018. The trial was managed by the South Gippsland Landcare Network and supported by the WGCMA Healthy Soils Program. 

On this page you’ll find data related to the trial as well as other content developed since 2018 that features the SoilKee Renovator, inventor Neils Olsen and broader discussion around regenerative agriculture. 

The trial site was on a beef property in Buffalo, South Gippsland characterised by grey loamy soils and with average rainfall of around 600mm. 

Pastures consisted of rye grass, white clover and some strawberry clover. 

Bent grass was also present and root mat was also a problem in some paddocks with resultant reduction in production. 

Historically landholder practice was stock movement based on conditions, growth rates and utilisation. 

The property had shelter belts on most paddocks and grazing occurred at the 2-3 leaf stage when possible. 

Cows were moved into smaller mobs for calving with rotations slowed during this period. 

Lime was applied periodically, and an s-tine cultivator also employed to break up the root mat when needed. 

 

TRIAL SITE DESIGN

SoilKee seed germination
Soilkee seed germination

Other content featuring SoilKee

Gippslandscapes Podcast – Episode 16 June 2020

Part one of the Panel Discussion at the Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture Conference in June 2019.

Panel members included Jenn Ribolli from Perry Bridge, Sandra Jefford from Clydebank and Neils Olsen from Hallora.

Part two of the presentation at the Managing Climate Risk in Agriculture Conference June 2019.

The presentation opened up to a Q&A session, between the audience and the panel members.

Clean Energy Regulator video (2021)

A short video from the CER featuring the SoilKee initiative and the potential for farmers to receive income for carbon credits under the Emissions Reduction Fund.

More information at cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/ERF

Measurements

Estimated DMY kg/ha and % Perennial Rye and Clover graph updated June 2018
Soilkee graph Crude Protein and Digestibility
Metabolisable Energy and Neutral Detergent Fibre graph
Predicted liveweight gain

Summary of results: May 2018

  • SoilKee strips showed improved species, response to rainfall, pasture quality preferential grazing and dry matter yield
  • clover was bigger, worm castings evident and soil was spongier underfoot
  • Soil tests showed increase across all available nutrients, cation exchange, pH, cal/mag ratio and decrease in exchangeable aluminium.
  • Deep soil cores showed a massive increase in soil carbon and reduction in bulk density.
  • initial response from sowing seed was poor, but worked well on 3rd and 4th run
  • pastures regressed slightly in areas that were not treated in 2017, but were still better than control.

Photo essay of trial 2015-2018

Soil Test results May 2018

Methods

Measurements taken by Jenny O’Sullivan (Consultant – Linking food, agriculture and people)

Dry Matter Yield

Measured with Pro-graze pasture height stick, 20 times in each plot and verified with visual assessment.

Pasture species %

Species % taken with one metre square, with assessment inside that, 4 assessments in each area.

Pasture quality

Ten gloved handfuls cut with scissors to grazing height on each plot, bulked and sent to AgriFood Technology for accredited feed test. 1 bag for each treatment.

GrazFeed

Evaluation undertaken by Lisa Warn Consulting

This is a presentation of historical data. Those interested are encouraged to do further personal research before embarking on a course of action.

The Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms project is supported by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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Agriculture Victoria logo
WGCMA colour logo
South Gippsland Landcare Network logo

Page updated March 2021

Comments will be posted at our discretion. We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or individuals), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated. We also won’t post comments attempting to deliberately disrupt discussions. Please be courteous and respectful.

Findings and views expressed in the Gippsland Soil Trials and Demonstrations pages are those of the proponents. The scope, objectives and scientific rigour of the information varies greatly. The intention is to provide a repository of information that facilitates discussion.

16 thoughts on “SoilKee Renovator – Soil Pasture Demonstration

  1. Hi there, this looks extremely interesting and I’d love to try on my central victorian property. If my calcs are correct the cost (according to Niels comment below) is Soilkee/Ha $173.00
    Standard Winter seed mix @30kg/Ha $ 41.70
    (Winter seed mix: Peas, oats, barley, rye corn) = @$215/Ha. How much extra if with lime? How frequently is the suggested application and at what time of year? Our average rainfall is about 550mm/year.

  2. Hi. I have been reading about Soilkee and have just watched Landline where it was featured. We are looking at regenerative agriculture and multi species pasture sewing with a view to using no chemical and increasing the health of our soil. Our plan was for no till seed sewing but the Soilkee seems to create more soil disturbance than some of the people we know who practise regen ag use. It all gets confusing. So do you contract out Soilkee and what sort of seed mix would you use or can we create our own. We are in Gippsland, Woodside North. What would the costs be approximately to renovate and sew around 50 acres? We run beef cattle and have de stocked because of th drought but want to grow better pasture for feed.

  3. hi neils olsen,
    saw you on landline this week (september 2019)… what sort of costs would we be looking at in 2019 and with our current drought conditions in east gippsland what sort of results could we expect or work for…
    How much area would you look at doing per paddock… 10 paddock around 20acres each

  4. Hey, I’m currently writing from Israel.
    In the data presented, I saw that the annual precipitation is 600mm.
    Our grazing areas are in the 200mm belt. Do you have any info of experiments/trails in such dryer areas?
    Thanks in advance, Eyal Benevet

    1. Hi Eyal, This machine has been used in our lower rainfall country which averages 400mm but has been in drought conditions for the last 18 months. Without rainfall, the results as you might expect have been limited. The key to this machines success might be attributed to burying organic residue in an aerated environment, with limited disturbance of the pasture, setting off a biological decomposition process and stimulating nutrient release and plant growth. Timing this approach with such limited rainfall would be critical, if it were to work at all. Some of our more successful demonstrations in dry country can be attributed to marrying stocking rate to carrying capacity and careful planned grazing, also known as regenerative ag, holistic grazing management and other names. Please read this case study https://www.wgcma.vic.gov.au/for-landholders/gippsland-soil-trials/dryland-grazing-in-gippsland for more info.

  5. Hi I’m wondering if this tech would be available to other producer groups throughout Vic to test under different seasonal and soil conditions/types/water profiles etc? Thanks Helen

    1. Hi Helen, I encourage you to get in contact with Neils Olsen from SoilKee. I have seen the machine operate under various conditions, soil types etc and think the more testing it gets under different conditions the better. It certainly shows promise. I know they have taken it to South Australia and NSW.

  6. Hi Patrick,
    Soilkee/Ha $173.00
    Standard Winter seed mix @30kg/Ha $ 41.70
    (Winter seed mix: Peas, oats, barley, rye corn
    @$1.39/kg)
    Additional seeds can be added along with this mix Aeration being part of the Soilkee action.

  7. Hi Patrick, The Olsen P is interesting. You are spot on with your assessment. We are working very hard with farmers in this region to use the science in relation to Olsen P levels and spend money more wisely if levels are above 25. Even 14 to 18 is sufficient in a beef grazing operation depending on stocking rate. It is also interesting that the Olsen P levels jumped dramatically in the SoilKee plots. It is a claim of the manufacturer that P levels will increase if the machine is used. This is obviously something to watch. I will ask Neils to answer your first 2 questions.

  8. Hello Tony,
    I am wondering if you have some financial data on cost per ha for using the soilkee renovator alone, soilkee renovator plus seed and for aeration.

    I recently purchased Tetila for around $5 per kg, but how many kgs did you sow per hectare?

    I am wondering why the Olsen P values are so high for the demonstration paddock? Maybe they are not considered high by dairy farm standards but I note the Phosphorus for Dairy Farms project run by Cameron Gouley suggests a maximum Olsen P of 25mg/kg.

  9. Hi Mal, we stopped rating the rigour of our case studies and now put them into categories. This is not peer reviewed and is considered a demonstration rather than a “trial’. Having said that we have done the best we can to ensure the measurements and results published are backed by some defensible data. We have not done cost benefit, but the Grazfeed results of weight gain give some indication. The machine costs $180/ ha to contract.

  10. This looks so impressive. Love to give it a go in Central Victoria. How might I go about it?

  11. Great looking results, it will be interesting to discuss with the group. Has the trial been put on the CMA site, and at what trial rigger scale? Have you done anything on cost/benefit?

  12. Thanks Ron, it depends upon what criteria you base it on. Cost benefit, DMY, soil test results etc. I don’t believe there is enough data to make that assessment. The SoilKee plus lime has a better pH, that might show longer term positive results. The SoilKee had an impact on quality and quantity of feed but we did not determine any difference between lime and no lime with that measure. We do not have enough data to determine cost benefit.

  13. Tony,

    It appears that the Siolkee + lime had the best overall response, do you agree and, if so, do you have a rationale for that?

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