Soil improvement tactics unearthed to minimise frost damage

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Early trial results indicate soil amelioration as a possible strategy to minimise frost damage to crops on the Eyre Peninsula.

Delivered by AIR EP and EPAG Research, the ‘Tactics to minimise frost damage on the Eyre Peninsula’ project has yielded early valuable data to assist farmers with combating the seasonal burden of frost.

Two field sites were established at Tooligie Hill, selected after the location recorded 38 below 0C weather events in 2021.

The trials treated the two sites equally, one a ‘high frost risk’ sandy location and the other a ‘medium frost risk’ clay zone.

Early results are showing soil amelioration, in this case ripping to 50 centimetres deep, alongside the trial site is increasing canopy temperatures by up to 0.5C on frosty nights, and up to 1.5C in more severe cases, reducing fluctuations in temperature within the soil at depth.

EPAG Research researcher Rhaquelle Meiklejohn said while farmers had noticed less frost impacts in areas where they had undertaken soil amelioration, what they didn’t know was the level of impact on soil temperature.

“A 1.5C increase in temperature during a frost event can be difference between severe loss of yield and no damage at all,” Ms Meiklejohn said.

“So, where appropriate, some sort of soil amelioration activity may be the key in reducing the severity of yield loss.

“We still have more work to do in teasing out more details, but there is hope that something can be done to reduce frost risk in some areas.”

Other treatments included in the project were phenology (flowering at different times), mixing varieties, nutrition, different crop types, and varied times of sowing.

The site also had a ripped and rolled strip through the paddock, which ran along the end of the trials, to measure any effects of bringing clay to the surface on frost impact.

Demonstration sites were also established in high frost risk areas at Mt Hill, Mangalo and Warramboo, as a base for discussion group activities.

Mid North Frost Learning Centre advisor Mick Faulkner has been working with a project steering committee of local advisors, Michael Hind, Ed Hunt, George Pedler, Josh Hollitt, Andy Bates, Andrew Ware, to provide advice and facilitate discussion groups with local farmers.

Early results and research will be showcased at the upcoming Grain legume and Frost Field Day on September 14. Based at the Tooligie Pulse Hub Site, the field day is one of the biggest on AIR EP’s calendar, showcasing Grains Research and Development Corporation funded projects, and incorporating AIR EP’s Annual General Meeting.

For more information, visit the AIR EP website or contract AIR EP Executive Officer Naomi Scholz on 0428 540 670 or

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