Fullerton/Hadley Landcare-Unearthing The Secrets of the Soil

When Geoff Minchin from the Lachlan CMA put out an expression of interest to the Upper Lachlan Catchment to host a soil biology workshop with the Department of Primary Industries, Fullerton/Hadley Landcare Group jumped at the opportunity to host the event. Landcarer’s, Anne Mitchell and Lee Hancock, quickly organised a list of keen participants interested in attending the workshop which they managed to fill in no time at all  and it soon became apparent that a second workshop would have to be arranged.

Kempton Hall was the venue for the first workshop and 23 budding soil biologists got an opportunity to take a very close look at what lies beneath our feet in the hidden world of soil.

The workshop which is run by the Department of Primary Industries is designed to provide participants with an introduction to the contribution of soil organisms to soil health and to look at  land management strategies needed to maintain and increase soil biological health using laboratory and in the field techniques.

With the use of microscopes, magnifying glasses, and more simply hands and noses, DPI staff Paula Charnock and Dave O’Donnell showed the Landcarers that healthy soils are dynamic living system  teeming with life. “There are potentially more individual organisms in a teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth.” Ms Charnock said

“Most of the organisms that live in the soil are beneficial micro-organisms such as fungi, bacteria, protozoa, and nematodes that make up a complex web of interrelationships. The collective term for all of these organisms is the ‘soil food web’.”

“The interactions amongst these organisms can provide plants with many of the requirements that they need to survive and flourish which includes the availability & retention of nutrients, disease suppression, and the building of soil structure.” Ms Charnock explained.

Hadley resident, Geoff Shearsby enjoyed the workshop. “Our microscope work on our soils was most interesting and rewarding. Our lecturers for the day prepared us well for the laboratory study using plenty of functioning microscopes. These included both stereo (3D) and transmission microscopes. We were in awe of what we saw; interpretations coming thick and fast from our teachers.” Mr Shearsby said.

Upper Lachlan Landcare had recently purchased 5 digital microscopes for Landcare Groups in the Upper Lachlan Catchment through funding from the Lachlan CMA. The workshop was a great opportunity for the group to learn how to use the microscopes which proved to be very practical and easy to use. Fullerton Hadley Landcare group will have two microscopes that any of the participants who attended the workshop or other Landcare members are welcome to borrow. Contact Nerida Croker for details, nerida@upperlachlanlandcare.org.au

Fullerton/Hadley Landcare Group are a successfully active Landcare group who pay attention to the social side of their activities particularly the food. The rustic Kempton Hall kitchen was no challenge for the resourceful Landcare caterers, Anne and Lee who prepared a wholesome feast for the participants.

“The hot lunch cooked by our Landcare Ladies helped make the day not only informative but highly enjoyable.”Mr Shearsby said.

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