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Soil samples has been collected form Daliak, located in Avon Valley in Perth. The place has a Mediterranean type of climate thereby, agriculture is highly dependent on the winter rain. Williams 100 and Williams Lupins are the two paddocks selected to. analyze the characteristics of the soil.

There are three parts to the report comprising


a) a complete soil assessment for the York paddock,


b) a  written report outlining the status of the York paddock in terms of interpretation of the soil data to determine soil properties, general soil health, constraints to production and your recommendations for that paddock and


c) complete a comparison to another site of your choice that is used for agricultural or horticultural production (can be Australian or International).

Soil Sampling Methods and Sites

Soil sampling is of utmost significance in order to know about the various properties of the soil that indicates whether the nature of the soil is suitable for farming. The soil sample has been collected from Daliak farm, 10 km away from York in Avon Valley of Perth. The climate of the region is dry thereby, farming and agriculture is mainly dependent on winter or annual rainfall ("Daliak weather - local weather forecast", 2017). Along with sheep farming, cereal crops are cultivated in the area. The two sampling sites were 100 acre and Lupins paddock in order to determine the high and low yielding areas. The soil sampling of the selected area has been conducted to evaluate properties such as the type of the soil, color of the soil, pH, bulk density and electrical conductivity thereby, determining the high or low yielding area for crops.

Williams Lupins and Williams 100 are the two sites of soil sampling from the paddock. The high and low yielding areas has been selected for further studying the properties of the areas.

The location of high yielding area was at the South East with an elevation of 309 masl towards the North. The soil analysis was conducted in order to know the pH, soil water repellency, soil type, soil bulk density and the color of the soil. Analysis of the above-mentioned properties will provide an opportunity for the framers to decide the suitability of the area for agriculture.

Type of the soil:

The soil had moist, loamy and clayey texture thereby, having high tendency of absorbing water. The soil also consisted of fibrous roots of the plants that extended up to 9 cm below the soil. The moist and high water absorbance nature of the soil makes it suitable of crop growth.

The color of the soil has been evaluated by using charts such as Munsell soil color chart. The chart determined the color of the soil to be HUE of 5YR having a value of 3. The soil also has dark brown color categorized as chroma 4 of the dark brown shade.

The pH of the high yielding area was 5.58, that is, acidic in nature. Acidic nature of the soil helps the roots to be less exposed to toxic materials such as aluminum.

The electrical conductivity of the high yielding area of the soil values 208.95us. This signifies presence of high concentration of salt in the soil.

High Yielding Area Characteristics

The bulk density of the high yielding area of the soil was measured to be 1.5 g/cm3.

The soil in the low yielding area was different from that of the high yielding area. The soil in the low yielding area contained less moisture. Moreover, the texture of the soil in this portion was less loamy and was sandier compared to the type of the soil in high yielding area. Furthermore, the soil had higher tendency of repelling water. This may be because of the sandy nature of the soil. The capability of sand to retain water is less. Therefore, the water repellent nature has been noticed in low yielding area.  

The color of the soil has been detected by Munsell soil color chart that showed that the color of the soil was HUE 10YR with a value of 5. The soil had light brown shade of chroma 2.

The pH of the soil in low yielding area has been recorded as 6.49, that is, acidic. However, the nature of the soil is inclined more towards been neutral.

The low yielding area of the soil had the electrical conductivity of 268.3us. This signifies presence of high concentration of salt.

The low yielding area had the bulk density of 1.4 g/cm3.

Soil Health of the high yielding area:

The nature of the soil in the high yielding area is suitable for the growth of cereal crops (White, 2013). The nature of the soil suggests being moist and having water absorbance. The texture of the soil is loamy and clayey. Therefore, the loamy and clayey nature of the soil ensures high rate of water absorbance thereby, making it suitable for agriculture (Reid, 2013). The color of the soil has been confirmed to be dark brown that suggests high concentration of organic matter within the soil (Kononova, 2013).

Presence of high amount of organic matter suggests increased cation exchange capacity of the soil. Therefore, the soil has high capacity of retaining nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium (DeLuca etal., 2015). Growths of plants are highly favored by presence of nutrients in the soil. The increased ability of the soil to retain nutrients facilitates high growth of crops. The acidic pH of the soil indicates the nutrient availability of the soil, growth of the plant and microbial growth. The most significant factor of soil fertility management is to maintain the pH level of the soil. The acidic nature of the soil allows the nutrients to be more soluble. As a result, up taking of nutrients for the plants becomes easier. Moreover, acidic nature of the soil reduces the probability of microbial growth thereby, reducing the chances of microbial infection in the roots of the plants (DeForest et al., 2012).

Low Yielding Area Characteristics

The bulk density of the soil indicates the dry weight of the soil per unit volume. The bulk density affects the porosity of the soil thereby, affecting the strength of the soil. If the nature of the soil is porous, the ability of the soil to retain crops is less. Therefore, less the porosity of the soil more is the strength of the soil. The bulk density of the high yielding area suggests high soil strength in that area (Hillel, 2013).

One of limitation of crop production in the high yielding area is the pH of the area. The pH of the area is 5.58 that indicate more acidic nature of the soil. High acidic nature of the soil solubilizes the nutrients to the extent that the nature of the nutrients becomes toxic thereby, making it harmful for the crops. Another limitation is the lack of water due to the dry climate of the region.

In order to maintain the proper acidic nature of the soil, the soil needs to be treated with lime. This will make the acidic nature of the soil appropriate for crop production by prohibiting the nature of the nutrients to be toxic. Moreover, rain or winter water needs to be harvested and used for crop cultivation throughout the year.

The texture of the soil of the low yielding area has the ability to contain less moisture. Moreover, the nature of the soil is more sandy rather than been clayey. Due to the sandy nature of the soil of the low yielding area, the soil is unable to retain much water (Gabarrron-Galeote et al., 2013). As a result, the soil is more water repellant thereby, making it dry and unsuitable for crop production. Lack of water or moisture in the soil makes the area low yielding area for crop cultivation (Falkenmark, 2013).

The soil color of the low yielding area has been confirmed to be light brown where chroma indicates the intensity of the color. The light brown color of the area indicates that the soil contains less organic matter. This suggests that the soil lacks nutrients that are essential for the growth of the plants. Moreover, light brown color of the soil also suggests that the soil possess less moisture content (Schaetzl & Thompson, 2015). The presence of water makes the appearance of the soil color darker compared to the present soil color of the low yielding area.

Suitability of High Yielding Area for Agriculture

The pH of the soil of the low yielding area is also 6.49, that is, acidic. The most suitable pH for growth of plants ranges between 5.5 - 6.5 (Singh et al., 2014). Having a suitable pH signifies the nutrients are available for the plants by making the nutrients soluble. Therefore, availability of suitable nutrients for the plants enables the growth of the plants. The electrical conductivity of the soil indicates structure of the soil, water potential and the soil aggregation (Heil & Schmidhalter, 2012). The electrical conductivity of the low yielding area is measured to be 268.3us that is higher than the electrical conductivity of the high yielding area.

As mentioned by Peralta & Costa (2012), high electrical conductivity signifies the presence of high concentration of exchangeable sodium as well as high nitrogen based fertilizer thereby, reducing the permeability of the soil. Therefore, this makes the soil unsuitable for crop production. The bulk density of the soil is found to be 1.4 g/cm3 thereby, indicating the strength and porosity of the soil.

The two main limitations of the low yielding area is the nature of the soil and the high electrical conductivity of the soil. The sandy nature of the soil lowers the water retention capacity of the soil. Therefore, the nature of the soil in the low yielding area is more water repellant. Growths of crops are hampered due to inadequate water. Another drawback of the soil in the low yielding area is high electrical conductivity. High electrical conductivity affects pH, water retention capacity and salt concentrations of the soil. The presence of adequate amount of water results in increased electrical conductivity of the soil.

The soil of the low yielding area has to be supplied with adequate and sufficient amount of water. More clay can be added to the soil thereby, enhancing the water retention capacity of the soil. This can be done by excessive irrigation that will result in leaching. This will help in making the soil well drained thereby, reducing the concentration of soil.

Tasmania is another country in Australia that actively takes part in agriculture. The main agricultural products of Tasmania are cereals, grains, oilseeds and legumes. The climatic condition of Tasmania differs from that of Daliak of Perth. Tasmania has a cool and moderate climate with four distinctive seasons. Moreover, Tasmania receives considerable amount of rainfall that facilitates agriculture. Tasmania consists of different types of soils due to variations in the geology, climate and landscape. The types of soils found in Tasmania are clayey, sandy and loamy.

Limitations of High Yielding Area for Crop Production

The clayey and loamy texture of the soil helps in retaining the water more efficiently that helps in agriculture. Due to this, the water absorbance capacity of the soil has increased. However, certain places also have sandy texture in the soil making the soil water repellant as sand lacks the capacity of water retention. The color of the soil in Tasmania is red or reddish brown indicating presence of higher concentration of organic matter. The reddish- brown color of the soil is mainly due to presence of iron in the form of iron oxides. Presence of higher concentration of organic matter signifies an increased capacity of ion exchange of the soil ("Tasmania", 2017). The pH of the soil ranges between 5.5 - 6.5 thereby, making it favorable for agriculture. Moreover, the electrical conductivity of the soil is measured comparatively higher thereby, making the soil unsuitable for agriculture. High salt concentrations results in presence of higher nitrogen based fertilizer causing low permeability.

The major limitation of the soil of Tasmania is the high electrical conductivity. The electrical conductivity of the soil affects the pH, water-retaining capacity of the soil, salt concentration of the soil and the topsoil. Excessive amount of soil makes the mature of the saline resulting making the organic matters excessively soluble. Excessive soluble nature of the organic matter makes them highly toxic thereby, making the soil harmful for agricultural purpose. Moreover, the sandy nature of the soil restricts the availability of the nutrients for the plants. The nutrients remains closely bonded with the soil due to lack of moisture. As a result, the plants are unable to up take the nutrients.

In order to carry out agriculture effectively in the soils, it needs to be managed appropriately. The electrical conductivity of the soil needs to be reduced to enhance the properties of the soil. In order to reduce the electrical conductivity, excessive leaching is a suitable option. Excessive leaching will favor leaching thereby, reducing the salt concentration in the soil. This will prevent in damaging the roots thereby, facilitating the growth of the plants. Moreover, clay can be added to the soils having more of sandy texture. This will enable the moisture retaining property of the soil thereby, reducing salinity.

Conclusion

In this report, it can be concluded that the nature and the properties of the soil highly influences agriculture and production of crops. From the results of the samples of the soil concludes the properties essential for the production of crops. The clayey and loamy nature of the soil enhances moisture retention property thereby, giving a dark-brown color of the soil. Moreover, the dark-brown color also signifies presence of high organic matters. The pH of both high and low yielding area ranges between 5.5-6.5, thereby, making it favorable for agriculture. However, the electrical conductivity of the high yielding area is comparatively less than that of the low yielding area. One of the primary reasons of making that area unsuitable for agriculture is high electrical conductivity. Therefore, electrical conductivity needs to be reduced by conducting excessive irrigation or mixture of clay.

References

Daliak weather - local weather forecast. (2017). Weatherzone.com.au. Retrieved 22 April 2017, from https://www.weatherzone.com.au/wa/central-wheatbelt/daliak 

DeForest, J. L., Smemo, K. A., Burke, D. J., Elliott, H. L., & Becker, J. C. (2012). Soil microbial responses to elevated phosphorus and pH in acidic temperate deciduous forests. Biogeochemistry, 109(1-3), 189-202.

DeLuca, T. H., Gundale, M. J., MacKenzie, M. D., & Jones, D. L. (2015). Biochar effects on soil nutrient transformations. Biochar for environmental management: science, technology and implementation, 2, 421-454.

Falkenmark, M. (2013). Growing water scarcity in agriculture: future challenge to global water security. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 371(2002), 20120410.

Gabarrón-Galeote, M. A., Martínez-Murillo, J. F., Quesada, M. A., & Ruiz-Sinoga, J. D. (2013). Seasonal changes in the soil hydrological and erosive response depending on aspect, vegetation type and soil water repellency in different Mediterranean microenvironments. Solid Earth, 4(2), 497.

Heil, K., & Schmidhalter, U. (2012). Characterisation of soil texture variability using the apparent soil electrical conductivity at a highly variable site. Computers & Geosciences, 39, 98-110.

Hillel, D. (2013). Introduction to soil physics. Academic press.

Kononova, M. M. (2013). Soil organic matter: Its nature, its role in soil formation and in soil fertility. Elsevier.

Peralta, N. R., & Costa, J. L. (2013). Delineation of management zones with soil apparent electrical conductivity to improve nutrient management. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 99, 218-226.

Reid, R. L. (Ed.). (2013). The manual of Australian agriculture. Elsevier.

Schaetzl, R. J., & Thompson, M. L. (2015). Soils. Cambridge University Press.

Singh, A., Shahid, M., Srivastava, M., Pandey, S., Sharma, A., & Kumar, V. (2014). Optimal physical parameters for growth of Trichoderma species at varying pH, temperature and agitation. Virol Mycol, 3(1), 1-7.

Tasmania. (2017). Soilscienceaustralia.com.au. Retrieved 22 April 2017, from https://www.soilscienceaustralia.com.au/branches/tasmania.

White, R. E. (2013). Principles and practice of soil science: the soil as a natural resource. John Wiley & Sons.

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