Cowra workshop August 2016

Soils – what are they telling me?

The second SKN training workshop for soil professionals ran in Cowra in the NSW Central Tablelands in August 2016.

The group was diverse and participants had a wide range of experience. Many of the participants were locals, but there were also people who travelled from the Riverina, the South Coast and the North Coast to join us.

Day 1 began with the results from the content survey and what everyone wanted to learn.  We started with some theory on the most popular topics which turned out to be –

  • 003-cropSoil organic matter and soil organic carbon
  • Soil acidity
  • How and why soils change across landscapes
  • How to find soil information (eSPADE, soil and geology maps)
  • Soil health
  • Simplifying soils for extension
  • Major soil nutrients

Soils in the fieldThen we headed into the field to learn how to describe a soil and to think about why a soil is like it is.  We broke up into small groups and there were great discussions about soil types and what different soil characteristics means for fertility and erosion.

We were back on the bus for Day 2 and we headed to a local farm to talk about soil structure, compaction and infiltration.  We compared a natural soil to one which had been intensively farmed for many generations and discussed the differences we saw.

Afterwards, we went through the workshop folder and all the handouts and how to use them.  Then we wrapped up with a wide ranging and free flowing discussion.


We interviewed two of the participants who came along and asked them what they thought about the workshop.  Why did they decide to come along? Did we deliver what they were looking for? What was most valuable ? and lastly, what is their key message about soils?

Hear what Amanda Britton from South East Local Land Services, had to say and on re-connecting with soil professionals.

Hear what Kel Langfield from North Coast Local Land Services, said about the two days and why he drove all the way from Lismore to join us in Cowra.


We asked everyone that came along what they thought about the workshop.  Here is some of what they said –

“Great access to knowledge of many years of research.  Respect the openness of members and their commitment to sharing”

“Thanks to all at SKN for a fantastic workshop.  Great to meet some new people, catch up with old friends and learn more about soils”

“Always good to have presenters that always know the answer with no pause, or umming/ahhing!”

“The workshop was fantastic.  A lot of knowledge shared between the presenters, it’s fantastic to be able to tap into this.  Thanks to all for organisation and delivery”

“The workshop was a great idea.  As an agronomist it is good to see how to look after the soil”

“Obviously a large knowledge bank and was good to ask a lot of questions”

Learning is a two-way street and we got lots out of this workshop too.  We are improving as we go and there were lots of suggestions for future content including –

  • “Mark Conyers needs to do YouTube videos x 10”
  • “Soil biology, chemicals and soil health”
  • “Fertilisers and impacts on soils”
  • “A stage 2 course to further develop and challenge our knowledge”
  • “Erosion control”

Keeping your hands dirty is important – so join us at a workshop or field day soon.