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On‐Ground extension of soil information to improve land management

Packer, Ian J., Chapman, Greg A., Lawrie, John W.
Soil use and management 2019 v.35 no.1 pp. 75-84
databases, education programs, government agencies, land degradation, land management, nutrient management, soil management, soil pH, soil sodicity
The NSW Soil Knowledge Network (SKN) is a small group of senior ex‐government soil scientists concerned that more needs to be done to improve soil management and stem land degradation with on‐ground extension and training workshops. Widespread attendance and positive feedback from SKN training courses and workshops indicate their extension success and confirm a strong demand for practical independent soil management advice aided by government‐based databases to enhance on‐site workshops. We argue that effective soil knowledge transfer requires interaction and discussion between soil scientists and land managers. This can bridge the gap between data and useful knowledge about soil and land management. The workshop format, where specific soil management issues of specific interest, such as soil acidity, nutrient management or soil sodicity, are discussed between land managers and soil scientists, has been a useful approach. A major concern is that soil scientists with knowledge and practical experience are getting older and fewer in number but few replacements are being appointed in private or government agencies. Also, despite soil electronic data and information being freely available, many land managers and advisors have difficulties accessing and translating soil data into relevant land management decisions. Dialogue with SKN members helps solve this problem because of their hands‐on and face‐to‐face approach with their audiences. The combination of data with effective soil knowledge transfer is successfully exhibited at SKN workshops for advisory groups and the ‘pits and kits’ field days as shown in the paper.