WHAT IS IT?
If we understood more about soil – and how to improve soil health – trees and plants would grow better, erosion would be reduced, water would stay where it falls, storm water would be purified, and maintenance money would be saved on fertilisers and plant replacement.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
A simple soil-testing kit that helps green space creators better understand their unique soil requirements.
Research is conducted to marry tree and plant suppliers so that soil types are grouped into categories and species that will grow in these conditions are matched.
Results are uploaded to a website and you are told which species to plant (see Solution #1 previously in this chapter), based on the unique soil conditions and/or how to improve soil quality. If your soil requires more nutrients, you are told where to access compost resources from council or what supplements – such as sand, clay, sawdust, or lime – to ask for at your local nursery.
FIRST STEPS TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN MAY INCLUDE:
- Engage Regional and/or Local Government associations to see whether their members are interested.
- Cost out a ‘group-buy’ of soil tester kits.
- Seek out major garden centre retailer partners as an added distribution mechanism.
- Scope existing soil databases.
- Identify funding opportunities and grants to develop research that can inform the platform.
- Scope the building of the platform, distribution channels and collation of samples.
- Socialise among councils, landscapers and residents.
WHY IT’S USEFUL
- Focuses efforts on understanding soil before attempts are made to improve it.
- Saves time and money on fertiliser.
- Increases and encourages soil education.
The New NPK (Nutrient, Physical structure, and Key biology) approach to soil health adopted by Tree Preservation Australia. Project: Adelaide City Council Veale Gardens Plant Health Care Project.
WHAT PEOPLE SAID
"Currently the Australian Institute of Horticulture and the Horticulture Media Association provide pH tests at most garden shows and all reputable garden centres provide these tests, more could be done to promote these services.
Simple soil tests can be done by sedimentation in a beaker of water – layering out into sand, silt, clay and organic matter, or rolling moistened soils into balls and worms – techniques that can readily be taught.
Regarding further tests, the kits can be quite expensive.
Kits can cost from $300 (for partial tests) to over $1,000 for various, major and minor elements and the indicators often have a short life. I teach using many of these products and would certainly like to see the public have access to this kind of material. I suggest these tests be at major venues such as state-based garden shows."Arno John King, Horticulturalist/Landscape Architect, Queensland.
"If you plant it and it dies they will not come"Tori Li, University of Melbourne, 202020 Vision Tour.
BACKED BY TOUR CONTRIBUTORS:
Leanne Gillies, Flemming’s Nurseries, VIC. Marcia Webster-Mannison, QLD. John Daly, QLD. Tori Li, University of Melbourne, VIC. Leanne Muffett, Strategic Matters, VIC. Claire Lombardi, City West Water, VIC. Gerhard Grasser, Tree Preservation Society, VIC. Matthew Daniel, Tree Preservation Society, VIC. Meaghan Flower, Landscaping Victoria, Vic. Darrell James, TC Advantage, NSW. VIC Bijl, City of Belmont, WA. Rachel Hornsby, City of Kingston, VIC. Anthony Kimpton, University of Queensland, QLD. David Low, The Weeds Network, VIC. Chris Ferreira, The Forever Project, WA. Paul Lucas, UQ, QLD. Rob Didcoe, DSR, WA. Grant Dalwood, NGIA, SA. Sharolyn Anderson, University of SA, SA. Erin Harrison, EMRC, WA. Amalie Wright, Landscapology, QLD. Denise Anderson, Local Government, NSW.