April 5, 2023

Don't look to the sky, look at the ground!

Droughts are a disaster that we Australians are far too familiar with. Scientists have suggested that the secret to drought resilience lies in the soil.

Droughts are a disaster that we Australians are far too familiar with. They cripple crop yields, expose soils to increased erosion by depleting organic matter, and force farmers to reduce livestock numbers. Research from the Soil Health Institute has indicated that one of our best tools to improve drought resilience might lie in the soil. With this in mind, let’s dive in. 

The surprising link between drought and soil

Droughts occur when a particular region experiences a shortage of water supply - where the amount of available water is insufficient to meet normal use. These natural disasters affect an estimated 55 million people worldwide and are particularly prevalent and intense in Australia, with a ‘severe’ drought affecting us every 18 years on average and recent droughts being possibly the worst experienced in the last 800 years.

While many look up to the sky when discussing droughts, we instead should look to the ground. When a drought occurs, the amount of available water in the soil is depleted, which has tremendous consequences on farms. If the amount of soil moisture is not depleted, then farms will not experience crop failures, soil erosion and other devastating consequences.

To make our farms more drought resilient, we need to focus on improving soil moisture.

So what can be done to improve soil moisture?

Well, soil moisture is controlled by three factors - the ability of the soil to absorb water, its ability to store water, and the speed at which the water is lost/used. The needle-movers of these three factors are sand, silt and clay proportions, collectively termed ‘soil structure’. 

An important factor in improving this soil structure is actually the amount of organic material in the soil, as it is needed for absorbing and storing water. The amount of organic material is characterised by the amount of soil carbon. So, 

Improving soil carbon = improving the soil’s ability to absorb and hold water. 

when a farm is in drought the soil carbon level is around 0.5-1%, meaning that one hectare of this soil can only hold about a quarter of a swimming pool when it rains - the rest of the rain does not penetrate the soil, washing away the topsoil and fertiliser. This means that paddock essentially ‘misses out’ on the rain when it comes. Increasing the soil carbon to 8% allows one hectare of soil to store more than three swimming pools of water. This is a huge difference and indicates how tremendous of a factor soil organic carbon is in making our farms more drought resistant.

So, the question then becomes: how can we increase the amount of organic matter in the soil?

Having high levels of soil carbon means that you’re unlikely to experience the extremes of droughts when they do hit. This is why increasing the amount of organic matter in soil is so critical. 

Organic matter, matters

Our Superfly fertiliser is made from 100% Black Soldier Fly frass - meaning it is 100% organic. Adding Superfly to your soil will increase the amount of soil organic carbon, enabling it to absorb and store more water. 

The benefits don’t stop there; Superfly is packed with beneficial microbes (240 million per gram, in fact!) which can deliver radical improvement to your soil health. We also offset carbon with every bulk bag and pillow bag of Superfly produced - 5 kg of CO2e per kg of Superfly, to be precise!

Thinking about drought resilience is not something you want to do when you see one coming - by then it’s too late. Get in touch with us today to discuss our Superfly fertiliser and its ability to improve your soil!

Raghav Sharma

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