Soil appraisal report
Soil Appraisal Report
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This paper provides an investigation of the soil characteristics of paddocks of land in Yean Yan farm on Melbourne Polytechnic. The findings are mainly physical and chemical characteristics of the soil that affects its ability to be used for crop and livestock farming. The outcomes of the survey are used to create a recommendation which is also illustrated in this paper. It was concluded that the paddocks have the potential to support plant growth and should be used for farming of most varieties of plants.
Capability assessment of a paddock of land is an important process in establishing the ability of the land for a given agricultural activity. For instance, it enables understanding whether the soil has a water holding capacity for growth of plants and whether the mineral composition if the soil is suitable for their growth. It also establishes the structure of soil particles and their size because these are attributes of the soil that determine whether it can be used for farming activities. This is because, if the right paddock is chosen, productivity is improved (Barker 12). The study involved the determination of the number, thickness, color and texture of various horizons. It also involved measuring the conductivity of the soil, emersion and dispersion of various layers of the paddock of Melbourne Polytechnic. The site and landforms that are considered for the development of the enterprises include Sprague 5&6 Dominic Gp 1-4, Paddock 21 & 22 Daniel-Gp 5-8, Paddock 15 & 16 Miao miao & Anan-Gp 17-20.
The aim of the study was to conduct a survey of Melbourne Polytechnic farm at Yan Yean by identifying various characteristics of the soil in each paddock and recording the outcome of the analysis. It involved cooperation between groups in a survey of the paddock. This was achieved by enhancing teamwork and note-taking. The resulting data was used to conduct a land-capability test for the assigned area. Basically, it involved conducting a survey and making a recommendations of the manner in which land use should be done based on the data collected.
The methodology involved during this study involved creating a vertical section through the soil in each paddock and taking samples of the soils whose characteristics such as PH, soil structure, sizes of particles, soli permeability, soil color, soil order, grain structures and types were determined. The results of various characteristics of the soil were recorded and analyzed, and a report of recommendations on land use based on the findings was made.
Figure 1. Soil Paddocks during the survey
Figure 2. Grain Structures of the Soil Investigated
Figure 3. Soil Paddocks in Yan Yean
From paddock 15, hole 1, it was found that the ground was high-slope and in horizon sequence A1, the PH was 4.5 while the texture was silty loamy. The soil color was 2.5 YR5/6 and the structure was 10-20 mm polyhedral peds. In sample A2, the PH was 5.5, and the texture was silty loamy, the soil color was 2.5 YR 4/6 and the structure was 10-20 mm polyhedral peds. Sample B was generally rocky.
Sample 2 was obtained from mid-slope of the paddock and was divided into A1, A2 and B. in sample A1 the horizon sequence was 150mm, PH was 5.5, and the soil texture was silty loamy. The soil color was 2.5 YR 5/6 while the structure was 10-20 polyhedral peds. In sample A2 the horizon sequence was 320, the PH was 7 and the soil texture was silty loamy. The soil color was 2.5 YR 6/6 and the soil structure was 10-20 polyhedral peds. In sample B, the soil sample was generally a rock.
Soil order is the process of identifying soil using particular dominant characteristic that affects soils in a particular environment such as prevailing vegetation (Alfisols, Mollisols) and the nature of parent material (Andisols, Vertisols) or climatic conditions of the environment (Andrisols) and the existence of permafrost (Gelisols). Soil order is also determined by the existence of weathering processes in a place such as (Oxisols or Ultisols).
Soil water-holding is the ability of the soil to retain the water and is determined by soil-texture and the quantity of organic matter. Soils containing smaller particles provide larger surface areas in comparison with those having larger particles. It was found that soils with particle sizes of 2mm and below had a higher water-holding capacity than those with particle sizes of 3 mm or greater.
Soil permeability is the property of the soil to allow the downward movement of water across its profile from the top sections to the bottom sections. In the study, it was found that soil samples with alluvium soils were less permeable compared with those having Pliocene and Pleistocene (2 mya) Basalt.
External drainage is the ability of the soil to allow the movement of water along the surface of the soil. In areas that were covered with vegetation, external drainage was low compared with those having lower vegetation cover.
Slope is the tangent of the angle that a horizontal line makes with the surface of the land. In the areas that had slopes of 3 and above, the rate of erosion was high while those with a slope below 2 had slower rate of erosion.
From the results obtained during soil study, it is predicted that erodability of the soil will be higher in soils with larger textures compared with those with smaller texture. Another factor that will enhance erodability is high slope, with the highest erodability being experienced in sections of the land with high slope. The propensity for soil structural degradation will be determined by human activities such as the use of chemicals during farming and the activities of microorganisms. Chemical constraints affecting the soil in the area where the study was conducted include the nature of the parent rock materials from which the soils originated and the level of microbial activities that affect soil characteristics. Chemical constraint will also include salinity which is the amount of dissolved salts in the water used to irrigate the land thus increasing the amount of salts in the soil. In addition, chemical constraint will be sodicity of the soil which is the amount of dissolved sodium in the water used for irrigation. This has the potential to affect soil structure and negatively affecting plants growth. The physical constraints that determined the characteristics of the soils included the size of particles that affected their water holding capacities and permeability.
It was recommended that the use of irrigation water should be regulated so that the top soil is not washed away with running water. There is also a disadvantage in the use of rain fed grass as pasture for livestock because it poses the threat of exposing the land to erosion that can affect the soil quality.
The land capability assessment provided shows that irrigated pasture provides an opportunity for providing additional feed for livestock and can be grown successfully due to the characteristics of the land that supports their growth. The paddocks that have low high PH and low permeability can be used for production of crops that under irrigation due to the water-holding capacity of the soil.
The existence of alluvial soil in the area provides suitable opportunities for the creation of vegetable farms. Thus, it is recommended that one of the crops to be grown in the area should be vegetables. However, the land should not be used for production of rice or any crop that requires constant supply of water due to the possibility of rain scarcity and the potential to cause drying up of the plants. The soil appraisal shows that the soil order is mainly Vertisols which is less effective in creating a suitable condition for growth of water-intensive crops.
This paper provides an appraisal of the soil in Yan Yean in Melbourne Polytechnic by investigating the characteristics of the soils in various paddocks and profiles such as grain sizes, soil structures, PH, soil order and the permeability of the soil. When the appraisal of the soil characteristics had been completed, the paper presented the recommendations such as regulation of irrigation and reduced dependence on rain fed grass to be used for grazing livestock because it has the potential of enhancing soil erosion. It was also recommended that crops such as vegetables should be grown but those that require high amounts of water such as rice should not be grown.
Barker, Fiona, Robert Faggian, and Andrew J. Hamilton. «A history of wastewater irrigation in Melbourne, Australia.» Journal of Water Sustainability1.2 (2011): 31-50.