Shane Joyce knows his soils very well and so is able to tune into it very quickly. Whilst he does keep records and uses traditional soil tests, he finds that these simply verify what he already knows.
Helen Disler: Shane, one thing you talked about was measuring your yields. What were you doing to know that things were coming up okay? Like were you doing soil tests?
Shane Joyce: Yeah. Yeah, I do. I do soil tests. This is my soil testing tool is just a basically a pocket knife, which I go and dig into the soil and dig the soil up and then I get feel the texture of it. I smell it and see what plant roots are in it. You get an instant, you get an instant outcome. The other thing that I use in soil testing is a dowsing pendulum to find out what I need to be, if I need to be adding anything and what? As far as sending soil samples to a lab I did that at Dukes Plain. In the latter years there we established that we were up around five % organic matter across that place. The district average was somewhere between zero and one so we’re really lifted our soil organic matter levels with the management we’re doing. But yeah, how do I know that It’s going the right way with what with the management is the soil testing it with my pocket knife smelling it, feeling the texture of it, looking at the pasture species, looking at how the animals are doing and looking at the trees on the farm and the health of the trees.
So those are the probably the main – it’s just basically, a lot of it is just basically observation, but also yield recording. How many grazing days are we getting and we use what’s known as stock days per hectare per hundred millimetres of rain. So basically it’s a measure of how effectively we’re using our rainfall and how many animals were grazing for that rainfall. So on this farm when I’ve inspected this farm I took soil samples and sent them off to the Environmental Analysis Lab in Lismore, Southern Cross University, at Lismore and I just wanted to check that I wasn’t buying something that had some really massive deficiencies that basically, I didn’t want to become and start creating a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. So I wanted to know that it was reasonable and could work with me rather than end up with something that was unworkable.