The Serpentine Jarrahdale Food and Farm Alliance Inc. (SJFFA) obtained a State Natural resource Management grant in early 2019 that permitted us to recruit five (5) Serpentine Jarrahdale farmers who all have properties on the coastal plain to see if we could use a non-synthetic amendment to improve soil carbon levels.

We were also very grateful that C-Wise, a local compost production company, donated compost that we could apply to selected plots of land on each property. A range of soil tests were made in April, the compost was applied in May/June and the soil was re-tested in September. Plant tissue analysis was also done in September to see if there was a measurable difference in the nutrient value of the pasture after the application of the compost.

Each farmer made 3 lots: a control lot that received no compost and 2 other lots that received different amounts of compost.

The big take-aways were that there was a discernible difference in available carbon in the soil even in such a short period of time, there were detectable minor improvements in plant nutrient status and a very measurable improvement in water infiltration rate. This means that water can soak into the soil better, will decrease water run-off and decrease standing water levels by making soils more permeable.

Overall, the results were very promising and indicate that a reliance on synthetic fertilisers is not necessary. There is promise here for further study and experimentation to enable a better understanding for use of carbon dense amendments for coastal plain soils. Our farmers learned a lot and have grown in confidence to enable further study and experimentation.

Our thanks are extended to the State Natural Resource Management grant to allow the SJFFA and our volunteer farmers to participate in this interesting study.

For more information about the Serpentine Jarrahdale Food and Farm Alliance, go to; https://www.sjfoodandfarmalliance.com.au/