Recent developments in soil analysis are helping both cane farmers and horticulturists alike. An increasing number of EM 38 machines are now in operation in the coastal zones of Queensland and this will be of particular interest to landholders who have soil types exhibiting salinity, sodicity or imperfect drainage issues.
An EM 38 device uses electromagnetic transmitters and receivers to read the conductivity of sub-soil layers. The device can be towed by a quad bike and is capable of mapping many hectares per day. Once the data is “truthed” by soil core analysis, areas of differing soil type (clay or sand) or electrical conductivity (high Ec or low Ec) can be identified. This allows targeted responses and ensures investment in remedial work is highly cost effective.
Drain Tech recently designed and installed a drainage system for Windhum Farms at Bundaberg. The farm comprised of generally excellent free draining red soil but in the lower slopes the clay subsoil came closer to the surface and was causing water logging problems. An EM 38 survey was undertaken and it accurately identified the boundaries of the various soil types. This greatly assisted the placement of drainage pipes for maximum effect and the targeted response optimised the drainage investment. Drain Tech director Richard Gloyne is excited by the opportunities that this technology offers. “By effectively X-raying the soil we can be way more pro-active than re-active to water-logging issues. Traditionally we have used the evidence of water at surface level to guide our design. Now we can confidently identify the causes and precisely place our sub-surface drains for maximum effect and the highest cost benefit.”
Image EC Map
There are several consultants offering this EM 38 mapping and analysis service and some Cane Productivity groups are setting up to offer the service. Contact Richard at Drain Tech for the latest news on this front.