Contrary to popular believe, the handover of soil survey information does not mean the job is done. It is only the first step to a sustainable land use and management program. The second step is to develop and implement a post-survey support plan to ensure that the necessary soil treatments are fully and correctly implemented, as handed-over information alone does not guarantee you success.
Thus, support plan is as important as a soil survey per se, because experience has shown that crop failure is more related to ignorance, misunderstanding, incompletion or incorrect application of soil survey recommendations than to all other cropping factors together. In addition:
- Some soils and/or segments of a soil will always respond readily to some treatments, others will not; some improvements will be immediate, some will occur gradually, and some will take many years before any progress is made
- Some soils may even respond adversely to certain treatments simply due to the application of ‘inappropriate practices’, whilst the same practices can be highly suitable for other soils or parts of a soil
- Current technology cannot see, describe, measure and present on a map everything that may exists below the soil surface, and there can always be some ‘hidden pockets’ that may benefit from additional treatments even if the proposed corrective measures have been fully implemented
Obviously, sustainable and profitable land use and management is not that simple. If, land users are unaware of such a situation, they invest heavily to only consistently produce low or alternating yields at a high running cost regardless of ample of fertilisers, expensive state of the art irrigation systems and fancy machinery that is already in place. In most cases, the problem for such a situation is not the irrigation system, fertilisers and machinery, but a luck of understanding of soil, inappropriate land preparation and poor management. However, nobody knows your soils better than your surveyor who should be there to:
- Explain what it all means
- Ensure that remedial work is fully and correctly implemented
- Ensure that irrigation system is designed to mach the soils
- Provide on-site education in soil literacy
- Provide on-site training in soil quality control and supervising contractors/subcontractors to takeover soil in good condition
- Provide early warnings of emerging management issues to make cost-effective and timely adjustments
A post-survey support plan is an ongoing commitment that is actually the simplest, easiest and cheapest way to get the job done by specification. It can save you lots of headache associated with crops failure, expensive experimentation, reremediation, reinstallation, replanting and bad publicity.