Black Cracking Clays

Meringandan,  family farm backyard, Darling Downs

photo byShelley Purser,Meringandan, edited by Jeanie Clark Warracknabeal (cc)  2015 Description fine black clay topsoil
Location: sloping ground in urban food garden
Values for this soil:  
– retains moisture well, so some plants grow really well in it
– growing some healthy vegetables (i.e. family farming for our needs) 
– support for our house structure

Challenges of black cracking clay soils for a home garden (are the same as for a farm here):  qld-sp-chalcracking-clayycomp
– prone to erosion,
– and expansion and contraction (causing cracks)
– When wet – sticky and slimy
– When dry, forms hard clumps like rock, so moisture is harder for plants to access
– frequent movement of the soil can lead to our house shifting 
Managed by
– the addition of compost,
– keeping good ground cover
– manage water drainage of our property by:
   vegetables grow in raised garden beds
  and directing the flow of the sometimes heavy rain

See more about how this soil is used at its family farm snapshot “Settling Farmlet at Highfields”  and in LN Post or a larger scale use of similar black soils for irrigated vegetables at the Gatton Research station in the Lockyer Valley, Queensland, Australia
or  the use of the Wimmera black soils on a farm near Jeparit, Australia in Food from a heavy black soil.

Credits: Shelley Purser, of Meringandan, gives permission for her photos and information to be used under a (cc) license 2015 .  Editing and page created by Jeanie Clark, enviroed4all®, Warracknabeal, for use in education under a (cc) licence 2015

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page set up 13 June 2015, updated 8 January 2016