Nutrient run-off from agricultural land represents the largest source of nutrients entering estuaries in south-west catchments. Excess nutrients entering waterways from fertiliser and effluent reduces water quality, and this can lead to algal blooms, low oxygen and fish deaths. The Regional Estuaries Initiative will work with catchment and industry groups and farmers to reduce the nutrient run-off from farms. This strategy will focus on two key areas – fertiliser management and dairy effluent management.
Soil testing opportunity – Expression of Interest period now open!
Grazing farmers across the South West of Western Australia are being encouraged to take part in a whole farm soil testing program designed to support farmers make better fertiliser decisions.
The program involves soil testing, pasture tissue testing, nutrient mapping, farmer workshops and individual agronomic advice.
Farmers who were involved in this program in 2016/17 are eligible for further assistance including tissue testing, farmer workshop and individual agronomic advice.
Expression of Interest period closes 26 August 2017. Places are limited so register now to avoid missing out.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development estimates that farmers in Western Australia apply around $400 million per year of phosphorus in excess of the amounts required for desired productivity. Getting fertiliser management right on farms will benefit both farmer’s productivity and water quality in our estuaries.
The Sustainable Agriculture strategy will work with farmers to optimise fertiliser use by providing incentives for soil testing, nutrient mapping and agronomic advice for up to 400 properties. These programs will support farmers to make informed fertiliser decisions so fertilisers and profits stay on the farm.
Dairy Australia Fert$mart plans will also be rolled out to up to 40 properties, targeting fertiliser management specifically for dairy farms.
Dairy effluent management
Good effluent management on dairy farms is constructive on and off the farm. Benefits include money saved on fertiliser, improved soil condition and moisture retention due to organic matter, reduced nutrient losses from farms and productivity gains.
The Regional Estuaries Initiative will work with farmers, industry and catchment groups to promote best practice in dairy effluent management. It will review dairy effluent systems in and develop best practice management plans. In partnership with dairy farmers, 20 priority effluent systems will be upgraded.
These programs will reduce the amount of nutrients entering waterways, leading to improved estuarine health and long-term sustainability of the dairy industry in Western Australia.
Transitioning dairy farms to best practice through self-regulation will work best with the keen involvement and leadership of industry representatives. DairyCare will be led by Western Dairy in partnership with catchment groups, dairy farmers and State government agencies to reduce nutrient loss off dairy farms and improve water quality of regional estuaries. DairyCare will be supported with over $2.5 million funding from the Royalties for Regions programs Regional Estuaries Initiative and Revitalising Geographe Waterways.
- provide farmers with information and tools to make better fertiliser decisions
- support upgrades to dairy effluent systems
- investigate innovative options for improving dairy effluent management
- build industry capacity to lead and deliver better outcomes for dairy farms
- seek partnerships with other industry groups, such as milk companies, to explore opportunities for quality assurance programs linked to nutrient management.