Working together to optimise fertiliser use

Taking soil samples from paddocks

Farmer and fertiliser industry meetings were held in Busselton on Wednesday, 22 August 2018 to identify ways to optimise fertiliser use and reduce nutrient loss off farms.

Beef and dairy grazing producing properties are the biggest contributors of nutrients into Regional Estuaries Initiative estuaries, making farmers and the fertiliser industry critical partners to improving water quality.

“We met with four of our young, progressive farmers in the morning to learn more about how they make their fertiliser decisions,” Bree Brown from GeoCatch said.

“The farmers are keen to maximise pasture growth, particularly in short seasons like we have seen this year, but they are also keen to make sure their fertiliser stays on farm and doesn’t end up in our waterways.”

Soil testing, weather, price of feed, price of fertiliser and experience were all factors the farmers considered when making fertiliser decisions.

More than 150 farmers have signed up to part take in the soil testing program in 2018.

The afternoon meeting was held with representatives from the main fertiliser companies, Western Dairy and peak fertiliser body, Fertilizer Australia.

A major focus of the discussions was improving consistency with soil testing methodology and terminology.

“Improving consistency is critical to improving farmer confidence in soil testing results,” Jeff Kraak from Fertilizer Australia said.

“We need to ensure we are working to agreed standards so the whole industry is working at best practice”.

An outcome from the meeting was for Fertilizer Australia to lead the fine tuning of standards for soil sampling in pastures in south west WA.

“The member companies of Fertilizer Australia and the Australian Fertiliser Services Association are very aware of their environmental responsibilities and have developed the Fertcare program to provide training and improve the skills and knowledge of people working in the fertiliser industry,” Jeff said.

The Fertcare program aims to ensure high quality fertiliser advice is passed to farmers, allowing them to optimise productivity while minimising environmental and food safety risks.