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Farmer stories of best practice celebrated

03 October, 2019

Local farmers who have made major changes to their fertiliser practices were celebrated at the Beyond Soil Testing sundowner hosted by GeoCatch. The stories of these farmers are being shared through an online video, which was launched at the event and focuses on the benefits of being strategic with fertiliser so nutrients stay on the farm and out of waterways.

The Fertiliser Best Practice project supported ten farmers in the Geographe Bay Catchment over three years, following whole-farm soil testing of their property. These farmers received additional soil and tissue testing and ongoing one-on-one advice from an agronomist to support decisions around fertiliser applications.

The project was delivered in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation as part of the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program.

Busselton beef farmer, Ross Prater, is a strong advocate for soil testing and the agronomic advice he received through the project. He has had a direct economic benefit in increased weight gain of his cattle as a result of improved fertiliser and pasture management.

“Being involved in the program has resulted in huge changes to the way I run my farm,” he said.

“Every decision around fertiliser applications is now based on science and results.

“I’m measuring my historic data against weight gains of my cattle and there’s been a significant improvement, about 20 to 25% increase in weight gains.”

GeoCatch Chair Felicity Bradshaw, opened the event and was proud of the changes made by the farmers and the continued partnerships GeoCatch fosters with local farmers and government agencies to improve water quality.

“The farmers supported though this project have shifted away from traditional practices of applying a blanket of phosphorus across the farm each year, to making decisions based on the soil nutrient requirements of individual paddocks,” she said.

“This has reduced phosphorus application by over 12 tonnes in three years and reduced potential run-off and leaching into local waterways.”

GeoCatch has worked with partners through the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program to provide soil testing opportunities to an additional 70 local farmers to improve fertiliser use efficiency, farm productivity and profitability.

The video is available to view on the GeoCatch YouTube channel and Facebook page. Additional resources, including written case studies, are available at geocatch.asn.au.