Geographe beef farmer Ross Prater believes soil testing is critical for all farmers. Ross signed up for GeoCatch’s soil testing program in 2016 hoping to learn more about soils on his 96 hectare beef farm. He was thrilled to find that he could change his fertiliser to match what his soils actually needed, saving money and boosting pasture growth while reducing nutrient loss off farm.
The soil testing program provides farmers with soil testing, whole of farm colour nutrient maps and access to agronomic advice.
“Through soil testing every paddock, I found my phosphorous levels were OK but I needed potassium in some areas and a plan to raise my low pH paddocks” said Ross.
Soil testing is an important tool to help farmers make informed decision on their fertiliser use. Improving fertiliser use has been a key focus of GeoCatch to keep nutrients on farm and out of waterways, saving farmers money and improving water quality.
“I was able to change my fertiliser order after I received my soil test results, so I was only putting on the nutrients I needed” said Ross”. “I will continue to tissue test to make sure I’ve got it right or adjust my fertiliser accordingly in spring”.
Nearly half of the grazing land in the Geographe catchment has been soil tested through programs led by GeoCatch and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
“We have had a great response from farmers wanting to participate in the soil testing program” said GeoCatch Project Officer Bree Brown. “Farmers are keen to improve their nutrient efficiency and also do their bit to improve water quality”.
Water quality trends are showing that farmers are making a difference with nutrient levels declining across many Geographe waterways.
“It is really exciting that our fertiliser and soil testing project work with farmers is starting to pay off” said Bree. “We are looking forward to working with new farmers this year”.
Local farmers can now register their interest for a place in this year’s soil testing program through the GeoCatch website at www.geocatch.asn.au/funding-opportunities/fertiliser-management or by calling Peta Richards, development officer at Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, on 9777 0144.
The soil testing program is delivered by GeoCatch in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and is part of the broader Revitalising Geographe Waterways program.