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Fertiliser Management

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The Fertiliser Best Practice project (2016 – 2019) worked with farmers to decrease environmental impact from fertiliser use while increasing economic efficiency and production.

The program promotes soil and tissue testing to maximise fertiliser use efficiency by matching the nutrient needs of the soil to production targets on the farm. The program aims to improve water quality in the Geographe Bay Catchment by reducing export of nutrients off farming land.

Eighty farmers have participated in the program, which included comprehensive whole-farm soil testing on every paddock, with testing for phosphorus (P), potassium (K), pH, sulphur and phosphorus buffering index (PBI). To assist farmers to easily identify where deficiencies occurred of where nutrients were sufficient, soil test results were displayed on colour-coded nutrient maps. Farmers attended an annual workshop to assist with interpreting their test results and could access agronomic support to assist with fertiliser planning. Ten farms were selected and supported as case studies to identify whether extra support helped farmers implement changes to their fertiliser use.

Achievements
  • Engaged 80 farmers in testing over 10,000 hectares of land sampled across the Geographe Catchment over the four years.
  • Four workshops held in conjunction with local agronomists and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) staff to share expertise and information in plant nutrition, agronomy and fertiliser management.
  • Ten farms supported as case study farms with additional tetsign and agronomic support resulting in a 45% decline in phosphorous use with no impact on production.
Funding and Partnerships

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

Project Future
  • Follow up surveys and evaluation to determine if there has been a behaviour change towards best practice fertiliser management.
  • GeoCatch continues to promote best practice fertiliser management through two new partnership projects with DWER: uPtake project (farm phosphorous response trials) 2018-2022; and Revitalising Geographe Waterways 2 (nutrient management projects).
More information