A recent soil testing workshop brought together farmers from across the Geographe Bay Catchment to get a better handle on their soil nutrients.
Thirty-seven farmers were involved in this year’s soil testing program, with 20,000 soil samples collected across 670 paddocks.
Since 2009, 240 farmers have participated in soil testing in the Geographe Bay Catchment, with an estimated reduction of 4.8 tonnes of phosphorus entering Geographe Bay since the start of the program.
With beef and dairy grazing contributing the largest source of nutrients entering local waterways, working with farmers to improve fertiliser management is critical to the health of the Bay.
Local farmer Syd Dunstall and his son Joe run a sheep farm in Tutunup. Syd says that farmers are becoming more aware of the off farm impacts of excessive fertiliser application.
“Farmers are conscious of it because it’s costing them money if it’s going down the creek,” said Syd.
“Rather than waste fertiliser, we wanted to find out what the soil types were and what the soil needed to grow good crops.”
Soil testing is a critical first step in best practice fertiliser management. It provides farmers with vital information about what nutrients are in the soil and identifies any deficiencies that might impact pasture growth.
GeoCatch project officer Kim Archer says that soil testing supports farmers to shift away from traditional ‘blanket’ approaches to fertiliser application.
“Soil testing is an evidence-based approach to make better fertiliser decisions,” said Kim.
“This allows farmers to adapt their fertiliser application to target what is required, resulting in improved productivity and higher profit margin for the farmer, as well as reduced nutrient loss to waterways”.
“There is a huge opportunity to improve water quality if we can continue to work with our farmers to improve fertiliser application.”
Support for soil testing has been provided to Geographe farmers for the last 10 years, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), and GeoCatch.
The soil testing project is part of Royalties for Region’s Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways programs. These State Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west estuaries.
Farmers can register their interest for the next round of soil testing by contacting GeoCatch on 9781 0111 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.