The latest round of the Geographe catchment soil testing program is now well underway, with soil testing being undertaken across 39 farms covering over 7200ha of farmland. As global fertiliser prices continue to increase, the program is critical not only in reducing nutrient input into our waterways, but also for farmers trying to save on fertiliser costs.
The program provides farmers with a wealth of resources and an increased understanding of one of their most important assets: their soil. All farmers involved receive whole-farm soil testing, colour-coded nutrient maps, plant tissue testing, and access to one-on-one Fertcare Accredited agronomic advice.
Since 2009 over 40% of agricultural land across the catchment has been soil tested, with a potential annual reduction of up to 4.8 tonnes of phosphorus entering the bay if farmers follow advice based on soil test results.
GeoCatch Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer Jenelle Schult says the soil testing program benefits both farmers and the environment. “By knowing what nutrients are in the soil, farmers can tailor their pasture management to individual paddocks. This helps them save money on fertiliser, improves farm productivity and reduces nutrients entering Geographe Bay”.
“Many farmers have been surprised to find they have adequate phosphorus levels across much of their farm and can divert their attention and dollars to addressing other nutrients limiting production,” said Jenelle.
The program is open to beef, dairy and sheep grazing enterprises in the Geographe catchment and is delivered by GeoCatch in partnership with Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
For more information on the soil testing program, visit estuaries.dwer.wa.gov.au/strategies/sustainable-agriculture/soil-testing/
Soil Wise is funded by the National Landcare Program Smart Farms Small Grants – an Australian Government initiative. This project is part of Healthy Estuaries WA and Revitalising Geographe Waterways. These State Government initiatives aim to support the long-term health of our south-west waterways.