Local farmers have started the year by soil testing every paddock to check nutrient levels, providing insight into what they will be able to grow once the rain comes in autumn. Are phosphorus levels optimum for good root growth and will pH levels allow the plant to access it? Is there enough potassium in the soil to grow strong, healthy pasture? Am I putting on fertiliser I don’t need?
Twenty one farmers have partnered with GeoCatch and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development this year for a comprehensive soil testing and nutrient mapping program that continues to be extremely popular since it began in 2009. Every paddock is tested with farmers receiving results via colour-coded maps to inform their decisions on this year’s fertiliser program.
For bigger farms, the fertiliser bill can be large, running into tens of thousands, as can the loss of production if pasture does not have adequate soil nutrition once the rain starts. Smaller farmers are keen to learn more about their soils and how to improve the land. All farmers on the program share a desire to create or maintain healthy farms that minimise impacts on local waterways.
Local farmer, Robyn Robertson, has previously been involved in soil testing with GeoCatch.
“We are privileged to be part of this fantastic soil test program,” she said.
“We are buying less fertiliser and are more targeted with where we spread it.
“Last autumn we fertilised with half of what was traditionally used and the paddocks are still showing the same productivity.”
In 2020, 319 paddocks will be sampled across 3000 hectares of sheep, beef and dairy farms in the Catchment. Soil testing is a critical part of fertiliser management and compliments a suite of other projects led by GeoCatch and the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program.
“Soil testing marks the start of another busy year of GeoCatch working with farmers, urban gardeners, the community and project partners to continue improving water quality in the wetlands and Geographe Bay,” said GeoCatch project officer Jenelle Schult.
“We already have farmers asking when the next round of soil testing opens.”
To register your interest for future soil testing or other sustainable agriculture projects, please contact Jenelle Schult on 9781 0111 or firstname.lastname@example.org