Expressions of interest are now open for the latest round of the fertiliser management program through Healthy Estuaries WA.
Successful applicants will join more than 1,300 farmers working to improve the health of our waterways and estuaries while increasing farm productivity and profitability. The program is open to beef, dairy and sheep grazing enterprises with at least 40 hectares of cleared, arable land.
The fertiliser management program is a partnership between Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC), the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
Participants receive soil testing of their whole farm, training in how to complete their own soil testing and advice from an agronomist to develop a fertiliser plan.
By testing soils, farmers can tailor their fertiliser management and apply only what they need. This helps nutrients stay on the farm and prevents excess fertiliser washing into waterways – where it fuels algal growth and can contribute to fish kills.
Dr Deborah Holtham, Sustainable Agriculture Project Coordinator with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) said, “It’s not just about improving the health of our waterways – it’s also about working together to improve farmers’ profitability and knowledge of their farming system,” Dr Holtham said.
Previous participants have reported savings on fertiliser costs of up to $10,000 per year. “Using an evidence-based approach to fertiliser management based on soil testing has enabled more cost-effective fertiliser strategies compared with traditional approaches.”
Farmers are offered two soil sampling approaches: do-it-yourself or sampled for you. The two options allow the program to be tailored to meet the needs of the farmer.
Dr Holtham said do-it-yourself sampling is an opportunity for farmers to get hands-on. This option also makes sure the farmers’ expertise informs the sampling and fertiliser management plans.
“Farmers understand their paddocks better than anyone. They know where stock like to gather, and can plan sampling to make sure the results are as accurate as possible,” Dr Holtham said.
“By collecting their own soil samples, previous participants have appreciated learning about how soil types change across their properties.”
“Farmers who have up to 15 paddocks and live on or near their property would likely benefit from sampling their property themselves. Those with a larger number of paddocks or who don’t live near their property may prefer to have samples collected for them.”
West Pinjarra farmer, James Maasdorp participated in the fertiliser management program in 2021 and said it was a great learning tool to maximise efficiency and eliminate guesswork.
“Unless you have a scientific background, there is no better way to understand what your farm requires. The program helped expand my knowledge of farming, soils and plants, and I now understand how the needs of individual paddocks may vary,” Mr Maasdorp said.
PHCC Chair, Caroline Knight said “PHCC is proud to be a part of this practical partnership that benefits our farming community as well as our incredible waterways that support life and livelihoods in our region”.
Expressions of interest for this year’s program are open until Sunday 19 June 2022 and can be submitted at https://estuaries.dwer.wa.gov.au/
This program is a part of Healthy Estuaries WA – a State Government Royalties for Regions program that aims to improve the health of our South West estuaries.
For more information contact Megan LeRoy, Healthy Farms & Habitats Coordinator at Peel-Harvey Catchment Council on 6369 8800.
Media Contact: Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Jane.Omalley@peel-harvey.org.au, (08) 6369 8800