Expressions of interest are now open for the 2021/22 round of the fertiliser management program through Healthy Estuaries WA.

The program is a partnership between Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

The 2020/21 program was the first-time farmers were offered two approaches of soil sampling: do-it-yourself or sampled for you.

Prior to 2020, farms were sampled exclusively by a team of trained soil samplers. This minimised time requirements from farmers but meant that farmers weren’t contributing their expertise to the process.

Dr Deborah Holtham, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), said do-it-yourself sampling is an opportunity for farmers get hands-on with the science that’s happening in their soils.

“Farmers understand their paddocks better than anyone. They know where stock like to gather and can plan sampling to avoid areas that can make results less accurate,” Dr Holtham said.

The two options allow the program to be tailored to meet the needs of the farmer.

Landowners that don’t live on their property, or properties with a large number of paddocks, are likely better suited to having samples collected for them. Farmers that have 5-15 paddocks and live on their property would likely benefit from sampling their property themselves.

“As a part of the program we train farmers how to use the equipment and take samples in line with national guidelines. This makes it easier for farmers to continue sampling their own paddocks into the future.”

By testing soils, farmers are able to tailor their fertiliser program to apply only what they need. This prevents excess fertiliser washing into waterways where it fuels excess algal growth.

“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.

PHCC Chair, Caroline Knight spoke of the benefits of soil testing and is encouraging farmers to get involved in the program. 

“We at PHCC understand the importance of healthy soils from an economic, environmental and long term sustainability asset base and encourage landowners to get involved.” Caroline said.

Expressions of interest for this year’s program can be submitted at estuaries.dwer.wa.gov.au and are open until Friday 9 July 2021.

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 at Peel-Harvey Catchment Council on 6369 8800

ENDS

Media Contact:  Jane O’Malley, Chief Executive Officer, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, [email protected], (08) 6369 8800

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