Thirteen farmers from the Peel-Harvey catchment have been accepted into the Healthy Estuaries soil sampling program this year. This popular, heavily subsidised program, is designed to assess the current nutrient status of soils on farms and provide recommendations on suitable fertilisers for soil conditions, to increase production whilst reducing inputs.
The Whole Farm Nutrient Mapping program is designed to take the guess work out when applying fertilisers to your farm. Over 70% of farms on the Swan Coastal Plain have adequate phosphorus levels in their soils. This data comes from over 10 years of sampling farms across the catchments of the south-west. However, very few farmers in the catchment actually know how much phosphorus load is currently on their paddocks. At the end of the program the 13 farmers involved will know exactly how much nutrients they have in each of their paddocks, what amendments they need to make to get the best response from their pastures (eg. addition of lime, sulphur) and how much they can save by not applying fertiliser where it is not needed.
Over-supply of fertiliser to our paddocks, especially in the form of super-phosphate, has detrimental effects on our waterways. The soil has only a certain capacity to retain nutrients such as phosphate, and any excess is lost from the farms when it rains, carrying the nutrients into our river systems where the high nutrient load feeds algal growth. As some parts of our farms are on very sandy soils which have a low capacity to retain phosphorus compared to more loamy soils, these paddocks need to be treated differently when applying fertilisers, as any excess fertiliser applied is washed away and is wasted money from the farmers pocket.
After soil sampling, the farmers will then attend a workshop in February where they will get the results of their soil sampling and will choose a Fertcare accredited agronomist to work with to give the best advice on amendments and fertilisers based on their individual results.
Megan LeRoy, our Healthy Farms and Habitats Officer, will be working with the thirteen farmers over summer to get their farms soil tested. This year, the program will look a little different as some of the farmers will be trained to take the soil samples on their farms themselves, with assistance from DPIRD officers. This training will improve the capability of farmers to self-sample into the future and has a win-win as no one knows the paddocks as well as the farmers themselves who will be better placed to recognise the paddock features least suited for core samples.
If you’ve missed out on being involved and would like to know more please contact Megan @ email@example.com or Phoning PHCC on: 6369 8800.
This project is a part of the Healthy Estuaries WA program funded through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions.