Livestock producers in the South West and Great Southern have an opportunity to take part in a soil testing program to reduce nutrient loss off farm and optimise fertiliser use.
Producers in the Peel Harvey, Leschenault, Geographe, Lower Blackwood, Scott River, Wilson and Oyster Harbour catchments with more than 40 hectares of cleared arable land can apply to take part in the new nutrient mapping program.
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) senior research officer David Weaver said 100 places were available and farmers had until 26 August 2016 to apply.
“Participants will receive subsidised soil testing and individualised whole farm nutrient maps highlighting where nutrient surpluses and deficiencies occur on the farm,” Mr Weaver said.
“The aim is to reduce nutrient loss off farm by assisting evidence-based decisions about fertiliser requirements – ensuring fertiliser and profits stay on farm.”
The four-year nutrient mapping program is a collaborative effort by DAFWA, local catchment groups and the Department of Water.
It is part of the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy of the broader Regional Estuaries Initiative, made possible by the Western Australian Government’s Royalties for Regions program, aimed at improving water quality in regional estuaries and waterways.
Farmers have a critical role to play in reducing nutrients to improve water quality, with nutrient run-off from grazing land representing one of the largest sources of nutrients entering estuaries in the South West.
“The nutrient mapping project will lead to improved productivity and reduced fertiliser costs for farming businesses in these catchments,” Mr Weaver said.
“Getting nutrient inputs right can improve the bottom line for producers and benefit water quality in coastal water-bodies – it’s a win-win for farming and the waterways.”
Department of Water Regional Estuaries Initiative manager Kath Lynch encouraged the farming community to get involved.
“This program is a great collaboration between farmers, catchment groups and State Government agencies that can make a big difference to the water quality of our waterways and estuaries,” Dr Lynch said.
Sampling will occur from mid-November to mid-March, with maps provided in a timely manner to support fertiliser decisions for the 2017 season.
Soil test results will be converted into a series of coloured maps showing the nutrient status of each paddock on participating farms.
Preference for the 2016 sampling season will be given to farmers who have not previously been involved in similar whole farm nutrient mapping projects.
Expressions of interest close on 26 August 2016.