North Dandalup: Farmers shown it pays to regularly test their soils

Farmers check out soils in North Dandalup.
Farmers check out soils in North Dandalup.

FARMERS attending a Farm Field Walk at North Dandalup were shown it pays to regularly test their soils before ordering fertiliser or engaging a fertiliser contractor.

The Field Walk was part of a four-year Royalties for Regions Regional Estuaries Initiative that supported soil testing on 60 farms in the Peel-Harvey Catchment since 2016.

The project involves the catchment council, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation working with farmers to test paddock soils and provide advice and recommendations on future fertiliser applications.

The catchment council has provided farmer extension support throughout the project.

Farmers visited sites on two farms where soil testing had been run since last year to measure the nutrient status of individual paddocks.

On each farm, fertiliser demonstration plots were established earlier this year to assess pasture growth responses to different amounts of superphosphate fertiliser, potassium and sulphur.

One farm, where testing revealed high phosphorus levels in 2017, showed no extra growth by applying superphosphate in 2018.

The other farm, which tested low in phosphorus in 2017, showed good responses to superphosphate at moderate levels, informed by the soil test results.

The key message from the Field Walk for farmers and landholders was test your soils before you order fertiliser or you could be wasting your money.