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Farmers step up with soil testing

Twenty-eight local farmers have this week come one step closer to best practice fertiliser management at a workshop held near Busselton.

The farmers have each participated in GeoCatch’s fertiliser management project, which undertakes paddock-scale soil testing and mapping in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). Farmers received their colour-coded maps at the workshop which will help them to make future fertiliser decisions.

DPIRD officers and local agronomist, Sam Taylor, held an interactive workshop; explaining the latest science, conducting demonstrations and helping the farmers to understand how to apply the results of their individual farm maps.

Feedback from participants was positive, with farmers appreciating the interactive nature of the workshop, helping them better understand their soils and nutrients.

Local farmer Bernie Kurz said it was a great day which he found very interesting and valuable.

“It is reassuring to see that we seem to be on the right track,” said Bernie.

Following the workshop, farmers will have a one on one session with their selected agronomist from the Fertcare Accredited Agronomic Panel to work on their fertiliser plan for this year, based on their soil test results.

GeoCatch project officer, Jenelle Schult, says for bigger farms, fertiliser bills can be large, running into tens of thousands of dollars.

“Better management of soil helps to both save money on fertiliser and reduce nutrients entering rivers and Geographe Bay,” she said.

Since 2016, 86 farmers have been involved in the soil testing program in the Geographe Bay Catchment with an estimated reduction of around 730 kg of phosphorus entering catchment waterways annually from improved fertiliser management. The program was funded through the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program, which aims to improve water quality, waterway health and management of Geographe waterways.

“All farmers in the program share a desire to create or maintain healthy farms that minimise impacts on local waterways,” said Jenelle.

“It’s a real win-win for farmers and the environment.”

Farmers interested in being involved in future soil testing programs can contact GeoCatch on 9781 0111.

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