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Local farmers soil test for sustainability

Local farmers have made a great start to 2020 by soil testing every paddock to check nutrient levels and plan their fertiliser needs. Better management of soil helps to both save money on fertiliser and reduce nutrients entering rivers and Geographe Bay.

Twenty one farmers have partnered with GeoCatch and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development this year for a comprehensive soil testing and nutrient mapping program that continues to be extremely popular since it began in 2009. Every paddock is tested; with farmers receiving results via colour coded maps, to help them make fertiliser decisions.

For bigger farms, fertiliser bills can be large, running into tens of thousands of dollars. All farmers on the program share a desire to create or maintain healthy farms that minimise impacts on local waterways.

Local farmer and previous soil test participant Robyn Robertson says she is privileged to be part of this fantastic soil test program.

“We are buying less fertiliser and are more targeted with where we spread it. Last autumn we fertilised with half of what was traditionally used and the paddocks are still showing the same productivity.”

In 2020, 319 paddocks will be sampled across about 3000ha of sheep, beef and dairy farms in the catchment. Soil testing is a critical part of fertiliser management and compliments a suite of other projects led by GeoCatch and the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program.

GeoCatch project officer Jenelle Schult says soil testing marks the start of another busy year of GeoCatch working with farmers, urban gardeners, the community and project partners to continue improving water quality in the wetlands and Geographe Bay.

‘We already have farmers asking when the next round of soil testing opens’ said Jenelle.

Farmers who are interested in future soil testing programs can contact GeoCatch.

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