Nutrient mapping takes guesswork out of soil

STAFF REPORTERThe West Australian

Livestock producers have an opportunity to take part in a Department of Agriculture and Food nutrient mapping program from November.

Producers located in Ellen Brook, Peel Harvey, Leschenault, Geographe, Lower Blackwood, Scott River and Wilson, and other eligible areas in the greater than 600mm rainfall zone, can apply to participate in the State NRM funded program.

Department senior research officer David Weaver said the aim was to take the guesswork out of farm nutrient requirements by using regular soil testing.

Soil test results are converted into a series of coloured maps showing the nutrient status of each paddock on participating farms.

“Over the next two years, 200 farms will be provided with paddock-based soil sampling, analysis and nutrient mapping,” Mr Weaver said. “More accurate information on soil nutrient levels will assist farm businesses to make evidence-based decisions about fertiliser requirements.”

Interested producers must have a minimum 40 hectare grazing enterprise, with the farm consisting of a block of adjacent paddocks.

Mr Weaver said the focus was on farm businesses that had not been involved in whole farm nutrient mapping previously. For eligible businesses located in the specified catchments which have not been previously involved, the program is free.

Eligible farm businesses that have had previous involvement, or that are outside the specified catchments, will need to make a small contribution based on eligibility criteria and the number of paddocks.

Mr Weaver said the cost was heavily subsidised and well below the commercial cost of undertaking a similar soil sampling and mapping program.

Interested farmers can submit an expression of interest from August 1-31 and sampling will be undertaken from November 2013 to April 2014, with maps provided in a timely manner as soil test results are received.

Farmers can send an email to nutrientmapping@agric.wa.gov.au to request an Expression of Interest form, or phone Heidi Blackburn on 9733 7777 or 0437 806 459.

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