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    09033: Better rural fertiliser management to improve the health of coastal waterways

    Soil sampling was conducted on 109 grazing properties for the development of whole-farm nutrient maps. Courtesy John Grant, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
    Soil sampling was conducted on 109 grazing properties for the development of whole-farm nutrient maps. Courtesy John Grant, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia

    The management of excess nutrients-particularly phosphorus-is the highest priority for the health of the major river systems on the Swan and Scott coastal plains. Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) have been developed to improve the affected waterways.

    Phosphorous from fertiliser use, particularly in agricultural production, has accumulated over time in the catchment soils and in riverine and estuarine sediments. The nutrients stimulate excessive growth of aquatic flora, which produce toxins that can be harmful to humans, fish and animals. Many years of decreased inputs will be required for the level of phosphorus to be measurably reduced in these coastal plain catchments.

    With funding from the State NRM Program, the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia has worked with catchment groups and the fertiliser, irrigation and grazing industries to reduce phosphorus inputs.

    This was achieved through education campaigns and working with the fertiliser industry to set standards and provide tools for advisers and farmers to use in assessing appropriate application rates for fertiliser.

    Investment: $ 500 000
    In-kind contribution: $ 669 533
    Other contribution: $ 15 000
    Delivery organisation: Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia
    Project duration: November 2009 - June 2011
    Location: Swan Coastal Plain with special focus on the Peel–Harvey, Geographe, Swan–Canning and Scott river catchments

    Major project achievements

    • Soil testing standards established and agreed with industry.
    • Guidelines developed for advisers making phosphorus recommendations.
    • SPANA (soil productivity and nutrient assistant) tool produced and distributed (more than 800), accompanied by a DVD with testimonials on the benefits of soil testing.
    • Whole-farm nutrient maps produced for 109 grazing enterprises to improve knowledge and awareness of good fertiliser management practices by landholders.
    • Package developed to enable individual farmers to produce their own whole-farm nutrient maps.

    Project partners

    Irrigation Australia; Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia; CSBP Ltd; Summit; South West Catchments Council; Western Dairy; WA Farmers Federation; Department of Water; Western Beef; Lower Blackwood Land Conservation District Committee; Ellen Brook Catchment Group; Peel-Harvey Land Conservation District Committee; Sam Taylor (AgVivo); Bob Jeffery; individual farmers

    More information

     

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