Soil testing opportunity for Geographe farmers now open

GeoCatch project officer Kim Archer helps looks through soil test results at the 2020 soil testing workshop. Image supplied.
GeoCatch project officer Kim Archer helps looks through soil test results at the 2020 soil testing workshop. Image supplied.

Geographe farmers interested in finding out more about the nutrient status of their paddocks are being invited to register for this summer's soil testing program being offered through GeoCatch, in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

The popular program will provide farmers with whole-of-farm soil testing in the summer of 2020-21, followed by colour-coded nutrient maps, spring tissue testing and access to agronomic advice.

Farmers who took part last year said they would highly recommend it to anyone keen to learn more about their soil and understand how they could be more efficient with fertiliser.

More than 80 farmers have been involved in the soil testing program in the Geographe catchment since 2015, with an estimated reduction of around 730 kilograms of phosphorus entering catchment waterways annually from improved fertiliser management.

GeoCatch project officer Kim Archer said better management of soil helped to both save money on fertiliser and reduce nutrients entering rivers and Geographe Bay.

"Many farmers have been surprised to find they have adequate phosphorus levels across much of the farm and could divert their attention and dollars to addressing other nutrients limiting production," she said.

"Over 80 per cent of paddocks sampled across the south west are too acidic, so many farmers are redirecting the money saved on their fertiliser bill to applying lime.

"This is a win for them, and for our waterways".

Farmers are also finding a lot of benefit with the extra advice and support provided at local workshops where they are presented with their soil test results and nutrient maps.

Ms Archer said feedback from farmers last year showed that they learnt a lot from discussing their results with DPIRD officers and local agronomists who were available to help interpret maps and results.

The program is open to beef, dairy and sheep grazing enterprises in the Geographe catchment. Farmers outside this area may also be eligible for soil testing under the new Healthy Estuaries WA program.

Farmers wanting more information or registering their interest can visit estuaries.dwer.wa.gov.au/strategies/sustainable-agriculture/soil-testing/.