Expressions of interest are now open for the latest round of the fertiliser management program through Healthy Estuaries WA.
Successful applicants will join more than 1,300 farmers working to improve the health of the region's waterways and estuaries while increasing farm productivity and profitability.
The program is open to beef, dairy and sheep grazing enterprises with at least 40 hectares of cleared, arable land.
The fertiliser management program is a partnership between the Lower Blackwood LCDC, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
Participants receive soil testing of their whole farm, training in how to complete their own soil testing and advice from an agronomist to develop a fertiliser plan.
It's not just about improving the health of our waterways - it's also about working together to improve farmers' profitability and knowledge of their farming system.- Dr Deborah Holtham
By testing soils, farmers can tailor their fertiliser management and apply only what they need.
This helps nutrients stay on the farm and prevents excess fertiliser washing into waterways - where it fuels algal growth and can contribute to fish kills.
"It's not just about improving the health of our waterways - it's also about working together to improve farmers' profitability and knowledge of their farming system," said Dr Deborah Holtham, Sustainable Agriculture Project Coordinator with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).
Previous participants have reported savings on fertiliser costs of up to $10,000 per year.
Farmers are offered two soil sampling approaches: do-it-yourself or sampled for you. The two options allow the program to be tailored to meet the needs of the farmer.
Dr Holtham said do-it-yourself sampling is an opportunity for farmers to get hands-on.
"Farmers understand their paddocks better than anyone. They know where stock like to gather, and can plan sampling to make sure the results are as accurate as possible," she said.
"By collecting their own soil samples, previous participants have appreciated learning about how soil types change across their properties.
"Farmers who have up to 15 paddocks and live on or near their property would likely benefit from sampling their property themselves.
"Those with a larger number of paddocks or who don't live near their property may prefer to have samples collected for them."
Deborah Orr from the Lower Blackwood Catchment participated in the program in 2021 and said it represented great value for her farm.
"The workshop really helped explain the science, with the whole farm nutrient map provided showing us a comprehensive picture of what is in our soil now," she said.
"Overall it's been a good program to be involved in and I'd recommend it to all farmers in the catchment."
Expressions of interest for this year's program are open until Sunday 19 June 2022 and can be submitted at estuaries.dwer.wa.gov.au
The program is a part of Healthy Estuaries WA - a State Government Royalties for Regions program that aims to improve the health of our South West estuaries.
For more information contact Dean Campbell, Lower Blackwood LCDC's Sustainable Ag Officer on 0499 072 348 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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