Brendon Cant brendon at iinet.net.au
Thu Aug 31 05:35:46 CEST 2006

SOIL TESTING AFTER A TOUGH SEASON<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns =
"urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


WA graingrowers facing reduced returns from a poor 2006 season have more
reason than usual to focus on returns from fertiliser investments. 


Scarce fertiliser dollars need to be spent wisely and it's hard to know how
much nutrient to apply as fertiliser if existing soil nutrient levels aren't
known, so soil testing is more important than ever.


Wayne Pluske, from Nutrient Management Systems, said results from a recent
Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Nutrient Management
Initiative (NMI) survey showed growers were clearly focused on improving
profits from fertiliser use all the time. 


"With a poor 2006 season, some growers and even some of their advisors
may question soil testing because they think it's going to tell them how to
spend money they haven't got,” Mr Pluske said.


“But when money is scarce, it's more crucial that it's invested in the right


Mr Pluske, who co-ordinated the GRDC’s NMI survey, said money was wasted
each year through fertiliser misuse because the wrong nutrients were used
and also used in the wrong place or at the wrong rates. 


He said this year the margin for error would be small for many growers so
they couldn’t afford to make decisions without all the available


"Misuse of fertilisers is very expensive compared to soil testing,” Mr
Pluske said.


"Even now growers could be preparing for next season's fertilisers,
especially trace elements, by plant testing suitable crops and pastures."


Fertiliser represented, on average, 22 per cent of WA growers' total costs
in 2005.


GRDC Western Panel Deputy Chairman Robert Belford agreed soil testing was
important and should not be skimped.


He said it was also important to target soil sampling to pick up variation
in soil type or history across a paddock and manage fertiliser inputs in
relation to that variability. 


“GRDC is also investing in projects to look at rapid soil testing and new
techniques to analyse a range of soil properties,” Dr Belford said.


“These projects have the long term aim of reducing the cost and increasing
the precision of soil testing and fertiliser decision making.”


Authorised by GRDC and issued on its behalf by Brendon Cant & Associates,
Tel 08 9384 1122

MEDIA CONTACTS: Wayne Pluske, Tel 08 9315 2488

   Dr Robert Belford, Tel 03 5362 21122

GRDC REF: Soiltest.doc/Fraser





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