Guideline Index

Chapter 15: Nutrient Planning

15.1 Introduction

Responsible nutrient planning involves soil testing and nutrient budgeting to match the nutrients being applied with the actual farm nutrient requirements. The benefits of this approach include potential $ savings, increased productivity and a reduction in nutrients lost to the environment.

Nutrient planning follows the International Plant Nutrition Institute’s 4Rs principles of applying the right source of nutrient, at the right rate, at the right time, and in right place.

To develop a nutrient plan, information is needed about existing soil fertility levels and farm production. The production level aims of the farmer also need to be considered to help determine soil nutrient targets.

Monitoring soil fertility trends in paddocks with soil testing is a key component of nutrient planning. By monitoring trends over time, the fertiliser program can be adjusted to match changing soil requirements.

Nutrient and soil fertility management is not an exact science. The figures used in this chapter are the best available at this point in time, but will change as more is discovered about nutrient management.

In this chapter the following key areas of nutrient planning are discussed:

The concept of maintenance and capital fertiliser

Soil testing

Farm management zones

Nutrient mapping

Nutrient budgeting to determine nutrient requirements