Case Studies

Download Case Study1. Comprehensive soil testing reaps benefits – Mundulla, South Australia

Brad and Evan Schmidt carried out a comprehensive soil testing and nutrient program on their Mundulla dairy farm in South Australia. The farm nutrient maps showed that paddocks appearing similar in soil type and management often varied in fertility. They are now using an agronomist to fully review their fertiliser program.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nutrient mapping, good advice, manure, effluent, phosphorus

Download Case Study2. Improve nutrient management, Improve your bottom line – Mt Jagged, South Australia

The Mt Jagged Dairy Discussion Group in South Australia found that good advice, comprehensive soil testing, nutrient mapping, and a farm nutrient budget helped to improve production and save money.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nutrient mapping, environmental management, nutrient budgets, good advice, phosphorus

Download Case Study3. Managing Dairy Farm Effluent – Gippsland Victoria

For an average Gippsland dairy farm milking approximately 300 cows it is likely that 750 kg of nitrogen (N), 150 kg of phosphorus (P), and 810 kg of potassium (K) will be added to the effluent pond annually from dung and urine. This was worth between $7500 and $8000 in 2010. Find out why you need to worry about effluent, what you need to know, and how to design an effluent system to suit your needs.

Key words: Victoria, effluent, environmental management, legislation, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium

Download Case Study4. Soil and Nutrient Management – Cradle Coast, Tasmania

In 2010 a DairyTAS project involving full farm soil testing and nutrient mapping on six Cradle Coast dairy farms showed there was a general trend for over-fertilising. The opportunity to save money by targeted distribution, or reduction of fertilising load, was significant. It was estimated savings for the six dairy farms would be $280,000 over two years. Reduced soil nutrient levels would also provide additional benefits for the environment.

Key words: Tasmania, soil testing, nutrient mapping, environmental management, nutrient loads, soil fertility guidelines, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur

Download Case Study5. Increase fertiliser efficiency with whole farm soil sampling – Wandillo, South Australia

Kym and Leanne Willsmore of Wandillo, South Australia, soil tested twenty-seven paddocks across their farm and prepared a whole farm nutrient map as part of a ‘Dairying for Tomorrow’ soil nutrient project. The total cost of sampling, testing and mapping came to $2360. Kym Willsmore said “I can’t believe such a simple test in each a paddock can give me so much information, it has taken the guess work out of the fertiliser decision making”.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nutrient mapping, soil fertility guidelines, environmental management, nutrient loads, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur

Download Case Study6. More soil tests, more often to boost fertiliser efficiency – South Australia

Agronomists are urging dairy farmers to test individual paddocks annually to get the most out of their fertiliser applications following a DairySA soil management project involving 42 dairy farms. The most significant development from the project has been the ability to treat paddocks individually to correct specific nutritional deficiencies, rather than treating the whole farm with a traditional blanket fertiliser application.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nutrient mapping

Download Case Study7. Balancing phosphorous levels results in efficient use of fertiliser dollars – Kongorong, South Australia

After joining the DairySA Soil Nutrient project in 2010, Nick Saunders found there were high levels of phosphorus in most of his farm paddocks. He now focuses on applying the right type of fertiliser where it’s needed leading to a more efficient use of the farm fertiliser dollar. Comprehensive soil testing has led to a more ‘prescription farming’ approach where closer attention is paid to the phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and trace element needs, confirmed by plant tissue tests.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nutrient mapping, plant tissue testing, phosphorus

Download Case Study8. Soil tests aid dairy expansion – Lucindale, South Australia

After soil testing twenty farm paddocks share farmers Andy Vickers and Belinda Wright found the variation in soil nutrient levels across the farm were significant. Some paddocks had very high levels of phosphorus while others were very low. As a result phosphorus fertiliser was reduced to about one third of that used previously, leading to big cost savings.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium

Download Case Study9. Fleurieu dairy farmers reap rewards from soil nutrient testing – South Australia

Fleurieu dairy farmers are reaping the benefits of intensive soil testing and nutrient budgeting following their involvement a three-year dairy soil nutrient project. Fleurieu project coordinator Greg Mitchell said: “Farms involved in the project have focused hard on targeting nutrient application where it is needed and pulling it away from the more heavily loaded areas. In most cases this has resulted in better growth, better soil management and a better bottom-line.”

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, nutrient mapping, nutrient budgets, environmental management, soil acidity, phosphorus

Download Case Study10. Soil testing worthwhile on Fleurieu dairy farms– South Australia

Soil testing work on Fleurieu dairy farms identified that soil acidity remains a problem on many farms. The project Coordinator, Greg Mitchell, said “We know that strong acidity can reduce the availability of certain soil nutrients and is sometimes responsible for increased availability of the plant toxin aluminium in soils,” Greg said. “If anything, acidity problems were worse on farms applying high inputs of nitrogen fertilisers, and where paddocks are cut for hay and silage every year.”

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, environmental management, soil acidity, soil salinity, phosphorus, sulphur

Download Case Study11. Industry, agronomists and farmers working together to improve fertiliser use – South Australia

By bringing together farmers with locally respected agronomists under the Australian dairy industry’s natural resource management strategy “Dairying for Tomorrow”, the project aimed to improve farmers knowledge of soil fertility and their skills to interpret soil test results leading to changes in farm management practices.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, good advice

Download Case Study12. Monitoring soil fertility on Fleurieu dairy farms – South Australia

Comprehensive soil testing on 11 Fleurieu dairy farms during 2010 and 2011 showed that of the paddocks tested: 45% were strongly acidic; 17% were moderately saline; 45% were marginal to low in Sulphur; over 50% were marginal to low in potassium; 85% were adequate to high in phosphorus, and 55% did not require P maintenance in the following year.

Key words: South Australia, soil testing, good advice, sulphur, soil salinity, phosphorus, soil acidity, potassium, nutrient mapping

Download Case Study13. Phosphorus fertilisers, soil tests and off-site water quality – Victoria

Fertilisers and good water quality are not mutually exclusive. Research has shown that fertilisers can be used effectively without unacceptable environmental management. Soil sampling and the application of technologies that match fertiliser applications to soil nutrient status and yield potential, are becoming more widespread. Optimising production systems to decrease phosphorus exports (i.e. leakage) is a realistic option.

Key words: Victoria, soil testing, phosphorus, environmental management

Download Case Study14. Improving nutrient management on Circular Head dairy farms – Tasmania

There has been a significant reduction in soil phosphorus and sulphur over the past six years on dairy farms in the Togari and Brittons swamp areas. However, there are still many paddocks with extremely high values of plant available soil phosphorus, and soil potassium has increased. The decrease in soil phosphorus has saved farmers money in reduced fertiliser application as well as reducing the risk of nutrient loss to waterways.

Key words: Tasmania, soil testing, phosphorus, environmental management, potassium, sulphur, nutrient budgets, fertiliser plan, nutrient mapping, soil sampling.

Download Case Study15. Phosphorus – Fact Sheet, Tasmania

  • Phosphorus is one of the most critical and limiting nutrients in agriculture in Australia.
  • Phosphorus reactions in soils are complex, and agronomic advice is recommended to interpret soil tests.
  • Only 5–30% of phosphorus applied as fertiliser is taken up by the plant in the year of application.
  • Phosphorus losses via runoff and drainage under dairy production can be high in Tasmania.

Key words: Tasmania, soil testing, phosphorus, environmental management, nutrient budgets, nutrient mapping, soil sampling

Download Case Study16. Potassium – Fact Sheet, Tasmania

  • Soil testing is a very effective means of determining potassium requirements.
  • Potassium export in crops, milk or meat must be accounted for when calculating nutrient budgets.
  • Potassium deficiency symptoms first occur in the older leaves of plants, and can be mistaken for disease infections.
  • Dairy shed effluent applied to paddocks can result in excess soil potassium and potential animal health problems.

Key words: Tasmania, soil testing, potassium, nutrient budgets, soil sampling, animal health

Download Case Study17. Soil nutrient mapping and nutrient budgets for pasture management – Report, Tasmania

  • Most farmers underestimate their soil nutrient status
  • Many farmers are applying a surplus of P, K & S
  • Farmers in the Montagu catchment have significantly reduced their soil P & S levels over the past 6 years.

Key words: Tasmania, soil testing, nutrient mapping, nutrient budgets, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, soil acidity

Download Case Study18. Soil Acidity – Fact Sheet, Tasmania

  • Soil pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil solution. The lower the pH of soil, the greater the acidity.
  • pHwater should be maintained at above 5.5 in the topsoil and 5.2 in the subsurface.
  • A well maintained soil pH will maintain the value of the soil resource, maximise crop and pasture choice and avoid production losses due to low pH.

Key words: Tasmania, soil testing, soil acidity, liming

Download Case Study19. Core 4 program – Gippsland, Victoria

Keeping nutrients and sediment on farm makes good sense. It contributes to productivity, turns run-off back into an asset and helps improve the health of local waterways. The Core 4 program supports dairy farmers in the western end of the Gippsland Lakes catchment to make improvements to help retain these assets on farm.

Key words: Victoria, environmental management, effluent, phosphorus.

Download Case Study20. High production and pasture utilisation – Deloraine, Tasmania

John and Wendy Wilson aim for a system with high levels of production per cow, and high levels of pasture utilisation. Nitrogen is used as a supplementary feed, as opposed to a fertiliser. Fertiliser applications are separated into maintenance and capital requirements. Matching fertiliser applications to nutrient requirements has identified potential savings of $9,000 per year.

Key words: Tasmania, fertiliser planning, soil testing, nutrient budgets, nitrogen.

Download Case Study21. Fertiliser Management Plan For Rodwell Farms – Western Australia

The irrigated pastures at Rodwell Farms have been intensively fertilised (and monitored) on a rotational basis, and subsequent soil and plant tissue testing has been incorporated into the management regime. Soil samples have been GPS located on transects within designated paddocks to monitor trends of nutrient status and plant tests are taken up to 4 times per annum. Fertiliser has been applied by contractors with GPS and weighing equipment on their machinery and own machinery that is calibrated on farm. Due to the intensive nature of monitoring on the milking platform, management is moving away from complete (N, P, K, S) blends to more specific nutrient applications where required. The fact that data is available on every paddock from soil and plant tests allows this management shift to occur.

Key words: Western Australia, fertiliser planning, soil testing, nutrient budgets, plant tissue testing, soil sampling, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur.

Download Case Study22. Whole farm soil analysis and mapping – Western Australia

The ‘Nutrient Management Systems for Dairying’ project run by Western Dairy and Dairying for Tomorrow involved 12 farmers in the Busselton, Cowaramup and Scott River regions. Up to 40 paddocks were soil tested on each farm and a fertiliser plan including a whole farm map showing pH, Phosphorus and Potassium and a nutrient budget was prepared. The fertiliser products and application were matched more precisely to the soil nutrient status and production; and in 3 out of the 4 case studies, the result was a decrease in fertiliser use and subsequent costs.

Key words: Western Australia, fertiliser planning, soil testing, nutrient budgets, soil sampling, nutrient mapping, phosphorus, potassium, soil acidity.

Download Case Study23. Rapid variable soil acidity testing – Victoria

Conventional soil pH mapping involves using a standard soil sampling probe and sending samples away for laboratory analysis. This process is slow and can be relatively expensive. A new mobile pH Detector system measures one pH sample per minute to a depth of approximately 5 cm, and logs these values along with GPS coordinates. The data is used to map soil pH map and can be used for variable rate lime applications, resulting in potential savings.

Key words: Victoria, soil testing, soil sampling, nutrient mapping, soil acidity, liming

Download Case Study24. Soil and Nutrient Management Plan improves fertiliser utilisation – Milla Milla, Queensland

Janeene and Eddie Wallwork of Millaa Millaa Queensland had a whole farm soil and nutrient management plan prepared in 2009. Their previous fertiliser program wasn’t working effectively, despite high fertiliser inputs. Soil tests were taken across the farm and nutrient maps were prepared. Despite having high soil phosphorus levels, the plants were unable to access it. Lime and dolomite was recommended to release nutrients. Independent advice was highly valued.

Key words: Queensland, phosphorus, soil testing, liming, soil acidity, nutrient mapping, fertiliser planning, effluent, manure, nitrogen, nutrient budgets, good advice, environmental management

Download Case Study25. Soil and nutrient management plan saves money – Bundaberg, Queensland

The Perry family operates a 170 Holstein Friesian dairy herd west of Bundaberg, Queensland. They were one of the first dairy farms in Queensland to have a soil and nutrient management plan developed through the Dairy Reef Rescue Program. A consultant used farm records and soil analysis reports to prepare a plan which included nutrient maps and detailed fertiliser recommendations. This more precise approach saved the Perry’s more than $5000 in the first year (approximately $90/ha in some paddocks), and at the same time reduced potential risks to water quality.

Key words: Queensland, phosphorus, soil testing, nutrient mapping, fertiliser planning, effluent, good advice, environmental management

Download Case Study26. Acid Sulphate Soils – Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area, South Australia

The Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA) is currently experiencing problems with acidic drainage water in many of the salt drains that are pumped into the River Murray. The acid drainage water has occurred as a result of the rewetting of acid sulphate soils which dried during the 2006–10 drought. Find out more about acid sulphate soils and recommendations for irrigators.

Key words: South Australia, acid sulphate soils, environmental management, soil acidity, irrigation

Download Case Study27. EPA Guidelines for Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Areas – South Australia

There are approximately 5,200 ha of irrigated area on the former floodplain of the Murray River. Environmental management on these farms can impact on the water quality of the River Murray. These guidelines are based on best management practices developed by agricultural consultants, irrigation engineers and the Environment Protection Authority, with extensive consultation with the irrigators. All current aspects of floodplain management are covered.

Key words: South Australia, acid sulphate soils, environmental management, soil acidity, drainage, effluent.

Download Case Study28. Laser Levelling – Lower Murray Irrigation, South Australia

Laser levelling involves the use of a laser guided land plane to re-level the paddock surface and to create a suitable slope for improving the watering efficiency of paddocks. Laser levelling helps to improve the growth of crops and pastures. Find out how to plan for laser levelling and see the checklist before you start.

Key words: South Australia, laser levelling, irrigation, drainage

Download Case Study29. Irrigation scheduling- Lower Murray Irrigation, South Australia

Irrigation scheduling is applying the right amount of water at the right time. Basically, scheduling aims to minimise any water stress on the pasture and minimise any run-off or unnecessary drainage loss. Find out more about water scheduling and what tools to use.

Key words: South Australia, water scheduling, irrigation, drainage, irrigauge, evaporimeter, water meter

Download Case Study30. Reducing drainage costs and impacts – Lower Murray Irrigation, South Australia

Drainage is recognised as one of the most important aspects of maintaining a productive and sustainable irrigation system in the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation areas. Without drainage, waterlogging and the build-up of salt and other elements would lead to a significant loss of productive capacity. However, drainage can have detrimental impacts on rivers. Find out how to manage and reduce drainage to protect the environment.

Key words: South Australia, irrigation, drainage, soil acidity, water logging, environmental management

Download Case Study31. Nitrogen fertiliser for the Lower Murray – South Australia

Nitrogen is used to boost pasture production and keep feed costs down. However, there are potential problems in using N fertilisers on Lower Murray dairy farms. Find out what the research is telling us; and how to use N fertilisers to get the best results.

Key words: South Australia, irrigation, phosphorus, nitrogen, runoff, environmental management

Download Case Study32. Phosphorous for the Lower Murray – South Australia

Soils on the Lower Murray reclaimed areas are very fertile, and in the past superphosphate fertiliser was seldom used. With increasing production per cow and laser levelling, phosphorus fertilisers may be needed on some soils. Find out how to assess the need for P fertiliser and what rates are required to maintain productivity.

Key words: South Australia, irrigation, phosphorus, environmental management, soil testing

Download Case Study33. Mole drainage for poorly drained soil in the Lower Murray – South Australia

Mole drains are cheap and effective at rapidly dropping water tables after irrigation when they are properly installed into poorly drained soil. Find out how to install and manage mole drains.

Key words: South Australia, irrigation, drainage, environmental management

Download Case Study34. Gypsum for the Lower Murray – South Australia

Soils of the Lower Murray reclaimed areas are very high in clay content (50 to 70% clay). Some clay soils disperse or fall apart on wetting causing several problems. Gypsum can be used to improve soil structure and drainage where there is a dominance of sodium ions in the clay soils. Find out how to identify soils that will benefit from gypsum, how much gypsum to apply, and the best time to apply it.

Key words: South Australia, irrigation, drainage, soil structure, gypsum, soil tests, sodium, soil testing, dispersion

Download Case Study35. 10 ‘Commandments’ for Swamp Management – South Australia

The first four commandments for swamp management are all about drainage! The other six are about how to manage water, fertiliser and feed. Find out how to apply the 10 commandments to swamp management.

Key words: South Australia, irrigation, drainage, soil structure, swamp management