Fertile soils drive productive pastures through optimal water and nutrient use. When soil nutrients are lacking, pastures are unable to reach their potential regardless of how much water and sunlight is available and how effective grazing management is.
Healthy fertile soils are a combination of:
- physical fertility – soil texture, structure and resilience
- chemical fertility – nutrient supply and cycling
- biological fertility – organic matter, soil animals and micro-organisms.
During the coming months the Pasture Improvement Initiative will collate the most up-to-date information on pasture nutrition, highlighting key fertiliser and soil management principles and provide links to useful resources on this page. In the meantime, check out the following resources and websites to ensure you are employing the most suitable nutrient management strategies to achieve your enterprise goals.
Smartphone applications and management tools
The Five Easy Steps tool allows you to understand the value of soil testing and how to use soil test information to plan fertiliser and livestock investments.
The information package provides a better framework for understanding and planning the use of phosphorus (P) fertilisers.
The software tool and booklet were developed by CSIRO and Industry and NSW Department of Primary Industries with financial assistance from Pastures Australia.
The nitrogen and gibberellic acid calculator (EverGraze)
The EverGraze nitrogen and gibberellic acid calculator can be used to consider the most cost-effective options when feed may be limited. The calculator incorporates the cost of applying nitrogen or gibberellic acid, digestibility of feed, expected responses to applications and utilisation of feed to calculate cost on a cents per megajoule (c/MJ) comparison.
The Nitrogen and gibberellic acid calculator can also be found within the EverGraze Feed Budget and Rotation Planner
The Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) More Beef from Pastures producer manual is an interactive and online information package designed to deliver the essential principles and practices for a successful beef business. The manual draws on the latest R&D as well as the knowledge, skills and experience of producer advocates who helped write the seven modules.
Module 2 — Pasture growth helps producers develop expertise in soil, pasture and grazing management to boost productivity and profitability.
The Building and maintaining soil nutrients section of the manual covers:
- soil health
- organic matter.
The Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Making More From Sheep online manual captures, in one handy reference, useful information about the ‘must dos’ of managing a successful sheep and/or wool enterprise, generated from years of research and on-farm experience.
The Build and maintain soil fertility section of the Grow more pasture module provides information and tools for assessing soil fertility and subsequent decision-making
EverGraze was a national research, development and extension project that designed, tested and implemented farming systems based on perennials to increase profitability of livestock enterprises and at the same time reduce ground water recharge and soil loss by water and wind in the high rainfall zone of southern Australia.
A wide range of resources covering pasture management principles is freely available on the EverGraze website.
Oliver Cay, Cooma NSW
By applying the new, predictive Five Easy Steps computer model to their 1600ha property, 65km south of Cooma, Oliver and his wife, Jane, have cut their fertiliser bill by almost half while maintaining their stocking rate.
Click here to read the full story on the MLA website