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Fertilizer Inputs

Growing productive pastures requires a foundation of healthy soil to support and sustain them. Having healthy soils involves managing soils according to their capability, making the right fertilizer decisions, implementing solutions for problem soils, maintaining ground cover, and looking after the soil biology.

Phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium are essential elements for all living organisms, and are key ingredients in fertilizers. Global phosphorus scarcity is likely to threaten the world's ability to meet growing food demand without changes to current phosphorus use (Cordell, D.J. 2010. The story of Phosphorus: sustainability implications of global phosphorus scarcity for food security (Doctoral thesis) Linkoping University Press, Linkoping, Sweden).

'Five Easy Steps publication'.

Managing Superphosphate Applications

Nutrient management is one of the few farm practices woolgrowers can control to enhance enterprise profitability.
AWI is investing in three significant phosphorus projects with a range of objectives from benchmarking pasture phosphorus use to unlocking phosphorus stored in the soil.

Investment Area Major Objective
Increase existing pasture phosphorus efficiency and adapt new phosphorus testing methods. Identify native and improved pasture species that can efficiently access sparingly available phosphorus and devise new methods of testing phosphorus levels.
Develop alternative pasture legumes with greater phosphorus efficiency Identify new/alternative legume species more phosphorus efficient than current species to effectively reduce phosphorus inputs in southern grazing systems
 Understand in how phosphate reacts in the soil Develop low-phosphorus pasture systems that slow the rate of phosphorus accumulation in soil.  Accumulation of organic phosphorus in soils is a major inefficiency in fertilized pasture systems

Further Information

The Five Easy Steps tool combines years of research, data and information into five steps for woolgrowers to follow when making decisions around an investment in phosphorus.

Up to 30 per cent of soil tests show soil phosphorus (P) levels are above optimum.  Many woolgrowers could justifiably decrease P applications without impacting on production.

Five Easy Steps is available to help woolgrowers make more accurate decisions on P applications. The tool was developed by CSIRO and NSW Department of Primary Industries, with funding from AWI and Pastures Australia members.

Download the Five Easy Steps tool (PDF 1,331Kb) or view more pastures publications.

Five Easy Steps Support Tools

Woolgrowers can use several decision support tools to calculate potential stocking rates and the P-inputs needed to build and maintain soil fertility.

While these tools have been widely tested, they have not been tested in every soil situation. Use the tools in consultation with a plant and soil nutrition advisor and annual soil tests to allow for any location-specific issues missed during the research process to support the tools: