Park’s Dairy – Foliar Nutrient and Seaweed Demonstration

Year of study:


Lead Organisation and collaborators:

Bass Coast Landcare Network (BCLN), Park’s Dairy



Geoff Trease (BCLN)

Simon Park (Landholder)

Shane Manks (Agronomist)

Best Available Science Assessment:

1=Low 2= Moderate 3= High 4 = Very high




Soil Analysis

Production/ Financial

Method Reporting

Data Analysis

Results reporting











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Project details


Test products that claim to increase pasture growth.

Test the cost effectiveness of these products in a perennial grazing system.



The use of seaweed as a foliar spray will increase dry matter yield, nutrient levels in the pasture and fungal activity in the soil.



Scientific research has shown that the effects of seaweed products can be explained by the

presence of groups of plant growth hormones, namely auxins, cytokinins and gibberellins. These hormones can

increase plant root and shoot development.

A link to one of many scientific articles to support this below.

Location details

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Paddock: 2.08 Ha predominantly rye grass

Wonthaggi/South Dudley area, flat property, Swamp Scrub landscape,

Soil: Loamy

Rainfall: 900mm

Nutrient status – more figures on page 3

Calcium: 785 mg/kg

Potassium: 142 mg/kg

Colwell Phosphorus – 12.6

Carbon 8.86%

pH water 5.5

Urea: 3:1

Fertiliser and Lime were chosen by the Park’s in consultation with the agronomist to address pH, Calcium and nutrient constraints.


Pre-trial management

Fertiliser application:

September 2011 1 tonne lime/ha, 2011, urea applied 4 times at 100kg/ha, 3:1 fertiliser at 200kg/ha

Grazing history:

The whole paddock grazed every rotation (depending on time of year).

240 cows in paddock for 8 hours.


25 day up to 50 winter and down to 15 Spring

Simon strip grazes occasionally.

Key Findings:

The level of rigour in this demonstration does not allow for any key findings.

One application of seaweed did not show a discernible improvement in dry matter, soil condition or nutrients in plant. Cost effectiveness could not be determined.

A visual assessment on the seaweed plots by the agronomist after a second application of seaweed suggested a possible increase in tillering and 3rd leaf quality, ie slower to senesce. While this visual assessment supports the hypothesis, there is no available data that backs the assessment. Further investigation is required.

The biological test for Total and Active Bacterial and fungal counts and ratios did not provide easily analysed data and was expensive. Our finding is that while biological tests provide interesting information for discussion of soil biology, they do not at this stage provide a cost effective tool for management decisions.

While brix readings are an interesting tool to measure plant sugars, little can be gleaned from the results. There are considerable variations in brix readings depending on time of day, soil moisture etc.

Consideration could have been given to a control without lime.



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Experimental Design:


Lime – 1t/ha $130/ha spread
Granular Fertiliser
(Urea and 3:1)
250kg/ha $300/ha spread
Foliar Fertilser
(Urea and 3:1)
20ltr/ha $90/ha spread
Seaweed 20ltr/ha $115/ha spread


2.08ha area (260mX80m) 10 strip plots (5 treatments each with 2 replications) Each strip is 80m wide and 26m long and the 10 strips run the full width of the paddock

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  • Standard Chemical soil analysis to view changes in soil chemistry, pH and carbon levels.
  • Plant tissue analysis to determine nutrient uptake.
  • Dry Matter Yield to determine quantity of pasture.
  • Biological testing to give a guide to activity particularly fungal bacterial ratio.
  •  Brix test to give an indication of plant sugar levels. (Ideal brix reading is 10) – Brix reading vary, with lowest being early morning and highest being mid afternoon – there can be a difference of 3 brix during the day



How results have been reported:

Field day, Gippsland Soil Trial Directory

Level of Review of Results:

Reviewed by Nick Dudley (DEPI) and Tony Gardner (WGCMA)

Soil Measurements

Chemical Soil test

30 cores 10cm taken on a transect line down each plot

Half sent to EAL Laboritories basic chemical analysis. NATA accredited,

pH, carbon, basic nutrient, cation exchange and ratios.

Half sent to Agpath Laboratories Soil Food web analysis – Total and Active Bacterial and fungal counts and ratios.

Baseline Information March 22nd 2012

1 set of samples across trial area

After 1 year March 2013

1 set of samples per plot


Production Measures

Dry matter yield

Pasture plate meter 30 readings

Plant tissue analysis

10 ryegrass samples cut to to grazing height (50mm) randomly selected in each plot,

I bulk sample for each plot sent to EAL-basic plant chemistry

Baseline information March 22nd 2012 1.45pm

Air temp 25 deg, Soil temp 20 deg, Soil Moisture – Slightly moist.

1 full set of above tests across trial area

Pasture plate – 4 times over 12 months

1 brix reading at 2 pm

March 2013

1 Brix reading per plot at 2pm

1 full set of soil tests and dry matter tests per plot

Next steps

To support the hypothesis and assess cost effectiveness requires a longer term more detailed study.