Judy and Peter Johnson Focus Farm

Year of study: 

2005-10

 

Lead organisation & collaborators:

ONFARM consulting

Peter and Judy Johnson’s properties

Contact:

John Mulvany

PO box 462

Leongatha, Vic 3953

T: (03) 5664 3393

 

Best available science assessment:

Overall score: 23

Overall rating: High

Objectives

Conceptual model

Study design

Soil analysis

Production & financial

Method reporting

Data analysis

Results reporting

Publication

3

3

2

3

1

4

2

3

2

Project details

Objectives:

To test soil fertility and develop a fertiliser and pasture management program geared to profitability in a dairy farming operation.

Hypotheses:

Soil testing is an unreliable guide to pasture response to fertiliser application. Lack of skill of soil tests in predicting pasture response makes profitability-based fertiliser decisions difficult. Use of test strips, with soil tests improves the quantification of pasture response to changed pH and fertility and leads to improved decision making.

Basis:

Test strips appear to have better skill in demonstrating pasture response to lime or N/P application than soil tests alone.

Location details:

Closest BOM Rainfall data point is at Callignee North. Annual mean rainfall for Callignee North is 866.1 (Carrajung South average rainfall is 700mm)

513 acres

2/3 Red Clay soils (and steep and hilly) and remainder is Brown Loams (creek flats). Soil testing indicates soil acidity could be affecting the availability of nutrients – Low pH (5, 4.5 in CaCl2) 2/3 Steep and hilly, and remainder creek flats (Steep terrain)

 

Pre-trial management:

Dairy farm, with 240-250 head of cattle. Block-graze for about 10 days and then apply a urea NPK blend.

Strong fertilizer history: apply a urea NPK blend frequently. Soil-test regularly and split their fertiliser applications to better match plant uptake and reduce the risk of run-off. Soils high in PKS.

Added a large amount of lime to the original property about five years ago.

Effluent water is used. DPI measure a delivery of 60kg per ha of potassium, 19kg of phosphorus and 56kg of nitrogen.

Summary of key findings of trial

Results from fertiliser test strips in pastures should be given greater weighting than pH level from soil tests.

Variations in soil C with time and management influence:

Paddock Date Soil type pH
1 01/12/2001 Clay loam (brown) 5.9
2 31/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 6.1
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.9
5 20/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 5.6
17/03/2005 Clay loam (brown) 5.7
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.4
8 20/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 5.8
9 19/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 5.5
17/03/2005 Clay loam (brown) 5.4
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.3
10 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 5.8
15/11/2007 Clay loam (black) 5.7
12 21/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 6
01/12/2001 Clay loam (brown) 5.8
13 21/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 6
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.4
14 30/10/1998 Clay loam (grey) 5.5
20/08/1999 5.7
16 15/11/2007 5.3
19 18/03/1998 Clay loam (grey) 7.7
31/08/1999 5.7
17/03/2005 5.3
15/11/2007 5.4
18 18/03/1996 Clay loam (grey) 7.4
20 31/10/1998 Clay loam (grey) 5.3
25/08/1999 5.4
17/03/2005 5.3
15/11/2007 5.5
24 15/11/2007 5.5
27 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 5.5
17/03/2005 5.5
28 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 5.5
30 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 5.6
31 20/08/1999 Clay loam (red) 5.8
15/11/2007 Clay loam (red) 5.4
P1 30/04/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.4
P2 30/04/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.3
P3 30/04/2007 Clay loam (brown) 5.6

Other soil treatments:

Paddock Date Soil type P K S
1 01/12/2001 Clay loam (brown) 26 583 25
2 31/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 21 920 24
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 63.3 843 23.5
5 20/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 16 300 31
17/03/2005 Clay loam (brown) 48 134 57
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 43.7 284 12
8 20/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 13 340 25
9 19/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 20 940 38
17/03/2005 Clay loam (brown) 52 159 40
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 42.1 343 17.8
10 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 16 85 22
15/11/2007 Clay loam (black) 50.6 238 14.2
12 21/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 31 1060 33
01/12/2001 Clay loam (brown) 40 360 23
13 21/08/1999 Clay loam (brown) 31 1060 33
15/11/2007 Clay loam (brown) 57.1 356 19.4
14 30/10/1998 Clay loam (grey) 10 333 23
20/08/1999 19 750 31
16 15/11/2007 52.1 195 27.8
19 18/03/1998 Clay loam (grey) 9 196 15
31/08/1999 25 165 25
17/03/2005 66 53 35
15/11/2007 45.6 118 20.6
18 18/03/1996 Clay loam (grey) 11 156 17
20 31/10/1998 Clay loam (grey) 9 145 12
25/08/1999 6 230 12
17/03/2005 30 111 47
15/11/2007 46.3 209 19.6
24 15/11/2007 59.8 179 20.3
27 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 21 790 24
17/03/2005 34 335 39
28 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 22 520 22
30 19/08/1999 Clay loam (black) 14 370 24
31 20/08/1999 Clay loam (red) 10 520 24
15/11/2007 Clay loam (red) 34.2 149 21.5
P1 30/04/2007 Clay loam (brown) 21 136 11
P2 30/04/2007 Clay loam (brown) 19.3 156 10.5
P3 30/04/2007 Clay loam (brown) 17.7 584 11

Experimental Design

Treatments:

Pre- test. Applied lime and some follow up tests. (Hard to establish an economic response to lime).

Date Paddocks Rate (lime)
2/5/2005 14-16 2.5T/ha
21/04/2008 14-20 2.5T/ha
13/04/2010 17, 41-45 3.5T/ha
13/04/2010 9 1.5T/ha

 

Date N P K S
2008/2009 117 9 17 9

Trial design/layout:

Whole-of-farm approach

 

Soil Sampling Method:

Soil tests conducted by Farmright Technical Services (previous soil tests conducted by various providers presented in results section) pH, P, K and full spectrum of chemical analysis. The following identifies the measured soil test elements over paddocks 13 and 19.

Analysis No 19 March 2010 No 13 March 2010
Phosphorus (Olsen) (Mg/kg) 45.8 63.9
Potassium (Colwell) (mg/kg) 192.0 571.0
Sulphur (KCl40) (mg/kg) 12.1 16.3
pH (1:5 water) 5.7 5.6
pH (CaCl2) 4.8 4.6
Salinity (1:5 water) (dS/m) 0.11 0.20
Organic carbon (%) 4.77 4.93
Nitrate (mg/kg) 16.0 42.0
Ammonium (mg/kg) 9.0 10.0
Copper (mg/kg) 0.73 1.62
Zinc (mg/kg) 3.04 6.33
Manganese (mg/kg) 19.2 68.5
Iron (mg/kg) 293.4 191.2
Boron (mg/kg) 0.5 0.8
Phosphorus (mg/kg) 131.0 203.0
Calcium (meq/100g) 9.08 8.69
Magnesium (meq/100g) 1.92 2.76
Sodium (meq/100g) 0.37 0.42
Potassium (meq/100g) 0.54 1.47
Aluminium (meq/100g) 0.33 0.57
CEC (meq/100g) 12.24 13.91

Reportage:

How the results have been reported:

Field day booklet

How a copy of any relevant reports can be obtained:

John Mulvany

Next steps

Important to consider whole of farm management when looking at soil health parameters.