fert$mart – good for farmers – good for environment

Farmers from across the central Gippsland region are showing their commitment to a better environment by signing up to a new round of funding of the Fert$mart program. 

The program delivered by local agronomists and funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program is supported by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, Gippsland Water and GippsDairy. The program assists farmers to better manage their use of fertilisers and effluent to produce more on-farm profit and reduce nutrient run off into local waterways. 

“We’ve seen more than 50 farm businesses sign up to this round of funding which is really encouraging given the strain that some of these businesses have been under over the last 12 to 18 months,” said Shayne Haywood, Land Team Leader at the WGCMA. 

The current funding will see farmers in Corner Inlet, Gormandale and the Macalister Irrigation District work with agronomists and attend workshops to gain greater insights into how they are using fertilisers on their farms and reduce the run-off into creeks, streams and rivers. 

“The basic doctrine of Fert$mart is that, by getting soil and fertiliser management ‘right’, farmers should be able to produce more feed at no extra cost,” added Shayne. 

While the Fert$mart program has been around a few years and the positive outcomes for participants are reasonably well known, new recruits to the program can sometimes feel reluctant to sign up. 

Toora dairy farmer Andrew Bacon had done plenty of homework on his fertiliser regime and didn’t think there was much improvement to be found. But what he found by doing a Fert$mart course helped him save thousands of dollars. 

“I was very sceptical, I’ve done a lot of courses and background work to get my knowledge to where it is now and I didn’t feel that it was going to greatly enhance anything that I have already done but we think we will save at least $40,000 this year,” said Andrew. 

Shayne Haywood says Andrew’s story is not uncommon. 

“Farmers have many years of experience managing their properties, applying fertiliser, managing stocking rates doing all the things they need to do to make a profit. So, when someone comes along and says, ‘Hey guys, we can help you save thousands of dollars!’ It’s not surprising that they are a sceptical. 

“But what they see is a program that brings an industry body in GippsDiary, a state government organisation in the CMA, the Federal Government through the NLP and the private sector through the agronomist input, to come up with really positive results for the farmer as well as the environment,” concluded Shayne. 

Updates and case studies from the 2020 Fert$mart program will be available in coming months at wgcma.vic.gov.au 

This project is supported by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Published Friday February 28th 2020

Dairy cows
Fert$mart programs can help farmers save money while assisting the environment.