Pocket the Fert$mart savings

Farmers who want to cut their fertiliser budgets are being urged to sign up for Fert$mart courses being offered in the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) and Jack and Albert rivers catchment areas.

Fert$mart is offering farmers in these areas the chance to get expert advice on fertiliser and soil management, with a local agronomist supporting them to:

  • complete soil and effluent pond testing
  • conduct a combination of one-on-one farm visits and group workshops with other farmers in your area
  • create a nutrient management plan for your dairy business plus on-farm advice on actions to reduce nutrient runoff

Dairy farmers who have previously participated in the program encouraged MID and Jack and Albert rivers farmers to sign onto Fert$mart.

Andrew Bacon, who milks 390 cows at Toora said he had slashed $40,000 from his fertiliser budget after doing the Fert$mart course.

“We have already implemented the winding back of our phosphorous and potassium use and going straight nitrogen. Previously we would run blend all the time,” he said.

“We think we will save at least $40,000 this year over what we used to do.”

For Loch farmer Kate Kirk, the program helped create a strategy for more cost effective use of fertilisers.

“It turned out all of our levels of everything were high everywhere on our farm, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about reducing our annual application,” she said.

“We kept the urea up, but we reduced the annual application from about 600 kilos to 400 kilos, which is a saving of about 70 dollars a hectare.”

Martin Fuller, CEO of WGCMA said Andrew and Kate’s experiences were typical of farmers who complete the Fert$mart program.

“The consistent message we’ve had from previous participants is that they have saved money and been able to grow just as much, if not more grass than before,” Mr Fuller said.

“It’s a win-win when farmers can improve their business outcomes while reducing the environmental effects of fertiliser applications.”

Numbers are limited so register early to avoid disappointment by providing your name, contact details and address by email or phone to GippsDairy regional extension officer Donna Gibson on 0409 178 624 or donna@gippsdairy.com.au

Go to www.wgcma.vic.gov.au to download the info pack. Be sure to register your interest early!

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