The program engages farmers with science to make informed decisions about how they use fertiliser, which can push waterway ecosystems out of balance when applied in excess.
Since 2016, more than 1000 farmers have expanded their scientific literacy of soil and plant science, water quality, nutrient management, and biological ecosystems through the program. As a result, there has been a 46 per cent reduction in the amount of phosphorus (a nutrient of major concern) applied on participating farms.
Tim Crimp, local dairy farmer and chair of the program’s Sustainable Agriculture Project Reference Group, was delighted to hear that the efforts of farmers and the many partners involved in the program were being recognised.
“The fertiliser management program is a great example of science being put into action in the real world,” Tim said.
“As farmers taking part in the program, we get access to a range of experts to help us interpret the science behind what nutrients different areas of our farm need, enabling us to make decisions about our fertiliser use that are directly informed by the latest science.
“Having farmers and scientists working together like this helps us make sure we are making the best decisions we can for our farm’s production, while protecting the environment where excess nutrients can cause harm.
“Many farmers are really proactive in this space and welcome the opportunity to get involved in programs like Healthy Estuaries WA, but it’s not often we can share the good news about our efforts with the general community beyond our industry.”
Catchment groups in the catchments of seven focus estuaries are key partners in delivering the program, which is led by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
Shaun Ossinger from the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee said that the program is very much a team effort across many organisations.
“Being a finalist in the awards is a great show of thanks and congratulations to everyone involved in the program, including farmers, catchment groups, agronomists, and government scientists,” Shaun said.
“It’s fantastic to be part of this big team that is working together across the south-west corner of our state to protect our waterways, and empower farmers to make informed decisions about nutrient management.”