Steve Hawken looks at the construction of a deep straw compost barn on his Echuca dairy farm as an investment in the future of his business.
Soil testing is the only way to accurately assess soil nutrient levels and tests can be conducted any time.
“It surprises me that more farmers don’t insist on soil testing every year,” said Jim Laycock, agronomist with Incitec Pivot Fertilisers.
“For less than $100 per sample, farmers can find out the soil’s key physical and chemical properties as well as the current phosphorus, potassium and sulphur levels,” he said.
“This allows farmers to employ targeted fertiliser programs that will help them achieve their grazing goals.”
Mr Laycock said soil testing in spring had a number of advantages.
“In spring, you can easily see and avoid any areas that are not representative of the whole paddock, such as stock camps, urine patches, soaks, tree lines, cow or sheep manure,” he said.
“The soil is moist, so it is easy to get the probe down to 10 cm accurately for a precise 0-10 cm sample.
“It’s often much more pleasant weather than getting out in the heat of summer too!”
Soil sample test results are completed within five days of being received by the company’s Nutrient Advantage laboratory in Werribee.
“This gives farmers plenty of time to plan their soil amendment and fertiliser purchases and arrange spreading, well before the peak autumn application time,” he said.
For best results, Mr Laycock said pasture topdressing should be completed before the autumn break.
He encouraged graziers to make a small investment in improving their farm’s productive potential this spring by insisting on soil testing.
“Graziers are welcome to submit soil samples directly to the laboratory or work with their local agronomist to arrange soil sampling, testing and fertiliser recommendations,” he said.