Project Delivery: West Arthur Trials Group / Shire of West Arthur
Contact: Danielle Short (Narrogin). Ph 9881 0202. Email: Danielle.firstname.lastname@example.org
Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture
Start Date: June 2014 End Date: Dec 2017
Site ID: SH2
Size Are Ha: 3
A farm scale trial will be undertaken over four years to determine the efficacy and action of two different custom fertiliser products recommended by Hi Tech Ag and Australian Mineral Fertilisers that seem to be effective, despite going against current common scientific understanding.
The Grantee has been trialing these products in problem paddocks to improve the nutrient efficiency ratio, to overcome the deleterious effects of naturally occurring “toxic” elements, such as Al and Na and to improve pasture and crop quality and quantity. Positive crop responses have been observed, and this trial aims to conduct an independent investigation into the impact of the products on soil and plant health, as well as gain an understanding of how the products work.
This long-term project will follow three separate replicated strip trials on the property.
The main trial (3ha in a 45ha paddock of permanent pasture P14) will randomly allocate three blocks of each of the following six treatments:
- No treatment (control)
- Farmer practise
- Hi Tech Ag liquid soil treatments with biological agents
- Hi Tech Ag liquid soil treatments without biological agents
- Australian Mineral Fertiliser treatments with biological agents
- Australian Mineral Fertiliser treatments without biological agents
The treatments will be applied in strips 11m wide, with 13m between plots for a buffer with the trial site. A section will be fenced off to prevent sheep from grazing for particular periods while pasture measures are taken.
Monitoring will be undertaken in two additional paddocks:
• A Hi Tech Ag regime will be trialled (three different treatments and three controls) on a permanent pasture paddock (K10; 12 ha within a 63ha paddock).
• The Australian Mineral Fertiliser regime outcomes will be compared with common farmer practice on a cropping paddock (P10; 4ha in a 100ha paddock).
Monitoring of these paddocks with independent soil tests and crop health/ growth measures will assist in verifying company claims and broaden the main trial as each paddock has different soil types and management history. To assess the impacts of the treatments on the soil, pre-trial and post trial radio metric mapping will be undertaken. These will be supported with annual soil tests, analysing comprehensive nutrient status in the surface soil and pH, EC and Al to depth in the main trial (P14), with additional sampling in the Hi Tech Ag and Australian Mineral Fertiliser specific trials. Soil microbes will be monitored across the sites through measuring soil microbial biomass carbon and utilising UWA’s MicroBlitz project where possible to support data collected. Changes in soil water repellency will be monitored using water drop penetration time and penetrometer measures (pending equipment availability).
To assess the impacts of the treatments on the crop and pasture, the following measurements will be collected; germination counts, pasture variety photographs, pasture cuts/ plate meter to measure biomass , crop weed levels, crop tissue tests, root weights and nodulation counts, crop yield (weigh trailer/ header reading at harvest time and samples measured by CBH for quality).
November Update: The West Arthur Trials Group held a successful Spring Bus Tour in October attended by approximately 30 people. Whilst there was not much visible differences in the 2014 trial plots, the farmer’s 2013 trial showed a striking visual difference in the density and of the species growing in the treated area. This difference was the motivation for the farmer to trial the products further and to seek out answers for the impact in the pasture growth and quality. It certainly caused much debate between farmers and a lot of scratching of heads! Watch this space as the exciting and interesting results come in!!
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