Project Delivery: Western Dairy
Contact: Wendy Wilkins (SWCC – Bridgetown). Ph: 9761 4184
Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture
Start Date: May 2014 End Date: Dec 2017
Site ID: IN2.1.002
Size Are Ha: 12
The project’s main aims and objectives are two-fold; to measure the benefits of compost in respect of soil nutrient status, soil biology and soil organic matter content; and to provide the dairy industry in WA with a comprehensive insight into the financial costs of making compost on-farm as well as purchasing compost commercially.
Farmers find managing dairy effluent waste as an ongoing challenge, working with a product that is difficult to spread and that does pose a threat to groundwater through leaching of soluble phosphorus. In addition dairy farmers have other compostable resources on farm. There is an interest in the dairy farming community in compost but little understanding of quantifiable benefits both for the soils and for the farm business profitability. Farmers are looking for more knowledge before committing to making compost and hence this farmer driven project to more fully investigate the benefits of making compost on-farm.
Three farmers will be involved in this project. One farmer will produce compost on farm, one will use commercially available compost and the other will make compost on farm with a contractor involved in the turning of the compost throughout production.
All sites had compost applied around May 2015 and monitoring of the sites for pasture growth and grazing habit occurred during the 2015 growing season, ie June onwards.
A well attended field day was held at one of the trial sites in August 2015 and featured Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott of the University of Western Australia and Graeme Ward of Dairy Australia. The participating farmer also shared his experiences with the trial.
SWCC has produced a YouTube video about the trial and making compost which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCtfEcOp76I&feature=youtu.be
Although the results of the trial are yet to be determined, the participant farmer making his own compost recently said he would continue with the practice after the trial. He said he has a “gut instinct” that it is good for his soil health and he is happy to go through the extra steps to make the compost as he has the materials required and it is easier to handle than raw effluent.
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