Fertilisers for pastures guide
This booklet is a guide to help landholders make better fertiliser decisions for their pastures. Much of the information comes from a major grazing project on the Camden district dairy farm at Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. The findings have been combined with results from other fertiliser trials.
The information targets the higher rainfall (over 750mm) districts of eastern NSW, grazing mostly dairy, beef cattle or horses under relatively high stocking rates. It is also suitable for farmers grazing goats, sheep, alpaca and donkeys. The pastures in this region are generally rainfed with some
properties using supplementary irrigation.
In this zone, many of the soils are weathered and low in nutrients and organic matter. The soils may have other features that also limit pasture growth eg shallow depth, acidity and salinity. An assessment of these factors is a necessary part of making better fertiliser decisions.
The need for fertilisers is closely related to the intensity of production. Dairy farms require high inputs due to high grazing intensity and continuous product removal. On the other hand, pastures grazed at lower stocking rates such as a beef breeding enterprise or horses, have a much lower need for fertilisers.
A very wide range of products is available, from conventional, factory-made fertilisers to the raw, organic alternatives derived from animal manure or food processing wastes. Some products contain a mixture of both materials.
This book covers the basics of soil testing and outlines the effect of acidity, salinity and sodicity on soil fertility. There is information on individual nutrients, cation exchange capacity, trace minerals and nutrient budgets. There are sections on using organic materials as fertilisers, on how to use plant and animal symptoms to detect nutrient deficiencies and on animal health issues involving fertiliser.
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