The soil phosphorus tool or 'Five Easy Steps' allows producers and advisors to understand the value of soil testing and how to use soil test information to plan fertiliser and livestock investments. It is designed as a framework for understanding and planning the use of phosphorus (P) fertilisers.
The tool is intended to assist producers in determining suitable levels of P-fertilisation of temperate pastures grazed by sheep and beef cattle on acid soils in southern Australia. However, fertiliser decisions are made by the user – not the tool.
Support tool rather than a decision-making tool
The calculations of potential stocking rate and the P-inputs required to build and maintain soil fertility used in the tool are based on data from field trials. However, there are a number of reasons why the tool should be used primarily to support your thinking and fertiliser decisions, rather than as a decision-making tool.
It is intended that your use of this tool should be informed by reading the accompanying Five Easy Steps technical booklet (v2.1.0). The booklet provides more information concerning the evidence that underpins each step and the level of confidence associated with the calculations.
The tool has not been tested in every soil situation. Results should be applicable in most areas of southern Australia. However, there is always the potential for location-specific issues that have not been captured in the underpinning research.
For these and other reasons, it is usually best to develop a soil fertility management schedule that will be followed over a number of years and to monitor it with annual soil testing. Ideally the tool should be used in consultation with your fertiliser advisor, ensuring that any local issues that may require attention are considered.