The '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. The information package provides a better framework for understanding and planning the use of phosphorus (P) fertilisers.
The tools are 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 tools.
Support tools rather than a decision-making tools
The calculations of potential stocking rate and the P-inputs required to build and maintain soil fertility used in these tools are based on data from field trials. However, there are a number of reasons why the tools should be used primarily to support your thinking and fertiliser decisions, rather than as decision-making tools.
The tools have 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 tools should be used in consultation with your fertiliser advisor, ensuring that any local issues that may require attention are considered.
The ‘Five Easy Steps’ software tool and booklet were developed by CSIRO and Industry and NSW Department of Primary Industries with financial assistance from Pastures Australia, which was a joint venture for investment in the generic improvement, management and adoption of pasture plants across Australia. Pastures Australia partners were: Meat and Livestock Australia, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, Australian Wool Innovation Ltd., Dairy Australia and the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.