Fertiliser and its application play an important role in increasing agricultural productivity and providing the required food to meet current and future demands. However, it is also a significant input cost which makes it vital to ensure that you are able to get the best return on your dollars invested.
Improved productivity gives farmers greater spending power, with increased ability to invest in rural communities and improve the livelihood and wellbeing of all those who rely on agriculture and its economic impacts.
Farmers are constantly looking for the most cost effective products and techniques in order to optimise returns from fertiliser use. While looking to save valuable dollars, this also provides an opportunity for unscrupulous operators to market products unethically with unproven and doubtful claims.
The Australian Fertiliser Services Association (AFSA) and Fertilizer Australia recognise that intensification, including fertiliser use, can harm the environment when used inappropriately. In 2005, the national stewardship program, Fertcare®was introduced with a strong commitment to effectively manage environmental and food safety issues.
Fertcare is now a nationally recognized image for best practice fertilizer supply, advice and contract application. It is about promoting productivity while protecting the environment and has three main components; Fertcare training, Fertcare Accredited Advisor and Accu-Spread®.
AFSA chairman, Craig Swan says that a Fertcare trained operator or advisor and an Accu-Spread tested machine are essential elements in best practice fertiliser application and ensuring you achieve optimum productivity.
“A farmer can spend $40 per hectare on fertilizer for pasture. An uneven fertiliser application can cost another $40 per hectare in lost production, effectively doubling the fertiliser cost. By using an accredited Fertcare adviser and an Accu-Spread contractor you can avoid this extra cost and improve your bottom line” he says.
The Fertcare program trains industry staff in the competencies required to meet their responsibilities for food safety and environmental risk management. It includes the competency to warn, advise and refer customers to information about risks and how to manage them.
By using objective measurements such as soil and plant testing, appropriate analysis and interpretation methods, we are able to match nutrient supply to crop requirements and thereby reduce the potential for off-site nutrient impact.
Fertcare Accredited Advisors are independently assessed and audited to ensure that the fertiliser recommendations they make are based on good practice and accepted science, which gives confidence in their recommendations. They also understand the four rights of nutrient stewardship, applying the right product, at the right rate, right time and right place.
The Accu-Spread program assesses and certifies the spreading width and uniformity of fertiliser application machinery. By using a professional Accu-Spread contractor for fertiliser application, farmers can be assured that they are applying the correct rate of fertiliser where it is required in the landscape.
Fertiliser spreaders can deliver highly variable spread patterns which may have a significant effect on profitability. Different fertiliser products have different physical characteristics and so they also spread differently. An Accu-Spread machine will have test graphs, and different bout widths for each type of product spread which will assist to ensure that optimum profit is achieved in each situation.
“You would not have your stock or grain moved by an unlicensed transport operator, so why have your fertiliser applied by an unaccredited contractor? It’s a no brainer really, just check that your contractor is Accu-Spread accredited.” said Craig Swan.
The listing of Fertcare Accredited Advisors and Accu-Spread contractors can be found at www.fertcare.com.au
Picture: Swan Brothers Operations Manager, Shaun Cunneen and Craig Swan discuss their Accu-spread fertiliser testing for the coming season