Western Dairy helps Western Australian dairy farmers access local and national research relating to fertiliser, feeding systems and nutrient management.
WA dairy pastures are predominantly annual ryegrass in a winter rainfall growing system. However, clover and other species are grown to optimise feed quality and quantity. Western Dairy encourages best practice pasture management and support in managing the grazing system.
The WA Seed Performance (WASP) Trials are coordinated by Western Dairy to provide data on annual ryegrass brands and varieties. Dairy farmers are using these insights to make choices about which pastures they grow. More information on these trials is available from Western Dairy.
Western Dairy supports the efficient use of fertilisers — an approach that is especially critical in the sandy soils of WA's south-west. WA soils are mostly acidic and are subject to the leaching of nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium. Western Dairy recommends farmers monitor soil health carefully by conducting regular soil and plant analysis to establish which nutrients, and what quantities, are required for optimum pasture and crop production.
Western Dairy has worked closely with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) on the Greener Pastures Project for many years. This project was established to assist the WA dairy industry meet the two major challenges in managing high performance pasture systems: maintaining profitability, and maintaining a social/community licence to operate.
The Greener Pastures Project has required several years of trials on local dairy farms to develop relevant data and recommendations for fertiliser use in dairy pasture production.
For further information on pasture management you can visit the pasture management section on WA Government's Agriculture and Food website.
Western Dairy has relevant and timely information for dairy farmers regarding fertiliser, feeding systems and nutrient management.
Western Dairy’s quarterly newsletter The Feed Trough features seasonal information and tips to support the farm feedbase and animal nutrition decision-making.
Contact Western Dairy to subscribe.
South-west Western Australia's sandy soils demand smarter use of fertilisers. In WA, subsoil leaching means pastures are prone to potassium deficiency. Western Dairy promotes smarter use of fertilisers, a philosophy that is especially critical in the sandy soils of the south-west.
Potassium-deficient ryegrass has a lower metabolisable energy content. In order to get the most out of home-grown feed, this is worth following through plant testing.
Plant testing should be done at the three leaf stage, just prior to grazing.
Minimum potassium content
- Aim for 1.5% dry matter (DM) potassium content in ryegrass-dominant swards
- Aim for 2% DM potassium content for clover tissue tests, because clover has a higher potassium requirement than ryegrass
Soil testing for potassium content is not recommended, as it has proven to be an unreliable indicator for dry matter responses in ryegrass.
Potassium fertiliser should be applied with nitrogen and sulphur in multiple applications after each grazing.
Western Dairy supports dairy farmers to optimise the management of their dairy effluent through the Dairy Care program, which includes on-farm effluent system reviews by the Western Dairy team. For further information, contact Western Dairy. For information on industry best practice, download the below guidelines.
Potassium Fertiliser for Ryegrass Pastures(09 July 2020)PDF, 459.01 KB
Code of Practice for Dairy Farm Effluent Management WA - Western Australia(11 June 2021)PDF, 7.75 MB
Plants require 17 nutrients to grow. Fertiliser is one way of providing the plants with the required nutrients.
Macro-nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium and magnesium are required in larger amounts than micro-nutrients.
The following pages contain more information about nitrogen fertilisers, maintenance of macro-nutrients, soil tests and Fert$mart.
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Phone: 08 9778 5111
PO Box 5066
Bunbury WA 6230
Western Dairy Hub
T +61 8 9778 5111
C/o Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
1 Verschuer Place
Bunbury WA 6230