On farm trials

Alternative fertilisers and biological products

Improving soil health gained prominence in the mid 2000’s and farmers in the Woady Yaloak Catchment were interested to know if organic and biological products that appeared on the market could be used to replace traditional inorganic fertiliser. In 2009 the Group conducted a series of replicated trials on pastures and crops to compare against traditional fertiliser funded through the Caring for our Country Program. Results from the first three years of testing are presented.

Evaluating alternative fertilisers and biological products for pastures and crops - part 1  PDF logo

A common position by retailers of biological products is that treatment takes several years to take effect. Three trial sites from the first testing program were continued, with products applied each year.

One biological product from the initial testing showed significant yield response compared to traditional fertiliser at some sites. This warranted further investigation and the product was included in some lime testing sites and in paddock scale testing. The progress report will be available soon.

Soil acidity and liming

Increasing soil acidity has been a major issue for farmers in the Woady Yaloak Catchment. The problem was first noticed in the mid 1990’s, when soil tests taken as part of the pasture renovation program indicated low pH and elevated soil aluminium levels. Traditional thinking was that lime needed to be incorporated into the soil through cultivation to be effective, but many farmers were reluctant to destroy productive pastures simply to address soil pH. As an alternative, lime was applied to the soil surface and changes in soil pH monitored over time. Initial trials were conducted in 1999 as part of the Sustainable Grazing Systems Program and further soil testing was conducted in 2011 through a Caring for our Country grant.

Long term effects of surface applied lime in the Woady Yaloak Catchment


The impact of surface applied soft lime to soil conditions and pasture production in Western Victoria


Results from the alternative fertilisers and biological products trials from 2009 to 2011 suggested one treatment that included small but repeated application lime was providing a yield response. Further replicated trialling commenced in 2012 to compare a range of lime rates and liming frequencies. Additional trials were added in 2014.


In 2000 it was estimated there was 1,240 ha of land salting, with average water salinity in the Woady Yaloak River at Cressy at 5,300EC and rising. Saline discharge was concentrated around Pittong, the Illabarook hills and at Mt Mercer. Three Producer Participatory Research and Development sites were established in the Woady Yaloak Catchment as part of the Sustainable Grazing on Saline Land program. A copy of the final report is presented.

SGSL final report