What is Fert$mart?
Fert$mart is a program initiated by Dairy Australia in response to a need identified by the Dairy Moving Forward Committee.
Fert$mart encompasses the dairy industry's national nutrient management guidelines, developed to improve the efficicency and profitability of fertiliser use, and to improve soil health on Australian dairy farms.
Fert$mart is founded on the best available science which is now accessible online in the Dairy Soils and Fertiliser Manual.
Fert$mart also provides easy-to-follow planning steps to guide farmers and advisors with fertiliser planning and decision making.
Fert$mart Planning is the key to knowing how and when to use the industry's tool box including:
- Feed budgeting;
- Soil and pasture condition assessments:
- Soil and plant tissue testing;
- Nutrient budgeting;
- Nutrient loss risk assessment;
- Nutrient mapping;
- 4Rs recommendations; and
- Record keeping and more.
Industry management practices (DairySAT) for soil, fertiliser, effluent and irrigation have also been updated to reflect recent advances in science, technologies and understanding.
Who uses Fert$mart?
Fert$mart is used by dairy farmers, farm managers, agronomists, farm advisors, fertiliser retailers, dairy education and catchment groups.
Fert$mart has already been used to prepare over 30 whole-farm soil and fertiliser management plans in the Fert$mart Planning Pilots.
The National Centre for Dairy Education Australia (NCDEA) will also link directly to the Fert$mart website for online student learning resources.
What are the Benefits?
Many farmers are now finding that when they get soil and fertiliser management 'right', they can produce more feed at no extra cost, and with careful planning fertiliser becomes a strategic tool to boost feed when it's most needed.
Fert$mart helps farmers and advisors to make more informed cost-effective fertiliser management decisions.
Pasture production depends on sound use of fertilisers, and it is important to understand soil conditions and what is limiting production if best results are to be achieved from fertiliser use.
Regular soil testing is necessary to make informed decisions on fertiliser use, and the ability to interpret these results is the key to making the most cost-effective fertiliser choice.
It is also important to understand the balance of nutrients in our farming systems.
The environmental impact of nutrients lost from our farming systems can be severe, and lost nutrients are also wasted money.
An improved understanding of nutrient management will assist in the well-being of our waterways and in maintaining a healthy environment well into the future.
A new chapter in the Dairy Soils and Fertiliser Manual has been introduced to help farmers and advisors with this increasingly important area.
Another area with increasing interest has been soil biology and soil health. Many dairy farmers are now recognising that productive soils are those with good soil structure, optimum fertility and are biologically active.
A new chapter on soil biology removes some of 'mystery and myths' around managing soil organisms in a productive dairy system.
Fert$mart is also an investment in our future - Our future dairy farmers, and our future advisors.
Fert$mart is a key resource for dairy education, particularly for the NCDEA.
How was Fert$mart developed?
Fert$mart was developed with direction from the 'Australian Dairy Industry National Nutrient Management Guidelines Steering Committee' which was establiushed in December 2011.
The project coordinator acted on direction from the steering committee to implement the project.
The concepts proposed by the steering committee were drafted into a Discussion Paper which was presented to the wider industry for consultation.
Eight facilitated workshops involving 135 participants were held during August to September 2012 and included all Australian dairy regions.
Feedback from the dairy industry was then compiled into a Regional Fert$mart Workshop Report.
Acting on industry guidance the Fert$mart program was fully developed, tested and refined with 3 regioanl Fert$mart Planning Pilots, involving 33 farmers and 12 farm advisors.
Fert$mart will continue to evolve as we learn more about soils and fertiliser.
Who are the investors?
Fert$mart was funded by Dairy Australia and the Australian Government's Caring for our Country Program, along with significant additional resources from many other contributing individuals and organisations.