- How do we know we need a 50% reduction in nutrients to our waterways?
Analysis based on the best available information on nutrient loss in catchments has been compiled in the Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) for the key estuaries and waterways of the Swan and Scott Coastal Plains. These show that the level of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) going into waterways need to be reduced by 30 to 90% for most catchments. Major estuaries like the Swan-Canning and Peel-Harvey and waterways like the Vasse-Wonnerup and Geographe Bay require at least a 50% reduction in nutrients. The WQIPs can be viewed at Water Quality Improvement Plans
- How will we measure progress against the Objectives, especially the Objective of 50% reduction into waterways?
Measuring progress against water quality objectives is a worldwide challenge. This is because the extent of change in water quality depends on many factors, including the uptake of management practices of different types. Additionally, a large uptake of suitable management practices will not lead to immediate changes in water quality. In other words, there are lags in water quality changes as catchments equilibrate to management changes, and these lags can last many years. It is likely therefore that in the short to medium term, progress will have to be measured using surrogate indicators such as the level of uptake of various management practices, or the exceedance of surrogate indicators such as soil test targets.
- How will the FP improve communication across Working Groups and with Government agencies?
The FP will establish formal reporting arrangements and administrative support for the working groups. Working groups and partners are encouraged to share their activities and place relevant material on the Fertiliser Partnership web page.
- What are Working Groups and what do they do?
Working Groups are an effective way for respective fertiliser industry and user organizations to participate in the collective development of best practice fertiliser management for their industry. Several working groups that were established under the Fertiliser Action Plan will continue. These groups will be better supported under the Fertiliser Partnership as there is a coordinated administrative arrangement between State agencies and the working groups. See Governance arrangements here.
- How is best practice implemented?
Accredited advisors such as Fertcare advisors are required to follow best practice as approved by the relevant working group when providing advice to farmers. This advice will subsequently be checked through audits. Where industry specific environmental or quality assurance programs are accredited and best practice approved by the relevant working group, industry bodies are to provide that advice to their members.
- What is meant by best practice?
Best practice in the Fertiliser Partnership context is any industry-based practice approved by the relevant working group.
Annual Reporting (of working groups)
- What can annual reports include?
Agencies and working groups will report on: progress against any funded projects under the partnership; publications or extension activities aimed at achieving the Objectives of the FP; progress on the uptake of best practice by industry; any related research or findings from field trials and progress against Strategies of the FP.
Advisors & accredited programs
- What is meant by accredited programs and advisor's?
Accredited advisors are either Fertcare trained and approved or are advisors who are independently audited. Accredited programs are environmental or quality assurance programs that have requirements for nutrient management within the program. These programs are usually industry specific, nationally approved and independently audited.
- Who do I approach to get my farm soil tested?
Major fertiliser companies and agronomic service providers offer soil testing kits that allow a DIY approach to soil testing. Follow the advice or instructions provided in the soil test kit to obtain a representative soil sample from your paddocks or soil types. Then submit the sample for analysis. When you have received your results, seek professional advice to interpret your soil test results before embarking on a fertiliser program.
Major fertiliser companies and agronomic service providers can soil test for you. Whichever approach you use for soil testing, ensure that your samples are tested in a laboratory that is certified by Australian Soil and Plant Analysis Council (ASPAC). Ensure that the laboratory you choose can undertake analysis that is applicable to Western Australia (WA) and has been calibrated for use in WA.
- What is Fertcare?
Fertcare is a joint initiative between the Australian Fertiliser Services Association (AFSA) and the Fertiliser Industry Federation of Australia (FIFA). Fertcare is a training, quality assurance, certification and accreditation program delivered by independent third parties on behalf of the fertilizer industry. The various parts of the program are brought together by a licensing system. The program scope includes environment, food safety and occupational health and safety issues associated with fertiliser and soil ameliorant products throughout the supply chain.
- Who will enforce the Regulations?
The Department of Environment and Conservation will enforce the Regulations.
- Where can I get a copy of the Regulations?
From the State Law Publisher’s website
- Who can I contact for information about the Regulations?
The Department of Environment and Conservation – Ph: (08) 6467 5454
- How will the Fertiliser Partnership affect importers of fertiliser products?
The Regulations place obligations on packaged fertiliser manufacturers and retailers of fertilisers intended for sale in Western Australia. Therefore, importers of fertilisers that will be sold in Western Australia must comply with the Regulations.
- What do we mean by 'soil amendments'?
Soil amendments are products that raise the capacity of a soil to retain phosphorus (P) so that the risk of soluble P loss is reduced whilst retaining available P for plant uptake.
- What else can soil amendments do?
Some soil amendments provide additional benefits such as retention of nitrogen (N), water retention, reduced non-wetting, and increased soil pH (reduced soil acidity). These properties can enhance productivity and reduce the loss of nutrients to the environment.
- Why use soil amendments?
The use of soil amendments is a key recommendation of all the WQIPs and is an essential complement to nutrient management activities in the Fertiliser Partnership (FP). In many catchments the P reduction required to meet water quality targets in the receiving waters cannot be achieved without the use of soil amendments.
- Are soil amendments safe? Aren’t they radioactive?
Many soil amendments have undergone significant testing to determine both potential positive and negative impacts of their use. This has involved laboratory and field trials over long periods of time. Soil amendments that have been tested against a standard and rigorous set of criteria are deemed safe for use. Most parts of the natural environment contain safe background levels of radiation. Soil amendments only contain safe background levels of radiation similar to the soil materials from which they have been derived.
- How will soil amendments be tested?
Materials to be used as soil amendments need to be assessed for their safety in the environment where they will be used. The total amount of potential contaminants, the radioactivity and other factors such as physical characteristics of a material and their propensity to leach initially needs to be determined in the laboratory and then confirmed at a range of scales on their effect on water quality, human health livestock and plant growth. The Department of Environment and Conservation approves the use of soil amendments as in the case of the lime amended bioclay produced by Water Corporation.