Fertiliser Partnership overview

Page last updated: Thursday, 1 December 2016 - 10:58am

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Outlined below is the intent, objectives and strategies of the Fertiliser Partnership, and the commitment expected of signatory partners.

Intent

The Western Australian government recognises:

  • the value and importance of maintaining and improving the health of aquatic environments for the benefit of current and future generations of Western Australians
  • that the production of agricultural goods and services is essential to society
  • the enjoyment of household gardens, parks, and recreational grounds is central to the lifestyle of Western Australians.

The government also recognises that this can only be achieved through collaborative effort with, and involvement of, the broad community. To this end, it has initiated a partnership with the fertiliser industry, fertiliser user groups, and peak non-government organisations to foster a cooperative working relationship to reduce fertiliser nutrient loss to aquatic environments.

The Fertiliser Partnership 2012-2016 supersedes the Fertiliser Action Plan (FAP) 2007.

Background

Coastal aquatic environments in Western Australia, such as the Swan-Canning estuary and the Peel-Harvey estuary, are under increasing pressure due to land use changes in the catchment that have altered natural water and nutrient cycles.

Extensive land use changes including urbanisation and agriculture have resulted in the gradual accumulation of substantial nutrient stores. These nutrient stores gradually discharge to aquatic environments leading to degradation in water quality and reduced biodiversity.

Regular additions of fertilisers, organic matter and other materials are usually required to attain satisfactory plant growth rates. When fertilisers are applied at rates in excess of the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients this frequently results in nutrient loss to aquatic environments and may contribute to soil acidity.

Leaching of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, presents a major problem in the predominantly sandy soils of the Swan and Scott Coastal Plains. Sandy soils are inherently low in fertility, have poor water-holding capacities, are water repellent, and do not retain nutrients. Considerable effort by government and the community over many decades has gone into rectifying these issues in the Peel-Harvey and Swan-Canning catchments. Nevertheless recent Water Quality Improvement Plans endorsed by government have confirmed that a goal of 50% reduction of nutrient loss is still required to bring health back to these waterways.

Addressing nutrient loss from sandy soils, including nutrients stored in soil from previous fertiliser applications, is essential to the effective long-term management of Western Australia’s waterways and wetlands. Improved fertiliser efficiency, enhanced use of soil amendments and management of soil acidity will play an important role in this regard.

The Fertiliser Partnership establishes a cooperative partnership between the Western Australian government, the fertiliser industry, users groups and the community to reduce nutrient loss into aquatic ecosystems from fertilisers. The partnership seeks continuous improvement in this regard through working groups and their programs.

Objectives

The objectives of the Fertiliser Partnership 2012-2016 are to:

  • contribute to a goal of 50% reduction in nutrient loss to waterways and wetlands on the Swan and Scott Coastal Plains
  • optimise the content of fertiliser and nutrient binding soil amendment products to better suit conditions on the Swan and Scott Coastal Plains
  • improve fertiliser and water use efficiency in both commercial and residential settings whilst maintaining productivity of agriculture and related commercial operations
  • educate the community on the environmental and social values of aquatic ecosystems, including waterways and wetlands
  • educate the community on fertiliser efficiency, water use efficiency and the benefits of managing soil acidity.

Strategies

The most appropriate strategies to achieve the objectives of the Fertiliser Partnership 2012-2016 are through the:

  • development and promotion of low phosphorus fertiliser products
  • development and promotion of ‘best practice’ fertiliser use and management in broadscale agriculture (grazing), horticulture and other related commercial activities and urban land use applications
  • development and promotion of ‘best practice’ based on relevant accredited programs and advisors
  • research, development and trials of nutrient binding soil amendment products to improve nutrient use efficiency and reduce nutrient loss to waterways
  • development and promotion of educational material on fertiliser use efficiency.

Commitment of parties

By becoming a signatory to the Fertiliser Partnership 2012-2016 partners agree to:

  • use their best endeavours to achieve the relevant objectives and strategies of the Fertiliser Partnership
  • provide annual updates to government about progress in achieving the relevant objectives and strategies of the Fertiliser Partnership
  • promote amongst their membership or clients their actions under the Fertiliser Partnership
  • participate in the relevant working group meetings and promote the uptake of ‘best practice’ fertiliser use within their industry
  • support the Fertiliser Partnership through sharing of information between parties and working groups.

The Western Australian government agrees to:

  • use its best endeavours to achieve the objectives and strategies of the Fertiliser Partnership
  • provide support for research and development and trials to promote the objectives of the Fertiliser Partnership as identified by the working groups
  • undertake an evaluation of the effectiveness and implementation of strategies in the Fertiliser Partnership 2012-2016 to help inform future approaches.

Certificate of Partnership

A Certificate of Partnership will be awarded to partners.