Nutrient management

Nutrient management

Nutrient management has taken centre stage in recent years with government targets to reduce dissolved nitrogen in water run-off into the Great Barrier Reef by at least 80 per cent by 2025.

A significant amount of research continues to be conducted into our ability to optimise nitrogen use in the crop cycle and thereby minimise losses to the environment, including enhanced efficiency and slow release fertilisers, climate forecasting and application technologies.

Out-dated nutrient management plans are being replaced with innovative best practice programs based on geo-referenced soil sampling, new programs helping to reduce the amount of fertiliser and other nutrients being used on farms, and cutting-edge machinery delivering nutrients directly to the roots of the plant reducing contaminated run-off.  

Michael Santarossa and his father Alan have introduced nutrient management plans, laser levelled their blocks and converted to a 1.8m row system. Their nutrient managment plans involve doing regular soil tests to make sure they are getting the inputs right for the optimum uptake of nutrients. Varying the rate of application based on the soil sample results often means using multiple mixes of fertiliser each year. Since making these changes they have had significantly higher yields than the district average. Read more.

Wet Tropics cane growers are benefitting from one-on-one nutrient planning sessions being delivered by the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP). Funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust III program, WTSIP’s Extension Officers provide individualised support to growers to help them improve farm run-off by refining their fertiliser use. Drew Watson farms in the Mossman district and says his whole-of-farm nutrient management plan is a valuable tool that saves him time and hassle. Read more


Drew also features in Season 7 of the Virtual Bus Tour Series, showcasing how farmers from Mossman to Maryborough are working to improve the quality of run-off into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon while running productive and profitable businesses. Take a look around the beautiful Wet Tropics where the Watson family have been farming for generations since the 1890s. Drew shares the numerous benefits of his whole-of-farm nutrient management plan which is helping him to reduce the loss of chemicals and fertilisers from his farm, benefiting his crops and the surrounding environment. Watch more.

Also in this section: Soil testing, SIX EASY STEPS and Fertiliser application improvements