Organic fertilisers (animal wastes and plant residues) must be broken down into inorganic forms in the soil before plants can take up the nutrients required for growth and reproduction.
Organic fertilisers are relatively inefficient because they contain low concentrations of nutrients and hence, large volumes of material need to be transported and spread over fields to overcome deficiencies. Also, organic fertilisers take time to breakdown into inorganic forms and become available to plants.
In contrast, inorganic fertilisers have a high concentration of nutrients that are rapidly available for plant uptake. Relatively small quantities of inorganic fertilisers are required and transport and application costs are low. In addition, inorganic fertilisers can be formulated to apply the appropriate ratio of nutrients to meet plant growth requirements.
While organic fertiliser can be useful in small scale horticulture, broad-acre farmers in WA quickly realised by that inorganic fertilisers were the most effective source of nutrients and enabled them to produce profitable crops and pastures on our infertile soils. The state government recognised the importance of inorganic fertiliser for the development of WA agriculture and subsidies were introduced to encourage the use of superphosphate on newly cleared land.
Today a wide range of inorganic fertilisers are still required to maintain soil fertility and sustainable agricultural systems in WA. Most farmers understand that without inorganic fertilisers the productivity of their crops and pastures will drop, and soil nutrient levels will decline rapidly. In a few years time, yields will be unprofitable, even though input costs will be much less.
There is ongoing public debate about the benefits of organic farming compared to conventional agriculture using inorganic fertilisers, but there is little evidence to suggest that organic approaches have less environmental impacts. Inorganic fertilisers improve ground cover and reduce water runoff, and minimise the risk of overgrazing and soil erosion. By improving plant growth, inorganic fertilisers also increase soil organic matter and microbial activity. Activities of soil macro-fauna like earthworms and insects are often enhanced.
CSBP continues to promote the responsible use of inorganic fertilisers and is the first company to achieve Fertcare® accreditation in Western Australia. Our unique NUlogic soil and plant analysis model is based on decades of field trials under WA conditions, providing farmers with reliable recommendations for fertiliser use.
CSBP continues to develop its extensive range of inorganic fertilisers for WA soils, and is currently manufacturing and testing low water soluble fertilisers in leaching sands on the Swan Coastal Plain. This has the potential to provide farmers with more options for improving fertiliser management and environmental care.