Environment Minister David Templeman today announced the next phase of the State Government’s Fertiliser Action Plan.
The Fertiliser Action Plan is a key strategy to protect water quality and biodiversity in Western Australia’s rivers, streams and catchments, while ensuring agricultural productivity can be maintained
Mr Templeman said the demonstration phase was an essential part of the plan to phase-out highly water soluble phosphorus fertilisers in environmentally-sensitive areas in the south-west of the State by 2011.
The Minister said he hoped a demonstration phase, where low water soluble phosphorus fertilisers would be trialled on site at selected farms, would show farmers that high productivity, cost effectiveness and river protection could all be achieved with the alternative products.
“There has been uncertainty in the farming community about the effectiveness of low water soluble phosphorus fertilisers,” he said.
“It is critical to the success of the Fertiliser Action Plan that we gain their confidence.
“I hope that through this demonstration phase we can reassure the agricultural community that their productivity need not be compromised by the use of low water soluble products.
“It is also important that farmers understand they are not being singled out because this will also affect home gardeners, who often tend to apply fertiliser in higher concentration.”
Mr Templeman said it was intended that high water soluble phosphorus fertiliser products for home use would be phased out within the next year, while similar products for commercial use would still be available until 2011 to allow time for the demonstration process.
“I have invited key stakeholders to sign up for working groups to provide ongoing input and guidance on the implementation of this important policy,” he said.
“The advice and expertise of WA Farmers in the preparation and implementation of the Fertiliser Action Plan has been invaluable and I hope to continue that fruitful relationship.”
The Minister also thanked the fertiliser industry for its co-operation and support to date and urged them not use the phase-out as an excuse for a price increase.
“My advice is that there is no reason why prices should be increased simply because the fertiliser composition has been modified,” he said.
Mr Templeman said the implementation phase followed consultation on the Action Plan, including 22 public submissions and a fertiliser symposium, after its release in March 2007.
“Feedback shows that the majority of stakeholders broadly support the need to address the impact of high phosphorus levels on coastal waterways,” he said.
The program will be run jointly by the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Food, supported by the Department of Water and the Swan River Trust.
Mr Templeman said he would also ask the Environmental Protection Authority to prepare a State Environmental Policy for phosphorus fertilisers as a further measure to protect wetlands and waterways from the impacts of these fertilisers.
A stakeholder report on the plan and the plan itself can be found at http://www.naturebase.net
Minister's office - 9220 5050