The Australian Soil Fertility Manual

This manual has been prepared to help fertilizer dealers, extension workers, consultants, teachers and others concerned with the profitable and environmentally safe use of plant nutrients to give sound agronomic advice to farmers and graziers.

Not all agricultural advisers are trained agronomists. This manual will not turn an untrained person into a trained one. But it will provide a working knowledge of agronomic terms, soil-plant relationships and principles of fertilizer use, in its broadest context. It will guide you towards a fuller knowledge about soil fertility. We hope it will also raise questions that motivate you to study further.

This manual can be used as a self-study guide. Much of it is basic to crop and pasture production systems. It can be used as a supplementary university textbook, for soil fertility workshops or extended short courses about soils and fertilizers.

It can be strengthened by supplementing it with your own local data and illustrations from your own experience. Local facts and data on fertilizer responses are a major benefit in making it more relevant to local audiences.

The basic principles and concepts found in this manual, apply wherever the manual is used.

While the manual is aimed to improve our knowledge about the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers, it must be recognised that there are many factors involved in producing crops and pastures and the use of fertilizers is only one of them.

It must also be recognised that there is a certain amount of financial risk associated with the use of fertilizers, in the sense that, in our uncertain climate, fertilizer application may not be profitable and, in extreme circumstances such as drought, may increase the risk of crop failure.

The main sources of applied plant nutrients are inorganic fertilizers and this manual has a bias towards the use of these products. Nevertheless, the publishers recognise that organic fertilizers have a place in modern agriculture and have attempted to describe the factors that must be taken into account in their use.

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