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Beef Cattle Compost on Irrigated Pasture

Beef Cattle Compost on Irrigated Pasture

Scott River, Western AUstralia

  • Author: SWCC
  • Date Posted: Aug 23, 2014
  • Category:
  • Address: Scott River, Western AUstralia

Project Details

Project Delivery: Intuit Earth

Contact: Peter Clifton (SWCC – Bunbury). Ph: 9724 2469. Email:

Website: SWCC Sustainable Agriculture

Start Date:  June 2014                     End Date: June 2016

Site ID:  SF09

Size Area Ha: 50


Project Aim

This project aims to demonstrate improved soil structure and microbial biomass through the application of custom made compost and biological sprays, resulting in improved access, cycling and availability of nutrients to irrigated pasture plants in the Scott River area.

‘The cattle weren’t putting on weight and it was causing us a lot of stress. At the same time the Hardy Inlet Water Quality Plan was trying to reduce nutrient leaching. So we started trying alternative fertilisers and the cattle have done better. Then we went to see Joel Salatin and decided to trial compost. 

‘We need to monitor so we know if we can maintain productivity. – John and Barbara Dunnet, host farmers.


The project will compare two treatments and current practice: (1) a custom amended compost at 1t/ha with biological sprays; (2) an un-amended compost at 1t/ha plus current nutrient management; and (3) the application of liquid nutrients on the advice of a fertiliser supplier (current practice).

There will be one replicate of each treatment, each ~8ha in area within a single 50ha beef pasture paddock with a 40ha pivot (with buffers between treatments). Applications of treatments and current practice will be based on deficiencies identified through soil testing. Soil type is a loamy sand to grey duplex soil to one metre with a mix of summer and winter dominate annual pastures.



Farmer observation suggests that the control and the amended compost out-performed the un-amended compost. This supports the understanding that the quality of different composts varies, and compost can be amended to enable better pasture performance. There was no gross margin analysis done in this project. The quality of monitoring did not allow for a reliable comparison between the amended compost and the control.

For more information, read here.

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