Australian grain production depends on applied fertiliser, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and to a lesser extent potassium (K) and sulfur (S). Despite this dependence, soil testing is used sparingly as a tool to underpin fertiliser decisions. Some grain producers typically conduct soil tests at least once every 3 years on a selection of individual fields, but it is broadly understood that many grain producers use soil testing rarely or not at all. The choice by many grain producers not to support fertiliser decisions by soil testing relates to several factors. One key factor has been a perception that soil test interpretation criteria, previously published separately before collation by K. I. Peverill, L. A. Sparrow, and D. J. Reuter, may be biased or unreliable. The current paper provides an overview of research findings, presented in this special edition of Crop & Pasture Science, describing a national approach to the collation of all available and statistically valid N, P, K, and S response trials for cereal, oilseed, and pulse crops in Australia. It provides an overview of the process adopted to make this single national dataset available to both the grains and fertiliser industries. The process to build adoption has formed an integral component of the approach, as calibration data derived from the national database are being used to underpin soil test interpretation as part of fertiliser recommendations made through Fertcare to grain producers in Australia.
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Vol. 64 • No. 5