Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


Soil fertility, Bauxite residues, Soil amendments

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The sandy soils of the Peel-Harvey catchment hold water and nutrients very poorly. The Gavin ridges dry out quickly during rainless periods and this severely limits pasture growth. These ridges and the lower lying Joel and Coolup sands also lose a large proportion of the phosphorus, sulfer and potash fertilisers applied to them. Normally the sands lack clay materials to bind and hold the nutrients so rainfall leaches them out.

The Peel-Harvey Study Group, CSIRO, Alcoa and Murdock University have studied the use of a residue from bauxite mining to help overcome these problems. The treated residue has a texture similar to loam and helps to hold more water and nutrients.

When the residue is incorporated into these sandy soils, little phosphorus is leached out and productive pastures can be grown on otherwise poor country.