AGRICULTURE WA research into the use of fertiliser to protect lime stockpiles from wind erosion is producing impressive results. Trials undertaken at Jurien Bay and Wongan Hills by Agwest development offers Sally-Anne Penny and Dave Gartner have had significant success in the use of fertiliser as a stabilising option. Mr Gartner said the most successful fertiliser mixture to stabilise lime heaps has been a mixture of five parts water to one part ammonium-based fertiliser. "This mixture was sprayed on the heap quite thickly and used about 300 litres of water and 50-60 kilograms of fertiliser to cover a 40-tonne lime heap," he said. "The cost of the fertiliser in this mixture was about $20, which is minimal considering the cost of the lime plus cartage and what could be blown away through erosion." The trials have used a number of fertilisers such as urea, superphosphate and ammonium bases with different fertiliser to water ratios. Mr Gartner said the success of initial trials using diluted fertiliser led to the bigger trial at Jurien Bay and a smaller one at Wongan Hills. "We have found that the dissolution of the fertilisers in the water varies greatly according to product, water temperature, and degree of agitation," he said. "There have also been differences in performance within the types of ammonium-based fertilisers, with the Agras heap lasting the longest at six to eight weeks after application, closely followed by the ammonium sulphate." The trials have involved the heaps being fenced off to prevent unwanted disturbances breaking the fertiliser crust. Traditionally, stockpiling methods have included the use of tarps, bunkers made out of hay bales, sump oil-diesel, and synthetic spray stabilisers, such as Crustex, Gloun, Dustex and Zerosion. Mr Gartner said the results of the trials looked promising and would provide farmers with an option of arranging earlier lime deliveries, rather than waiting until immediately before spreading. "Monitoring will continue at the trial sites during all weather conditions to ensure there is conclusive assessment of the rate of lime lost," he said. pMore information: Dave Gartner, Agwest Moora, 9651 1302 or Sally-Anne Penny, Agwest Merredin, 9081 3111.