Fertiliser decisions made by grain growers should all start with, and rely on, knowledge of the fertility status of paddocks. These decisions need to account for the nutrient requirements of plants for growth, nutrient availability in soils, and nutrient losses that can occur during crop growth (e.g. de-nitrification or erosion).

The Making Better Fertiliser Decisions for Cropping Systems in Australia (BFDC) provides the fertiliser industry, agency staff and agribusiness advisors with knowledge and resources to improve nutrient recommendations for optimising crop production. BFDC is recognised by the Fertiliser Industry Federation of Australia as the best available data for supporting the decision tools that fertiliser industry members use to formulate recommendations.

BFDC is supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and is led by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The collaborative team drawn together to establish BFDC included:

  • Fertiliser Industry Federation of Australia
  • International Plant Nutrition Institute
  • South Australian Research and Development Institute
  • Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
  • Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia
  • Department of Primary Industries Victoria
  • Tasmanian Institute for Agricultural Research
  • Incitec Pivot Fertilisers
  • CSBP
  • Summit Fertilisers
  • Impact Fertilisers
  • Superfert
  • Geographic Web Solutions
  • K I P Consultancy Services
  • Reuter and Associates
  • Back Paddock Company
  • Murdoch University
  • University of Adelaide
  • Landmark
  • Elders
  • Dodgshun Medlin

The collaborative team also included substantial contributions from many current and retired scientists and industry persons from across Australia.


In establishing BFDC, the three objectives were to:

  • Develop a national database of available soil test-crop response calibration (fertiliser) trials undertaken to assess the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and sulfur (S) status of soils used for the production of cereal, pulse and oilseed crops.
  • Develop the BFDC Interrogator so that all data held in the database can be used to obtain soil test-crop response relationships for the interpretation of N, P, K and S soil test results using an agreed and statistically valid method.
  • Develop training resources and publications to make the BFDC soil test-crop response calibration data available to the grains and fertiliser industries.

Fertiliser recommendations

Making better decisions about soil nutrient management and crop nutrition starts with gaining an understanding of how soil fertility fits into the whole crop production process. The BDFC Interrogator provides information about critical soil test levels for the four nutrients that frequently account for 20-30% of variable crop production costs - N, P, K and S.

To make a fertiliser recommendation in the context of the overall soil system, growers and their advisors must assess the status of these four nutrients in light of the soil's inherent production capacity as determined by any other physical, biological and chemical limitations.

Please contact your Fertcare accredited soil testing laboratory or Fertcare Accredited Advisor for more information on fertiliser recommendations.


Fertcare is the Fertiliser Industry's training, quality assurance, certification and accreditation program:

  • Fertcare accredited organisations are licensed to use the Fertcare Logos, incorporating the Fertcare trade mark, according to a licence agreement. The granting of a licence is based on meeting targets for staff training, quality assurance and Accu-Spread certification of spreading machinery.
  • Fertcare Accredited Advisers are assessed to determine their competence for making nutrient recommendations. The assessment is based on standards set by the Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council (ASPAC).

The soil test-crop response trial calibration relationships are recognised by Fertcare as the 'best available data' and will be used to underpin soil test interpretation in Australia. In some cases, alternative data may be used to refine these soil test interpretations, but Fertcare requires that these soil test-crop response calibrations are at least as good as those obtained from the BFDC database.