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Soil testing supports variable rate farming for AG Schilling & Co

July 16, 2018

AG Schilling & Co coordinate their own soil and plant testing directly through APAL, without needing the help of an agronomist. Farm manager Neil Wittwer says APAL’s process is very easy for growers to use.

“APAL make it simple to send them samples and they can provide the results in whatever format we want,” he says.

“I get raw data for soil tests because I’m comfortable with my soil nutrition knowledge, but when it comes to plant tissue testing, APAL send me a full interpretation, because I’m not as familiar with those results.”

Neil says the business has moved to full variable rate fertiliser application in the past few years, and as part of that they soil test one third of the farm each year, in all paddocks going into wheat.

“Regular soil testing is an essential part of variable rate farming,” he says.

Neil uses soil test results with yield predictions to plan nutrient rates and focus his fertiliser budget on the areas with the best payback.

“In the past two years since we’ve been using this strategy we’re farming better,” he says.

“We’ve improved our nutrient use efficiency and the cost of soil testing has absolutely paid itself back.”

AG Schilling & Co’s soil testing budget is about $5-$7/ha, compared to $150/ha fertiliser budget.

“It doesn’t take too much of a saving in fertiliser to justify the cost of the soil test,” Neil says.
Neil Wittwer

Farm manager at AG Schilling & Co


Paskeville, South Australia

Farm size: 2200ha
Soil types: Gray calcareous loam
Rainfall: 400mm

Neil says he chose APAL because of his respect for owner Ryan Walker, and has found his trust in the business has been justified.

“One key aspect for me is their independence,” he says.

“Most of the other labs are associated with fertiliser companies, so APAL’s independence sets them apart in my mind.

“They may cost more, but the independence justifies the extra cost, especially when you consider how minor the extra costs are compared to the cost of fertiliser.”

Neil says APAL have met or exceeded his expectations across the board.

“Turnaround time is always as promised, the pricing is cost effective, and the customer service is excellent,” he says.