Home' Smart Farmer : July 2012 Contents July 2012
Soil Management Systems Pty Ltd
PO Box 1784, Orroroo, SA 5431
ABN: 85 103 271 432
Phone: (08) 8659 0000 | Fax: (08) 8659 0021
Brenton: 0428 810 088
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Web: www.soilms.com.au
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• Increases root growth & availability of nutrients and moisture
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• Compatible with post-emergent herbicides
• Cost effective at around $6.50/Ha Treatment
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Phosphorous problem is
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ROM humble farmer verging
on bankruptcy to Australia-
Brenton Byerlee has always beaten
He was motivated to set up Soil
Management Systems in the course
of his work with the Goyder Soil
Conservation Board in 1995 after he
realised farmers were not getting the
necessary information to make the
right decisions about soil and plant
The farmer who calls Orroroo
home says a key driver to start the
business was fertiliser use efficiency.
"I thought we were going back-
wards as far as that was concerned,"
"I became aware that Australia was
producing ammonium sulphate
whereas most farmers were using
This is why ammonium sulphate
became Soil Management Systems'
"Urea is not always friendly to
soils whereas ammonium sulphate
is," Brenton said.
"It was important to put sulphur
on the market. Farmers had gone 15
years without sulphur inputs on
"Ammonium sulphate was an
excellent way of doing that."
Brenton found that large stocks of
ammonium sulphate were readily
available from the OneSteel plant at
Whyalla and decided to buy some
from there despite naysayers warn-
ing he would not be able to sell it
because it was unwanted.
But after using it on his own farm
and selling some to other farmers,
interest in ammonium sulphate
started to grow.
"I had a wide range of contacts at
the soil conservation board who did
a lot of educational work on ammo-
nium sulphate and its different char-
acteristics," Brenton said.
"People didn't understand ammo-
nium sulphate; urea was so much
easier for farmers to use.
"Urea has its place but it also has
Brenton said ammonium sulphate
quickly" and he began to buy more
from other sites including the
Bluescope Steel site at Port Kembla,
New South Wales.
This allowed the business to
expand into the NSW and Victorian
market and as demand continued to
grow, it imported more of the prod-
uct from Western Mining in
Kwinana, Western Australia, thereby
casting its contact base further.
"We have taken it as far as
Gladstone in Queensland," Brenton
"It's a very popular product in SA
As operations continued to
expand, Soil Management Systems
decided to market new products to
Australian farmers and this led them
to look abroad for more options.
That was when they got the idea of
buying guano -- the manure of cave-
dwelling bats, seabirds and seals --
from South East Asia because of its
high phosphorus and trace element
Soil Management Systems now
has warehouses in every Australian
The business has also developed a
line of high-quality liquid fertilisers
that can be used in conjunction with
a leaf tissue test to customise the
right formulation for different grow-
Soil gets benefits of best
Name: Soil Management Systems
First-hand understanding of farm
Real interest in soil nutrition
Provide services for farmers' needs.
Right soil information enables
Honesty and integrity paramount
to any successful business.
Feet firmly on the ground
IT would be easy to think that Brenton
(pictured) lost touch with his home-
town Orroroo after the rapid growth
of Soil Management Systems.
But nothing is further from the truth
-- he is still helping his son Jonathan
run a Merino woolgrowing and lamb
operation. Jonathon also crops 650
hectares of wheat.
Brenton was a successful farmer dur-
ing the 1990s before financial worries
forced him to downscale operations. It
was at this time that Soil Management
Systems started to take off and one
interest gradually took over the other
-- something Brenton considers a time-
ly saviour, given the drought that was
to cripple farmers for the next decade.
"I would be doing something else
otherwise," he said.
Brenton still operates Soil
Management Systems from Orroroo
despite the company having corporate
offices in Melbourne.
He takes prides in keeping all his
work at the grassroots level and cred-
its Orroroo staff for enabling him to
"I'm a member of the Upper North
farming group and still attend the
local GRDC updates," Brenton said.
His work takes him across Australia
and he feels privileged to have the
opportunity to experience the country.
Apart from supplying farmers with
ammonium sulphate and guano, the
business prides itself on providing
services for comprehensive soil and
leaf tissue analysis to farmers across
"Farmers can quickly adapt to new
technology, particularly machinery,
but there is a lack of good informa-
tion when it comes to soils. So that's
what we do."
Ammonium sulphate supplies are
nearing exhaustion in Australia and
Brenton now aims to import more
products from overseas.
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