50 years of soil testing
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers boasts a long, proud history within the fertiliser industry of Australia. Incitec Pivot’s first direct antecedent company, Australian Co-operative Fertilizers commenced in Toowoomba, Queensland in 1915. Australian Fertilizers Ltd formed in 1920 in NSW and took over the SSP operations of the Elliot brothers (1862). Meanwhile, its Victorian counterpart Pivot Limited was formed in 1918 creating The Phosphate Co-operative Company of Australia Limited in 1919.
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers also boasts having Australia’s oldest soil testing service and in 2013 we are celebrating 50 years of providing continuous nutritional analytical services for farmers.
Our soil testing origins commenced in 1963, with Australian Fertilizers Limited (AFL, 1920-1980) establishing a soil testing service for wheat growers in Temora, NSW and built a laboratory for £14,000 at Chester Hill (Sydney) in 1964.
AFL - "Soil testing is now an exact science"
In Victoria the Phosphate Co-operative Company of Australia Limited (1919-1995) established a soil testing service in Geelong, Victoria in 1967.
“Soil test results include an indication of soil acidity, salt content, organic matter present, level of available potash; it also includes information on the likely requirements for phosphorous, copper and zinc.
In conjunction with the soil testing service, the Company employs a number of qualified agronomists; their wide district knowledge is used together with individual farm information and laboratory results in preparation of soil testing reports.
Reports are forwarded to Members 3 to 4 weeks after receipt of soil samples at the laboratory.
Soil samples analysis charge of $4.00 being made for this service. If samples are taken by a Company representative a complete charge of $8.00 is made for the first sample and $6.00 for each subsequent sample taken during the course of a single farm visit.” (Taken from a Phosphate Co-operative Company brochure, 1967)
Other antecedent companies which merged to eventually form Incitec Pivot Fertilisers include ACF & Shirleys (1928-1979) who established a testing service in Pinkenba, Brisbane in 1968. Austral Pacific Fertilizers (1968-1970) established their service at Gibson Island, Brisbane in 1969.
As companies merged so did soil testing laboratories. Australian Fertilisers Ltd later shifted the laboratory from Sydney to their SSP plant in Pt Kembla. Austral Pacific Fertilizers, ACF and Shirley’s and Eastern Nitrogen Ltd amalgamated to form Consolidated Fertilizers Limited (CFL, 1970-1983) in 1970. The Pinkenba & Gibson Island laboratories were merged into one at Gibson Island in 1971.
In 1985 AFL Holdings (previously known as Australian Fertilizers Limited) and CFL (who changed its name to Incitec in 1983) merged to form Incitec Limited. In 1991 the Pt Kembla laboratory was closed and operations integrated into Gibson Island, Brisbane laboratory.
In the interim years between 1967 and 1994 the Phosphate Co-operative’s soil and plant testing was undertaken in the Geelong, Yarraville, and East Melbourne Laboratories. The history of the Yarraville laboratory and site go far back to the beginnings of fertiliser production in Victoria with Cuming Smith. The Phosphate Co-operative purchased it from ICIANZ in 1971.
In March 1994, The Phosphate Co-operative opened the Pivot Agricultural Laboratory Service Pty Ltd trading as AG-PLUS in South Melbourne. Otherwise known as “Pivotest”, the Phosphate Co-operative also launched Pivot Prescription Farming and Agrisource Decision Support System. In 1995 Phosphate Co-operative changed its name to Pivot Limited.
World-class test laboratory takes shape
In 2000 a 1,400 square metre, state of the art, purpose built soil and plant testing laboratory opens in Werribee, Victoria for 4.1 million dollars.
An internal news story titled New Laboratory supporting Pivot Science said “The opening of the Pivotest laboratory at Werribee is another major step in improving the role that scientific nutrient analysis will play in Australian agriculture”.
An article from Stock & Land - New lab for tissue and soil testing by Don Story, (09 March, 2000) states “The new laboratory is a cornerstone of Pivot¹s Prescription Farming system, which is designed to provide sound agronomic advice to ensure correct nutrient management decisions. It will underpin continued expansion in adopting soil and plant tissue testing. The highly automated laboratory and quality assured systems will maintain accuracy and efficiency. Soil and plant tissue test results will be available within seven days. The laboratory has a capacity to process at least 60,000 samples a year”.
The laboratory today
In 2003 Incitec Ltd and Pivot Ltd merge to form Incitec Pivot Ltd. The Gibson Island laboratory closed and operations merged with modern Pivot Laboratory at Werribee.
In 2006 the Werribee laboratory became known as Nutrient Advantage and in 2008 the Decision Support system Nutrient Advantage Advice was created.
Nutrient Advantage is a major provider of soil, plant and water analytical services in Australia.
Our history has helped make us specialists in independent soil and plant testing. With on-going compliance to International Standard ISO/IEC 17025-2005, NATA accreditation and ASPAC Certification, consistent turnaround times, friendly customer Support as well as backed by a team of knowledgeable agronomists, why wouldn’t we boast. We now process some 70,000 – 80,000 samples each year with a turnaround time of 5 days.
Logos throughout the years