Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Conference Title

The 7th International RiverSymposium, Brisbane Australia, Aug 31st – 3rd Sept 2004


Bauxite residue, Peel-Harvey, phosphorus, red mud, soil amendment, eutrophication


Natural Resources Management and Policy | Soil Science | Water Resource Management


The Department of Agriculture, Western Australia has been working with Alcoa World Alumina Australia Ltd for more than ten years investigating the potential to use bauxite refining residues as soil amendments for the poor, acidic, sandy soils of the Swan Coastal Plain in south west Australia. Regional waterways, especially the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary, have historically been susceptible to nuisance algal blooms fed by phosphorus in run-off from farmland and urban areas. Extensive laboratory, field and catchment-scale trials have shown the ability of soil amendment with fine bauxite refining residue (now trademarked in this context as Alkaloam™) to reduce the leaching of nutrients to sensitive regional waterways by up to 75%, whilst increasing pasture productivity by up to 25% (up to 200% in well-controlled experimental situations). This is now widely acknowledged as the only land management option developed globally which has been shown to reduce non-point-source phosphorus export immediately upon application. Alkaloam™ is now available on a commercial basis to landholders in the Peel-Harvey Catchment and is seen as an exciting solution to a significant land degradation problem. This paper examines the effectiveness of Alkaloam™ in retaining phosphorus, increasing plant production and assisting in minimising waste production from refineries – win-win-win.