with Brett Petersen
Kiwi Fertiliser & Golden Bay Dolomite
Thirty years ago, a colleague said to me: “It doesn’t matter if you believe in manmade climate change or not; there is always a better way to do things resulting in improved results”.
For me that was a turning point. There is absolutely a better way. What has changed during 30 years? Very little. The Government, local councils, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, fertiliser co-ops and others have not grasped the nettle. Or if they have, it’s been the non-stinging type.
The banks were very anti-alternative/sustainable/regenerative thinking, and farmers had to tell lies in their budgets to add magnesium and to omit phosphorus or nitrogen when that was appropriate. How stupid can it get to apply what the bank dictates rather that what your property needs? That is a classic case of the system feeding off itself. Now those banks recognise the farmers on a more natural pathway are financially better off. They are building Organic Matter, not destroying it. When N is applied without carbon, the microbes rapidly increase their numbers. Since they consist of a 5:1 C:N ratio, they balance their carbon by taking it out of the soil. Our OM is decreasing and ends up in the atmosphere as CO2. In addition, lower OM does not infiltrate water at a higher rate but causes faster runoff and water loss.
Some of the measures being proposed now are beyond the tipping point. For example, fencing sheep out of streams. Would it not be better to measure nitrates and phosphates at the origins of waterways, then at each boundary they cross, to ascertain whether the N or P is improving or not? Those that increase pollution pay the price. Those that decrease pollution get rewarded. Of course, we need strict standards to work to. One bonus can be reward in the supply chain, versus commodity status.
Unfortunately, Federated Farmers is not helping farmers cope with change. We at Kiwi Fertiliser do just that. Many farmers believe they cannot farm without nitrogen, because the people they buy it from, and their consultants keep telling them they need it. It couldn’t be further from the truth. If you want to, you can grow better quality forage and more of it; eliminate diseases, pests and parasites; drastically lower veterinary expenses, cut leaching/emissions and produce superior meat or produce without buying nitrogen. The solution and results are not solely due to fertiliser or other off-farm inputs. Management is huge. Biodiversity is paramount.
Abundance of species
Ryegrass and white clover won’t cut it. That’s what is leftover after almost everything has been preferentially eaten out. That makes those plants convenient, not necessarily the best. The best option is an abundance of species. The plant species need to include grasses, cereals, chenopods, brassicas and legumes. As far as biology is concerned, 1 + 1 = >2. It may be 5, 6 or 7. Having properly balanced minerals in the soil invokes the law of synergy and leaves antagonism for dead. All things need to be in balance to work in harmony. Let Kiwi Fertiliser show you how.