with Brett Petersen
Kiwi Fertiliser & Golden Bay Dolomite
Over the coming months, Brett will share 40 facts about fertiliser that will help optimise your soil. Here is the second instalment.
Kiwi Fertiliser can show you how increase profitability while growing your soils. Human and humus are the same root word, “of and from the soil.”
1 Fertiliser and lime are more effective with carbon added. Most carbon is food for the microbes. Carbon sources are well-made compost, microbial inoculated aged bark, humates, aged sawdust and biochar.
2 Soil fungi are responsible for retaining 100 per cent of available calcium in the soil. It is a fallacy that one tonne of lime or another product is required to move soil pH by one point. The soil microbes can move the pH of your soil without the physical input of calcium.
3 If Lucerne, oats, and other crops have hollow stems, calcium is lacking, and yield will not meet potential. Lucerne will flower when too short if not fertilised correctly. Adequate calcium also translates into better stock growth rates and weight gain from the feed they eat.
4 Not all N, P, K, Mg, S etc. is equal. Natural forms are far superior to chemical forms, and some chemicals are worse than others. The bioavailable forms of nutrients are the healthiest options. Kiwi Fertiliser can reduce nitrogen inputs and grow more pasture or crop by using the Terragen ground-spray programme. With is product, a bacterial spray enhances microbial life including several fungal species.
5 Fertilisers feed the microbes first, the microbes then solubilise nutrients to feed the plants. Microbes include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, algae, ciliates, arthropods, and earthworms.
6 Bacteria have a carbon nitrogen ratio of 5:1 which means for every six bacteria eaten by protozoa (30:1), five parts of nitrogen are released. Nematodes are 100:1, so for every 20 bacteria they eat, 19 parts of nitrogen are released into the soil. Up to 2000 kg/ha of nitrogen can be made available if all systems are functioning correctly. It is so important that the soil life be in balance to capture this free benefit.
7 The number of earthworms is an excellent visual sign of a healthy soil, and they can produce 30-300 tonnes/ha of casts per year. Worm casts from 20 worms per spade square contain five x N, seven x P, three x Mg, 11 x K and 1.5 x Ca, far more than ordinary soil (62 earthworms per square metre). Sulphur, iron, zinc, and other trace elements also increase. Pasture fibre increases by over 100 per cent.
8 Sixty per cent of the sugars manufactured in leaves are transferred to the roots at night. The nutrient responsible for this is boron. Because sugar content in leaves is highest then, endeavour to cut hay or silage in late afternoon or evening. Fifty per cent of that root sugar is exuded into the soil to feed the microbes. Microbes in turn make minerals available to the plant.
9 Brix levels are a measurement of soluble solids (superior nutrition). Urea-fed pastures have low Brix readings. The minimum reading for pastures able to resist pests and diseases is 12, while an excellent pasture will measure 24. A bee will not work flowers/nectar with a Brix level below seven; otherwise, it will expend more energy in collection than it will get back. Using a refractometer will aid in monitoring Brix levels.
10 There are 74,000 tonnes of nitrogen in the atmosphere above every ha. This can be sequestered in the soil by having Ca at 65-70 per cent and Mg at 10-12 per cent of base saturation, plus available phosphorus, iron, cobalt, and molybdenum. If one or more of these five requirements is out of balance, you may have to purchase nitrogen.