Soil management programmes

The objective of getting the highest production of quality products can only come from healthy soils. Healthy soils are an ongoing process because, as soils get deeper, the productive area of your farm is effectively increasing. For instance, most soils productive area bottoms out at around 150mm of depth but if you increase the depth of your productive soil to 300mm your production potential increases dramatically. 

Soils not only get deeper, but, as the biological function increases, the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), or the size of your “fuel tank”, also increases. This means that as the CEC increases the amount of nutrients available to the crop you are growing increases as well. By increasing the CEC, and with the deepening the soil, the amount of “total” nutrient can increase by well over 100%.

Ecofarm Aotearoa believes that an effective soil management program needs a starting point, farm specific data and an objective.

  1. Base line soil testing: This is important because it provides a starting point that allows for the measurement of progress created by introduced environment management strategies. The most relevant baseline data includes the mineral composition of the soil, the effectiveness of the plant nutrient cycle and the soil organic carbon content.

  2. Measurement of the TOTAL amount of nutrients held in your soil. This is an aggressive extraction that extracts the nutrients held in your soil sample, much like a mining assay. Most farmers are unaware of the financial value of the nutrients held in their soils that are not reported in basic soil tests.

  3. Measurement of the AVAILABLE nutrient. This is carried out using an extractant that replicates the natural conditions in the soil that facilitate the mobilisation of nutrients to plant availability.

The information obtained by measuring the percentage of the total amount of nutrients against the nutrients that are extracted by the available nutrients test, allows you to accurately assess if mineral applications are required. It can be used to put in place cost-effective solutions to enable effective utilisation of your existing nutrient reserves.

The objective is to get the highest production of quality products, which only comes from healthy soils. This is an ongoing process because as soils get deeper, you are effectively increasing the productive area of your farm. For instance, most soils bottom out at around 150mm of depth yet if you increase the depth of your soil to 300mm, your productive potential increases dramatically.

These three steps lead to cost-effective soil fertility programs for your farm that:

  • Address compliance Issues
  • Saves money
  • Increases production
  • Increases net profit
  • Increases drought tolerance by enhancing moisture holding capacity
  • Minimises nutrient losses to the environment

The reality is, that a comprehensive soil program based on empirical data, reported from testing samples that are farm specific, gives the information required to cross reference with environmental programs, nutrient budgets, carbon emissions, carbon accumulation and soil fertility requirements. You have the confidence that the data you’re utilising pertains to your property and any decisions made are based on extensive knowledge of what’s actually going on in your soil and its productive capacity.

 

 

 

 

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