We are heading out of summer into the autumn and as farmers our minds turn to fertiliser, drying the cows off, saving pasture and a myriad of other jobs which are all pretty much in line with getting the best of this season but really focusing on next season.
Often we are side tracked by other issues of compliance, environmental plans and other such tasks which can take us off coarse; but the best analogy to what we do on the farm can be summed up really quickly “Get the best return from your investment” and “enjoy doing what we do”.
Most of the time its hard to take on new principals, even if they could make the biggest difference to our returns and making life a little easier.
Your soil is easily the biggest investment in your farm, Its where it all starts, where all the production comes from, it can keep the water clean, accumulate carbon and solve a shit load of other issues such as compliance and animal health.
The problem is some of our practices have led to some major issues that are not being addressed which are costing us dearly �� and one the biggest I see every week is “Aluminium” toxicity in the soil.
The earths crust is approximately 7% aluminium which is no big deal when its in the right form as hydroxides or silicates but when it’s as free aluminium ions there is trouble to be had.
Most nutrients in the soil are made available through biology as they digest plant waste, animal excrement and parent soil material. These range from single cell bacteria through to fungi with long names such as mycorrhizal fungi.
How well they function (the bacteria and fungi), is down to the environment. When we take into account most farms have approx $50,000 worth of nutrients in the top 150mm, and our production is created and regulated by the amount of nutrient we can make available each growing season from that store, the biology becomes very important.
Adding to this, the amount of water we may be able to retain from better carbon levels along with improved soil structure, we then realise that the biology is by far one of the greatest issues to get right and aluminium is not their friend.
If you buy deodorant which kills bacteria you’ll find most are aluminium based which sort of gives you an idea of how effective this stuff is at killing biology.
I suppose the question is, why has this become an issue?
Its actually been accumulating for a while now. Whenever we’ve put acidic fertiliser into the soil, it dissolves the aluminium hydroxide into free aluminium ions which then compounds year on year. Based on observations, most don’t get much response/return from the fertiliser applied and in a lot of cases production appears to be getting worse. Despite the tendency to add more…… on
Doing more of the same is not going to make any difference. A new approach is required.
I’ve detailed a lot of these issues in my book “An Ecofarmer’s Discovery” along with many of the remedies including a specific chapter just on aluminium.
At times when we are so busy its hard to see the wood for the trees but sometimes we need to back off and take a fresh look at the issues we face everyday.
The reality is that the answers are out there and they are not that expensive but for a bit of your time!
If you want to really make changes, save money increase production and profit read my book and you can save a lot of heart ache and time.
All my best
PS If you have any questions please reply to this email or reach out to us on Messenger here on this link. m.me/ecofarmaotearoa