Soil fertility is a very important subject and one that is being discussed widely in many circles. I believe it is important that the farming community look at the issues which are facing us.
There is a growing awareness from the buyers of our produce that they want to know how their food is grown and what has been used to produce it. We may disagree with their stance, but it is the buyer’s right to know these facts. The first question that has to be asked is how much fertiliser or chemical is needed to grow a particular crop or pasture?
Once we know the total of what a plant consumes then we must work on how to deliver the required nutrients in the least wasteful way. I have been concerned for some time that the amount of fertiliser applied is greater than what the plant requires. This surely means that a percentage of the fertiliser applied is wasted, and if it is wasted then there is a chance it could end up as pollution. This means we have two problems. One is that the farmer is paying for something that will not be utilised by the plant and, therefore, be wasted and second, we as a country may well have a problem with pollution. There is an even bigger issue here, our consumers may not like what they see and decide to buy their produce from another source.
It is all very well discussing the problem; there are plenty out there doing that. My task, and that of the Company I founded, is to have a strategy in place to start you on the road to solving the issue. It is one that we have used for about 20 years. Here it is in a concise version.
IS ABOUT THE CAPACITY OF A SOIL TO PROVIDE NUTRIENTS TO GROWING PLANTS……. OF THE RIGHT KIND IN THE RIGHT PROPORTIONS AT THE RIGHT RATE FROM
SOIL MINERAL AND ORGANIC MATTER, ATMOSPHERIC SOURCES
FROM THE ACTION OF
CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES
In my opinion this is the basis of a sustainable fertiliser plan. It is not all about how much you can afford to put on. It is all about what is put on and how it gets into the plant. This can be either through the roots or through the leaves and this will depend on many factors. The factors which must be in every grower’s mind are: How much does the plant require and what can it take up? Which product will be best for the plant? How will it be applied?
Staying with the status quo may have been acceptable in the past but today’s discerning buyers are looking for new innovative ways of producing their food and want to know that it is being grown in a sustainable way. They like and can afford to get the story about how their food is grown.
At Fertilizer New Zealand we pride ourselves in the fact that we are continually striving for better and more efficient ways to grow more food using more sustainable methods.
From John Barnes and the Team at Fertilizer New Zealand