Spring-Summer Newsletter 2010

Newsletter Date Spring-Summer Newsletter 2010 Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak Droug...
Author: Tyrone Norris
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Spring-Summer Newsletter 2010 Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak

Drought and what you can do about it Did MetService get it wrong with their December forecast? Has Ken Ring done any better with his moonbased predictions? Maybe sunspots are the answer, but all seems quiet on that front too. December was forecast to be wetter than normal with a wetter summer under the current La Nina weather pattern. But after raining incessantly through spring, making fertiliser spreading impossible, the tap was turned off and within weeks drought conditions loomed. Soil water has now all gone. Hardly any time to spread fertiliser before the soil got too dry and those who did were fortunate. Flax, cabbage trees, pohutukawa and

many others flowered crazily, suggesting a long hot summer ahead. It seems like every time a good payout arrives, drought conditions neutralise the eco•The fastest most cost effective humus builder on the market

they didn't even need it all. Our advice: forget Australia and get your humus building programme in place. Two months of stored rainfall in your soil would have helped a lot in the coming months.

HUMUS BUILDER The quickest way to boost pasture & crop production

Humus draws water from the atmosphere during drought and holds four times its weight in water during wet periods, conserving rainfall and significantly delaying the onset of drought. Grant produced phenomenal pasture growth during last season‟s drought with Humus Builder sprays on top of a solid fertiliser base. After four sprays of Humus Builder the ground (continued on page 2)

•Increases soil water holding capacity •Enhances soil nutrient holding capacity •Reduces nutrient leaching •Improves the quality & structure of all soil types

APPLICATION: •Dilute 1:10 with non chlorinated water (100ml per litre water) •For best results apply 100-200L/ha diluted mix every month. When dealing with this product it is recommended to wear gloves, overalls and face protection & to avoid breathing any fumes. In enclosed spaces wear a respirator. In the event of any spillage on skin, wash immediately with clean water.

nomic benefits. What a difference soil humus could make in storing all that earlier rainfall. And those damned Auzzies. They took our pavlova and now they‟ve taken our rain, and

Who’s new at Environmental Fertilisers? EF has had a staff upgrade, resulting in an efficient and dedicated team to service your fertiliser requirements and provide expert advice! New faces: Donna Lynch, experienced office manager from Morrinsville, previously employed by EF. Sue Sheary, receptionist from Ngatea with heaps of

experience ordering and coordinating product ingredients, freight companies and invoices. Ray Griffiths, accountant from Hamilton with decades of corporate experience in previous positions. Lance Christianson, factory floor with loads of experience preparing fertiliser mixes, loading out, liaising

with spreading and trucking firms and farmer clients. Marie our capable cleaner replaces Ngaire who retired with health problems. Old hands include CEO, sales and product development manager Grant Paton, marketing manager Bibiana Spence, Greg Tate in sales and lab technician Joy Keith. 1

Inside this issue: Drought. The solution


Why cant we feed our cows—our view


BioAg Seminars & Human Health


Brix monitoring Our view


Calculating yields From Reams tests


Environmental Fertilisers Ltd Beyond Organics ® Kerepehi Industrial Park Kerepehi Town Road PO Box 204 Paeroa 3640 Phone: 07 867 6737 Fax: 07 867 6068 E-mail: [email protected]

Well here we are at the end of another calendar year and into another drought. Despite all the bad weather global warming er... climate change, has thrown at us we all at Environmental Fertilisers wish you a happy festive season and prosperous New Year. We will be closing down for Xmas on 24th December and will resume on 10th January with partial staff. Full staff will return on 17th January.

We are on the web www.environmental-fertilisers.co.nz

Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Drought continued was wet at nights due to water being drawn in from the atmosphere by the induced magnetic field. Water will also be drawn from lower down the soil profile providing there is no impervious pan to prevent it rising. However for maximum results from foliar nutrient sprays, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and nitrogen availability must be sufficient, and soil energy for growth high enough to sustain the new growth. One can‟t pull a rabbit out of the hat without the bases in place, and farmers attracted by the results of Humus Builder on Grant‟s patch will have experienced results commensurate with their soil calcium etc availability. Another issue is getting up to speed with effective pasture spraying equipment, and the number of

sprays farmers with very limited spare time can practically apply in a season. Environmental Fertilisers is constantly developing better formulations to minimise preparation time and spraying problems, but the right equipment needs to be in place to do the job properly for best results. Advantages of foliar nutrient spraying:

It‟s 8-20 times more efficient than root feeding, and 80% of the product reaches the target compared with only 10-30% applied as solid fertiliser to soil

It‟s very cost effective, and huge leverage is possible with small inputs

Nutrient deficiencies can be corrected rapidly 2

It can generate increased cash flow (e.g. anionic pasture spraying)

It can relieve pasture stress from drought, frost, water logging, pugging etc

It can bypass soil problems like nutrient lock-up, antagonism and leaching.

next, and finally topping up to the required volume with more clean water. Large capacity tank so more hectares  It greatly complements solid The tractor pump should be running can be sprayed per tank fill. fertiliser application. while products are being added to the Finer nozzles on a boom to provide a spray mix. But: a really good result depends on mist of small spray soil calcium availability of 2000 kg/ha Don‟t leave the tractor idle droplets (which are or more. With farm levels commonly at this stage. Start spraying absorbed by foliage less than 1000 kg, the result can be immediately to avoid any more efficiently average at best. Also, soil must be baltendency of the spray mix to than coarse dropanced to supply the 20 % of pasture settle. lets), rather than a energy needs that come from the soil rose or flood-jet Slow drying of applied (80% comes from the atmosphere). nozzle commonly spray to maximise uptake Money spent on the right gear will save used for pasture spraying. However of nutrients applied. Spraying in the you time and maximise results. Howthere is a limit to nozzle fineness when evening is the best option for farmers ever many pesticide spray rigs will not applying organic ingredients like liquid milking cows. be ideal for nutrient spraying. fish and liquid calcium which can block The key issues with nutrient spray- nozzles. Removing pump and/or nozzle A spray tank mixture of pH 7 and conductivity of 1.5-3 mS/cm is best for pasing are: filters can be useful in preventing blockture growth. If not in these ranges buffages but nozzle aperture must be right. Very good spray tank agitation, via a ers can be added. The spray mix can be diaphragm pump with sufficient byPremixing difficult-to-dissolve or checked quickly with hand held instrupass capacity to effectively keep solids insoluble products to ensure complete ments available commercially. suspended in the spray mix . The tank mixing in the tank. Use a 200 L barrel shape should allow for effective bypass with a milk stirrer or immersion pump; Spraying is another farm cost in equipment, product and time. Avoid frustraagitation, whereas most sprayers on the or a 20 L bucket and stirrer. tion and ensure best results by getting market are designed for chemical pestiAlways start by filling the spray tank properly set up for it. cide application with totally inadequate say two thirds full with clean water, spray mix agitation. Compare brix levels of sprayed pasture adding premixed products one by one in before spraying (previous noon) and Or: have a separate circulating the order prescribed, fully dissolving or after (following noon) to determine pump or mechanical stirring device suspending each in the swirling water benefit to stock. If brix rises after spraywhich keeps the tank contents mixed in the spray tank before adding the ing, the application has been beneficial. well, preventing suspended solids from

Drought continued

settling out while spraying.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

The big question. Why can’t we feed our cows on pasture like we used to?

lem go away or make lasting change. The only sustainable solution is to address the cause.

tainable? Are our soils in as good condition now as when they were back then and do they have the same productive

Apart from the weather extremes I contend that these are symptoms of depleted soil and the remedy lies in soil remediation. Our soils have been graduThis question was raised in a recent ally stripped of their productive base, Coast and Country article. The arti- their humus or active carbon content, cle reports that some areas are pro- which means that the conventional apducing 2-4 t/ha/year less than pre- proach to farming is unsustainable in viously. The reasons put forward by the long term and the “clean green” image we like to portray to overseas capacity now? If not why not? How will the consultant were 1) the three markets is actually a farce, being anythis affect our grandchildren? hard seasons in a row which have thing but clean, green and sustainable. Part of the problem lies in the need for had a cumulative effect, and 2) the early spring growth to feed our increaslack of rain which a) shut down the The current NPK farming paradigm started when the government of the day ing numbers of lactating cows and nitrogen cycle and b) caused death charged MAF with the task of selling maximise milk production. This reof desirable pasture species, leading subsidised NPK fertilisers to NZ farmquires significant spring N inputs, to c) a change in pasture composiers, based on trialled growth responses which, it has been shown, gradually tion, with more weeds and low qual- on pastures treated with surplus war depletes active soil carbon. Research by ity grasses. munitions stock from the USA. Fertilis- Waikato University and other institutes ers can make excellent bombs. There is around the world all link heavy N use This may well have occurred, but how no doubt that NPK fertilisers resulted to reducing levels of soil carbon over did our pastures get to this state? Are in great pasture response and a huge time, even with heavy inputs of organic the above reasons causes or sympgrowth in farm exports, but at what matter (continued next page). toms? This is important because treatcost to our soils? Was this growth susing symptoms will not make the prob3

We have been doing this for 80 years now, and “the chickens have come home to roost ”, because our soils are clearly not performing as they used to.

soil pH, creating an unfavourable environment for beneficial microbes which cease activities. Nitrogen fertilisers like urea grow low quality watery grass because nitrogen has to enter the plant Why is soil carbon so important? with lots of water. Too much urea also Humus is active soil carbon – it‟s like depletes humus, and low Ca:Mg and capital in the bank. low P:K ratios bring on compaction, anaerobic soil conditions and weed inSoil beneath grazed permanent pasture festation. Watery, low brix pasture is (potentially) a huge carbon sink calls in the insect pests like clover flea, much greater than forests. This is beporina, grass grub, black beetle, army cause of the massive root density worm and numerous diseases which achievable beneath pasture compared must then be controlled with chemicals; with forest, and the return of signifiwhich further decimate the beneficial cant amounts of animal manure on biology. Herbicides (including glygrazed farmland. Compacted soil prephosate) kill beneficial microbes and vents this potential root density from leave toxic metabolites in soil. Nitrogenever happening, as soil aeration is crititure production is tied to soil humus fixing bacteria shut down operations cal for root penetration. levels. under high N inputs, while soil cultivaSoil carbon is being traded on world tion decimates mycorrhizal fungi, which Organic matter (eg peat) is not humus, markets and can be grown like a cash are the most instrumental of all benefiwhich is the active carbon fraction decrop, selling the credits but retaining cials in sequestering carbon, retaining the benefits to increase farm production rived from organic matter by soil micro- calcium and extracting phosphorous & profitability and achieve ongoing sus- bial digestion. Pasture sugar content and water for pasture growth. My(brix) and mineral content is tied to tainability. corrhizal networks greatly extend the humus levels. High-brix pasture = high reach of plant root systems, penetrating While farmers will be taxed on soil carenergy, mineralised food for cows = high deep into the soil to extract nutrients bon emissions, humus creation seMS production/cow. and water the roots could never reach. questers carbon, reversing carbon Humus is the lifeblood and productive emissions. Therefore one needs to be a So why isn’t our pasture feeding base of all soils. You deplete it at your biological (carbon) farmer to survive economic peril. and profit from the Emissions Trading Scheme; provided the Government rec- Doctors take the Hippocratic

ognises the carbon-sequestering contribution that pastoral farmers can make. Humus provides housing and food for beneficial soil microbes and is the natural, plant-available food reservoir for pasture nutrition. Humus stores four times its weight in water, minimizes runoff, drought and cold effects and prevents leaching of soluble nutrients (nitrates, phosphates, sulphates, calcium etc) down the soil profile and into waterways. It dramatically increases the capacity of soils to withstand drought. It draws moisture from the atmosphere and can partially recharge evaporative losses in the absence of rain (from humidity and dew).

Humus increases the amount of nutrients your soil can hold for plant growth. It improves soil structure and reduces winter pugging and summer compaction. If humus is increasing you have sustained profit. If it is depleting you will eventually go broke because pas-

oath upon becoming qualified to practise medicine. “First do the patient no harm” (this doesn‟t happen). A similar oath should be taken by all farmers with respect to soil fertility management. “First do no harm to the soil”. Why? Because harming soil structure and soil life is harming soil productivity and future income and will eventually send you or your descendents broke and off the land. Just as importantly, because you are growing food for people you have a responsibility to grow nutritious produce. Depleted soil can‟t grow nutritious pasture or crops which can‟t produce nutritious milk or meat products (without mineral supplementation). Nutritionally depleted produce makes for unhealthy consumers.

our cows these days? It‟s because the soil biological system has been chemically ravaged and shut down. Soil biology isn‟t performing the recycling service it once was; fixing up to 200 kg of nitrogen per ha from the truckloads of N above every hectare of pasture and growing humus (active carbon) each year to increase topsoil depth, fertility and pasture productivity. The productive base of our soils has been gradually depleting. It bodes ill for our children If your management regime is depleting and grandchildren. The biological base humus you need to change your regime. and humus content of our soils must be Acid-based salt fertilisers like super re-established, and that is why Enviphosphate and potash (potassium chlo- ronmental Fertilisers was estabride) harm soil microbes. Concentrated lished, to restore soil fertility and chloride is biocidal, killing beneficial wean farmers off the current unbacteria and fungi. Super phosphate sustainable chemical paradigm. and other acid-based fertilisers reduce 4

BioAg Seminars & Health DVDs arthritis etc. We find that many clients who come to us for help have related During our less busy periods that coinhealth problems or have family memcide with yours, Environmental Fertilisbers suffering needlessly, when the aners will offer one day biological agriculswer to their problems are not drugs, ture seminars to provide farmers and surgery or radiation but vitamins, mingrowers with an overview of our aperals and nutritious home-grown fruits proach to soil fertility. These have been and veges. We are offering this because very popular since starting them up last the NZ health system is more interested winter. Because we are also passionate in profits than cures. It‟s time we all about the outcome of the biological aptook responsibility for our own health proach, namely consumer health, we and got educated in preventative mediwill also offer viewings of educational cine (nutrient dense food) and throw out health DVDs that cover important huthe lethal processed, junk-food. We also man diseases like cancer, heart disease,

Brix monitoring and its importance to farming and growing

perature, cloud cover, surface moisture and water content of leaves.

need to dispel the myth that the medical establishment‟s methods are in our best interests. The recent Vit C coverup is the best recent example of where the NZ Health Department‟s motives really lie. You may be interested to hear that there are thousands of peer reviewed research papers testifying to the efficacy of Vit C against heart disease, one of our worst modern scourges. Knowledge is power and we need it to stand against the harmful outcomes of prescription medicine!

assuming that the higher the sugar content at noon on a sunny day, the better the pasture quality must be because it‟s Since sugar is the end result of photogetting the full mineral complement it synthesis, the higher the sugar concenneeds to perform to the max. A recent article in Inside Dairy, offitration the better the mineral supply to cial magazine of Dairy NZ, by an animal the foliage both from the soil and air. In practice, leaf sap brix measurements scientist, claims to have “busted the Brix is a measure of soluble solids and are very sensitive, responding within 30 minutes to foliar applications of the myth that brix testing is a good minerals which include sugars and measure of pasture quality”. other dissolved solids. The higher the right minerals. It tells you whether the brix reading the better must all the re- foliar spray you have applied will inReally? The only thing he managed to quirements be in place to enable maxicrease photosynthesis at that time and highlight was his ignorance of basic mum photosynthesis. This must be the can predict whether your pasture or plant science, and the old adage: first goal of all soil-based enterprises crop will be high yielding without haryou ignore it. If it doesn‟t go away you since all food production depends on vest shrinkage, and whether calcium or then attack it vigorously. The third photosynthesis. It‟s a no brainer to see phosphate availability is an issue or stage is when it becomes main-stream. that sugar as the end result of photonot. Combined with sap pH and conducWe are clearly at the second stage. synthesis is the best product to monitor, tivity readings, one can diagnose why Plant science Fundamentals and the higher the brix, the better must sugar levels are lower than optimum. the soil-plant-atmosphere-sunlight sys- Typically pastures on soils treated with Photosynthesis produces sugar from urea have very low sap brix as heavy N carbon dioxide, water, and energy from tem be working. applications produce watery cells which the sun. The knowledgeable scientist was evidilute sugar concentrations. By conEach day‟s run of sugar synthesis, with dently unaware of the part that sugars trast, pastures on a biological proplay in feeding the soil microbial biothe aid of boron, is released from leaf gramme usually have brix levels of 12 mass, which is estimated to be equivacells and translocated to the roots, or higher. High calcium, high-brix paswhere almost half is exuded with other lent to up to five cows per ha in a ture is highly attractive and highly healthy soil. growth factors to feed the teeming beneficial to stock. No wonder brix is workforce of beneficial soil microbes. It Pasture quality depends on a full combeing attacked by convention. It‟s a real doesn’t just build up in the leaves plement of major and minor nutrients threat to the status quo. until the next grazing, but is daily and trace minerals to enable all metaLeaf sap Brix provides a rapid and senutilised in plant metabolism, feeding bolic systems to function, whether recsitive measurement of photosynthetic the microbial workforce and providing ognised by science or not. There are efficiency and feed-quality of pasture. energy and building blocks for plant around 70-80 elements in the periodic Used regularly it can provide the earligrowth. table. Science has recognised only 17 as est warning of impending problems, being necessary for plant growth. CoMaximum photosynthesis depends on well before visible deficiency symptoms balt, which forms the central atom in all the raw materials (minerals and appear when yield losses are already every molecule of Vit B12 is now known enzymes) being present in the right inevitable. It can provide one with a low to be important in atmospheric nitrogen quantities and available to the plant cost, rapid, finger-on-the-pulse monitorfixation. How many more vitamins and cells that photosynthesise (eg Ca, P, ing of efficiency and quality of grass enzymes does science not know about Mg, N, B etc). Since enzymes are built production along with other techniques. that require a trace mineral to exist? around trace minerals and hundreds So the principle scientist would be betare being utilised constantly in cell me- There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of enzymes required by every ter to stick to what he knows tabolism, any trace element deficiency living cell. The more we learn the less will likely hinder sugar manufacture. we seem to know. Brix testing compenOn any day leaf sap brix can fluctuate sates for our knowledge deficiency by according to sunlight intensity, tem5

Calculating potential yields of crops using Reams Soil Test Results

understand how much mineral is removed from the soil for a given yield. This will reinforce how important Calcium is.

There is a law in mathematics that says „The whole is equal to the sum of the Assume 40 000 kg/ha of produce has parts‟. been produced from a field. How much mineral is required ? Remember 80% of the produce is water. 40 000 kg/ha x This law applies to the TDN [Total 80% = 32 000 kg/ha of water. This Daily Nutrients, the amount of plant available food/nutrient per unit of time]. leaves 8000 kg/ha DM. Of this, 80% of the mineral came from the air- 8000 kg The parts of the reserve soil TDN are x 80% = 6400 kg/ha DM, leaving 1600 Calcium, Phosphate, Potassium, Nikg/ha coming from the soil. trate-Nitrogen, Ammonia Nitrogen, Iron and Copper. When these are summed up they should equal 98% of the soil reserve potential. If that potential equals 3300kg per ha or more, then it is possible to start predicting yield potentials for a given crop. The higher the reserve potential, the more accurate the predictions. In other words when the total kgs per hectare of available, soluble nutrients from calcium through to copper, add up to 3300kg/ha and the phosphate is in proper ratio to potassium, it is possible to calculate what the yield potential could be if the soil chemistry is managed properly. Remember CALCIUM makes up 80% of the TDN potential. Therefore the single greatest problem with our agricultural soils today is the lack of plant-available calcium.

How much of this is calcium? Remember calcium makes up 80% of this mineral fraction. So 1600 kg/ha x 80% = 1280 kg/ha calcium from the soil. This leaves 1520 kg/ha, made up of phosphate, magnesium, potassium etc. This means that 1280 kg of the original 40 000kg of fresh produce is actually calcium, and this calcium came from the soil. And from one hectare of land.

Example - Grain Corn Rows per ha = 1720 [36inch row spacing]. Seeds per row [6 inch spacing] = 420; or 72 618 plants per ha. Assume 30% seed losses; so 59 832 plants per ha survive . Potential Yield Assume an av.ear size 25cm long, min.16 rows of kernels at 45 kernels per row. This provides 45 x 16 = 720 kernels per ear. Assume av.dry weight at harvest of 0.55 g per kernel. 720 x 0.55 = 396 g per ear. 59 832 plants producing one ear at 396 g per ear = 23 693 kg/ha or 23-24 t of grain per ha [9-10 tonne /acre]. Is this too much too expect? Not if you consider most yields are less than half of this with higher planting populations. What is happening then? Basically the energy is not there to grow the plant and produce an ear of corn per plant. The reserve TDN required to grow and fill the grain is not there. The sugar content is (in many cases) less than half of what it should be. The weight per kernel is far too low. In fact grain kernel weight is more often 0.3-0.4gms.

Now lets look at a Reams Soil Calcium level of 1000 kg/ha [a reasonably comThere is one catch to this and that is: mon Reams test result] and predict the only 50% of the TDN can be removed in yield. one growing season, providing the phosRemember only half of this Calcium is phate-potassium ratios are correct. available for this corn crop. Therefore the soil requires 2569 kg/ha So only 500kg [500 000gms] of calcium of plant available calcium to produce is available and each kernel requires the 40 000kg/ha of fresh produce. 0.0444gms of Calcium. This would produce 11 400 000 kernels. If each ear With 4000-5000 Reams Soil Tests now contains 720 kernels, this would yield This means the maximum of 80% of the conducted by us in New Zealand, and 15 800 ears of corn per ha. If each ear plants mineral energy is taken from the soil calcium levels ranging from 300-800 weighs 396 g then the estimated yield atmosphere. kg/ha, its no wonder we have serious would be 6.2 t of grain per ha which is yield and quality issues. what we see in practice. Now lets do the sums. This will help to When a farmer does not pay attention to soil energy principles, its not only a gamble to farm but the farmer will be lucky to get 3-5% of the energy from the soil. On the other hand when all the parameters are dealt with, it becomes possible for a farmer to utilize the maximum soil energy for growth [20% of the sum of nutrients contained in a plant].

If you can: start the day without caffeine, get going without pep pills,

take criticism and blame without resentment,

ignore a friend's limited education be cheerful despite aches and pains, and never correct him, resist complaining and boring people resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend, with your troubles, eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

face the world without lies and deceit,

understand when loved ones are too conquer tension without medical help, busy to give you time, overlook it when those you love take relax without liquor, it out on you, sleep without drugs, 6

you are probably the family dog.