1 A comprehensive soil test should be completed annually to determine what nutrients needs to be applied to the soil to maintain fertility balance. We recommend soil analyses by Perry Agricultural laboratories (PAL).
2 The soil is the plants stomach; please respect it. Human health reflects soil health.
3 Some chemical fertilisers kill microbes causing imbalances. Superphosphate and urea are deadly to beneficial soil fungi and other organisms. Nitrogen is the only major plant nutrient that you can grow yourself. Watch salt and ammonia levels, insist on applying only fertilisers which do the least damage to soil life and plant roots - nitrogen input can be drastically reduced over time by promoting soil biology.
4 Ninety-five percent of plant yield comes from the atmosphere, only 5% comes from the soil.
5 Fertiliser programs must be based around the calcium content of your soil. If calcium base saturation is below 60%, you will virtually have to purchase fertiliser ad infinitum.
6 The correct base saturation figures from PAL tests for soils are: calcium 65-70%, magnesium 10-12%, potassium 3-5% for pastures, 7-7.5% for trees, sodium 0.5-1.5%. Many NZ soils are well below these figures. Once these conditions have been met fertiliser requirements will drop substantially. Do not expect to address trace elements until those conditions are met. Soil pH will auto-correct to about 6.3 or 6.4 when the above conditions are fulfilled.
7 It is extremely important to get calcium levels up. Calcium is responsible for carrying other minerals into the plant but too much calcium can tie up other nutrients and cause deficiencies. Soil testing with a reputable lab is the only way to effectively measure base saturation and calcium levels.
8 Calcium and boron are synergists, therefore lime is more effective with boron added. Boron, along with copper, selenium, and cobalt, is commonly deficient in New Zealand soils.
9 Lime to correct calcium, not to “correct” pH, Calcium: improves root development, enhances microbial activity, increases the transport of minerals, is the vehicle that moves minerals into plants, improves soil structure, acts as a secondary messenger, improves plant health and disease resistance, is required for cell walls (pectin), enhances the rate of protein synthesis, serves as a weed indicator.
10 Dolomite is highly rated for its calcium and magnesium content; magnesium is found at the centre of the chlorophyll molecule, the plants light-harvesting, energy-producing centre. Magnesium also plays an important role in the production of oils and proteins, and energy metabolism.
11 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 activated biochar.
12 Soil fungi are responsible for retaining 100% 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.
13 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.
14 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 quickly reduce N inputs and grow more pasture or crop by using the Terragen ground-spray program. With is product, a bacterial spray enhances microbial life including several fungal species.
16 Bacteria have a carbon nitrogen ratio of 5:1 which means for every six bacteria eaten by protozoa (30:1), five parts of N are released. Nematodes are 100:1, so for every 20 bacteria they eat,19 parts of N are released into the soil. Up to 2000 kg/ha of N 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.
17 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 5 x N, 7 x P, 3 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%.
18 Sixty percent of the sugars manufactured in leaves are transferred to the roots at night. The nutrient responsible for that to happen is boron. Because sugar content in leaves is highest then, endeavour to cut hay or silage in late afternoon or evening. Fifty percent of that root sugar is exuded into the soil to feed the microbes. Microbes in turn make minerals available to the plant. Plants become a lot less susceptible to pests and diseases.
19 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 brix. A bee will not work flowers with a Brix level below 7; otherwise, it will expend more energy in collection than it will get back. Using a refractometer will help in monitoring Brix levels.
20 There are 74,000 tonnes of nitrogen in the atmosphere above every hectare. This can be sequestered in the soil by having Ca at 65-70% and Mg at 10-12% 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.
21 Dr Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel Prizes, stated: "In my opinion, one can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to mineral deficiency." If you accept this statement, then:
o Stock health problems are caused by poor fertility.
o Insect problems are a symptom of poor fertiliser programs.
o Fungal and bacterial diseases are symptoms of poor soil fertility programs.
o Fruit and vegetables that do not store have been grown with incorrect fertilisers.
o If you are dipping, dagging, and drenching, your fertiliser program is not working.
o If you must constantly re-grass areas of your farm, your fertiliser is failing you.
o If there is a crust on the effluent pond, the poor fertiliser program is the cause.
22 Most people confuse symptoms with causes. This is deeply ingrained in our lives. The disease itself is not the cause; it is a symptom of an already failing and deficient system. Once you accept that, you will have control over whether you and your property will be as susceptible to biotic and abiotic stresses (e.g., drought) or not.
23 Replacing the nutrients removed on an annual basis will not keep your soils in top efficient working order when you do that from a deficient or excess platform.
24 Organic matter (OM) is the single most important factor determining profit, yet just one kilogram of excess nitrogen will account for a loss of 100kg of soil carbon. Organic matter will decline slowly but surely.
25 Most farm soils being "fed" by chemical fertilisers are losing organic matter and the ability to hold nutrients and moisture. They are becoming more drought-prone, and pasture growth rates are decreasing, especially with very soluble nitrogen products. Some of these products reduce the cations calcium, magnesium and potassium.
26 Over time, correct fertiliser policies substantially drought-proof the soil, build organic matter and improve plant animal and human health.
27 If a soil with 1% humus can hold 24,000 litres of water, or the equivalent of 24mm rain before the water runs off, then 5% humus soil can hold 144mm of rain. More than 144mm of rain falling on soil with 5% humus will be lost to runoff, (depending on intensity). If soil has low levels of humus, it will not store enough water to feed rivers over summer, which is why summer river flows have been decreasing for many years.
28 On average, 73% of acid phosphate products complex (tie up) with aluminium, calcium, manganese, and iron within six weeks of application. Alkaline phosphate products cost more, but are better value, as they do not tie up and become fully available for plant use.
29 Phosphorus, along with nitrogen is responsible for eutrophication of our water supplies. Eutrophication is increased algal growth and decreased oxygen levels of drains, rivers, and lakes, owing to chemical phosphorus and nitrogen reaching waterways. One kilogram of phosphorus in the water can grow 350-700kg of algae.
30 Available phosphorus translates into better stock growth rates and weight gain. Replacing acid phosphorus with alkaline fertilisers and increasing calcium levels will cause elevated aluminium and iron levels to fall as the soil comes into balance. Weed pressure will also reduce.
31 Soluble phosphorus products kill vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (VAM). Mycorrhizal fungi can increase the roots effectiveness by 10-1,000 times or more, and plants grown with VAM have superior nutrition. Plants too well supplied with P, prevent VAM from colonising their roots. Lack of VAM leads to soil erosion and leaching. New Zealand's rates of soil erosion and leaching are very high.
32 Soil scientists claim 16 elements are required to support life. However, geneticists maintain that at least 64 nutrients are required for healthy life. If one or more minor element is missing, another can substitute, but it cannot carry out the same function as the missing nutrients; disease will follow.
33 Potassium chloride (KCI) kills microbes; just 2ppm (4kg/ha) of chloride is enough to cause harm and the net effect of this is rock-hard soil. KCI also encourages certain weed growth. Potassium chloride has a salt index of 116 – potassium sulphate has a salt index of 46. Insist on applying only potassium sulphate. Use of KCl increases the leaching/erosion of N & P. Plants grown with KCl taste awful to both humans and animals. The chloride partly overwhelms the plant, reducing K uptake, making potassium sulphate a far more economical and healthy option.
34 If nitrogen is high in the soil, potassium should also be at high levels. If both of these elements are at luxury levels, then all elements need to be lifted to luxury levels for maximum production. If tissue tests show high manganese and low zinc, that may indicate a potassium deficiency, regardless of the reported potassium level.
35 In general, the more NPK applied, the higher the yield, but the lower the mineral content, health, and quality of that product. A balance of all nutrients is required and must also include minerals that are required by animals, not just plants. When that balance is attained, yields and quality of produce are much higher than with NPK alone.
36 NPK grows crops, but does not build fertility or humus; carbon, calcium and microbes do. The higher the humus content the greater the ability of the soil to hold nutrients and moisture. NPK has grown pasture and is growing pasture, but the decline of organic matter and transfer of carbon to the atmosphere, is not sustainable or acceptable and must be addressed if farming is to be sustainable in the long term.
37 The label primary, secondary, major, trace, or minor signifies quantities of nutrients required, not their importance. All the minerals need to be included in a balanced crop fertiliser as they are all important. A shortage of trace minerals will cause crop problems the same way missing major minerals do.
38 Copper and sulphur improve flavour and nutrition, along with potassium sulphate. Adequate sulphur increases stem girth and leaf size. Stonefruit with uneven halves are lacking boron. Cracked stones and shrivelled kernels signify lack of manganese, Mn deficiency may lead to an excess of bull calves. K, Mn & Cu all contribute to timber and branch strength. Silicon strengthens plants’ ability to withstand pest and disease attack, and much more.
39 When base saturation comes into balance, foliar applications work more effectively and will have a positive effect on quality and yield.
40 Use pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and nitrogen in minimum amounts and only when necessary. Always add a carbon (humic and fulvic acids) to those substances. Sprays are only a quick fix and are a sure sign that soil and plant health is not optimum.
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.”