NZ Lifestyle Block - - Results -

THESE ARE the re­sults of soil tests I men­tioned in my July col­umn. The tests were on one half of the pad­dock which was per­form­ing well, the other half which was much poorer, and a pad­dock right next door which be­longs to a neigh­bour and has had no fer­tiliser or lime in

many years. There's noth­ing very strik­ing about them, ex­cept for the com­par­i­son be­tween my pad­docks and the neigh­bour’s pad­dock. The neigh­bour’s re­sult gives a clear ex­am­ple of a low Base Sat­u­ra­tion and low Cal­cium lev­els cor­re­spond­ing with a low ph. Phos­phate lev­els there are pre­sum­ably as lim­it­ing to pas­ture growth as the acid­ity of the soil

(with as­so­ci­ated Alu­minium tox­i­c­ity) and both would ben­e­fit

from be­ing ad­dressed. In our case, the pas­ture sam­pling (see page 36) em­pha­sised the

nu­tri­ents the plants needed ad­dressed, lead­ing to our ad­di­tion of Molyb­de­num, Salt and Sul­phur to this

year's RPR ap­pli­ca­tion.

in par­tic­u­lar. High-pro­duc­tion dairy pas­tures re­quire a lot more nu­tri­ents than a lightly-stocked block with older, mixed swards.

Good fun­gal life makes Phos­phate much more avail­able to your plants than it would be in a less lively soil. It is the long chains of my­c­or­rhizal fun­gal cells whose en­zymes break the bonds hold­ing Phos­phate deep in the soil ag­gre­gates and bring it back to their host plants. This means Phos­phate which is fixed and not read­ily plant-avail­able in many soils, be­comes much more so where there is high bi­o­log­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. You may need much less phos­phate than your fer­tiliser sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive would like you to buy if you pay at­ten­tion to over­all soil health.

I've changed my think­ing about soils and fer­tiliser while read­ing, think­ing about and writ­ing these col­umns over the past few months. It has been a process I'd like to con­tinue and I welcome cor­re­spon­dence on any­thing I've raised which you would like to ex­plore fur­ther.

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