Bac­te­ria an­swer to ni­tro­gen leach­ing

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

Ni­tro­gen pol­lu­tion in New Zealand’s wa­ter­ways could be erad­i­cated and farm­ers could save thou­sands following promis­ing trial re­sults of a Toko­roa com­pany’s bac­te­ria-based fer­tiliser sys­tem.

For 18 months Jones Agri owner Mark Jones-cio­chetto has been tri­alling a sys­tem us­ing liv­ing bac­te­ria and hu­mates that al­low ni­tro­gen to be fixed from the at­mos­phere rather than ap­plied ar­ti­fi­cially.

Tri­als have not only elim­i­nated leach­ing, which is one of the lead­ing causes of wa­ter­way pol­lu­tion, but also im­proved pas­ture growth twofold elim­i­nat­ing the need for con­ven­tional fer­tilis­ers al­to­gether.

‘‘Re­gional coun­cils are com­ing down on dairy farm­ers firmly at the mo­ment over their use of ni­tro­gen but we have a bac­te­ria which does not need you to ap­ply ni­tro­gen,’’ Jones-cio­chetto said.

‘‘We go into farms and ap­ply our liv­ing bac­te­ria with our hu­mates and other fungi and that fixes ni­tro­gen from the at­mos­phere the same as clover does and be­cause the ni­tro­gen is be­ing fixed from the at­mos­phere re­gional coun­cil’s don’t even need to come in.’’

‘‘In most of the tri­als we are get­ting 50 per cent more dry mat­ter in the pad­docks than the rest of a farm where con­ven­tional fer­tilis­ers have been used which means more feed be­ing grown for the an­i­mals.

‘‘The cell count of the cows in the bulk milk vat is also go­ing down, the pro­tein level of the milk is go­ing up roughly by 15 per cent so farm­ers are get­ting more in their pay cheques, and an­i­mal health is im­prov­ing so vet bills are also go­ing down.

Jones-cio­chetto said the the­ory be­hind the bac­te­ria based sys­tem has been around since 1952 but un­til now no one has been able to get it to keep work­ing.

‘‘We have cot­toned on to what to put with it and how to feed it. There are lots of pro­ce­dures you have to fol­low and things you can’t do but once it is in the ground and the bi­ol­ogy is work­ing it grows grass,’’ he said ex­cit­edly.

He said the sys­tem was also cer­ti­fied Biogro or­ganic.

‘‘Joe public want to know what they are eat­ing now and they don’t want chem­i­cals,’’ he said.

‘‘All the prod­ucts we use you could ac­tu­ally drink and you could pour it into wa­ter­ways and it won’t de­stroy them.’’

His main clients are farm­ers but he’s also work­ing with or­chards and mar­ket gar­den­ers.

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