NatraMin Cal-S Improves Soil Structure, Seed Emergence And Crop Yield In The First Year
Region: Dalby, QLD
Arrow Land Holdings farming operation, south-west of Dalby, have good reasons for using NatraMin Cal-S to improve soil structure, leading to improved yields in the first year.
Arrow’s Farm Manager, Bill Schloss, has had one primary focus since overseeing the farming sector.
We’ve always said from the start that we want to leave this farming land in better order than when we took it on while still being productive along the way,” Bill said.
Bill and the Arrow farming team are certainly well under way in implementing practices to meet this expectation. Improving soil structure has been one of the main priorities because pre-existing high Sodium levels in the soil contributed to a natural tendency for the soil to crust and set hard, limiting water infiltration, germination and ultimately, yield. Seed germination and plant establishment was as low as 60-70%.
In the first year, the results highlighted an increase in germination across both soil types and the soil was softer even to walk on.
Advice and soil testing were under the guidance of CRT Dalby Rural Agronomist Greg Hartwig and AgSolutions’ Paul Pritchard.
Historically it’s hard to establish crops in this type of country,” said Greg. “We needed to assist the top soil profile and had two options – NatraMin Cal-S or Gypsum. The granulation of Cal-S made it an easier option for application and an area of cultivation was trialled at varying rates to demonstrate the benefits to the client. We needed to improve the environment around the seed to increase plant establishment. You can’t get yield without plants first establishing.”
All cultivation has now had two applications of NatraMin Cal-S over the past 2-3 years and soil that previously had a 15mm crust and poor seed germination is now soft, allowing crops to emerge.
Our germination is now close to 100% and I can’t pick up a ‘crust’ from the soil surface, it crumbles when you handle it and this improvement has been reflected in yields.” Bill said.
When Arrow first took over ‘Glenrowan’, a dry-land farm, an inch of rain would pool on the surface like a lake and minimised opportunities for farming.
“We wouldn’t be able to get on this ground for 6-8 months, it wouldn’t dry out and generally meant we’d miss the winter crop opportunity. After two applications of NatraMin Cal-S this country has totally turned around and when we recently had 52mm of rain, it all soaked in evenly. This year Arrow has been able to plant a winter crop in soil with no wet patches,” Bill said.
Improved water infiltration and plant emergence equates to increased yield. The fact crops can now get out of the ground and grow is remarkable,” Bill stated.
Dry-land summer crop yields have increased by ½ to ¾ of a tonne/ha and yield increases for winter crops have ranged from ¼ to ⅓ of a tonne/ha. “These improvements would have been higher this year if we had a better season. We’re now yield mapping so our measurements in crop improvements will assist us to monitor soil performance.”
Arrow’s irrigation country ‘Broadwater’ has also measured similar improvements. After two applications of NatraMin Cal-S at 600kg/ha, cotton yield averages have increased by 35% from 3.5 to 4.72 bales per acre. According to Bill, these are good yields in this country and soil type.
Arrow’s local farming staff, familiar with these properties in the past, can’t believe the improvement in the soil structure and the excellent soil moisture across the varying soil types.
We wanted to do the right thing from the start, improve the productivity but most importantly, improve the health of these soils,” Bill said. “NatraMin Cal-S is now part of our program as a soil conditioner. We’re currently broadcasting our 3rd year of applications and will transition to lower maintenance rates of Cal-S to maintain soil structure and yields.”