“Making Sense” of soil test results…
Every day, AgSolutions assists farmers to assess their soil nutritional program and our soil testing service has become well regarded because of our comprehensive and holistic approach.
At a training event with an international speaker, the AgSolutions team were congratulated and told that their soil test recommendation was the only one that made sense! While other seminar participants were fast to jump in and recommend the use of specific fertilisers, the AgSolutions team concentrated on how much additional information they needed to enable them to make a sound recommendation.
Their questions included the history of past inputs, the performance of previous crops, soil type and structure, rainfall, irrigation, paddock slope, as well as information relevant to the current crop.
Soil testing is only the first step… it gives us pointers as to where to go. In addition to checking for nutrients that are lacking in the soil, it is very important to give special consideration to elements that are high. High levels of nutrients can be the restricting factor affecting soil structure and nutrient availability.
Balanced broad spectrum minerals are essential to avoid nutrient ‘tie-up’
High levels of nutrients (which may occur naturally in soil or be applied by way of fertiliser) can have a ‘tie-up’ effect on other elements. For example, Nitrogen increases the availability of Magnesium but reduces the availability of Molybdenum, Copper, Potash and Boron. Looking at the Moulder’s circle chart on the right, if you follow the arrows from Nitrogen, each red arrow indicates a negative impact on the element that it points to, and a green arrow indicates stimulation of availability of the element that it points to.
The overuse of Lime can impact nutrient availability
Looking at the Moulders chart, because high Calcium levels reduce the availability of Manganese, Potash, Iron, Phosphorus, Boron, Zinc and Magnesium, it is important to consider the impact of the repeat applications of Calcium by way of the use of Lime for pH correction.
Soil naturally high in Magnesium
Soil that is naturally high in magnesium tends to be hard and compacted when dry and very sticky when wet. As well as being difficult to work, these soils often have low water infiltration and poor seed germination. As shown on the Moulders chart, high Magnesium increases the availability of Phosphorus but reduces the availability of Calcium, Potash, Nitrogen and Zinc.
Soil pH has an impact on soil microbes and nutrient availability.
Biological activity is essential for soil and crop health. Microbe and worm activity assist to release nutrient lock up, balance soil Ph, and convert organic matter into humus. Good humus levels in soil provides a storehouse for moisture and crop nutrients, helping to improve soil structure and seed germination.
In the chart shown, a pH between 5.5 and 7 provides the best conditions for soil microbes and nutrient availability.
AgSolutions Field Advice…
AgSolutions work on the basis that each property is different… and even the soil type and condition can vary widely within a property. For this reason, AgSolutions’ Field Advisors work closely with farmers, assessing their needs in a range of areas on the property.
Our comprehensive soil test report provides information for you to understand underlying issues that can impact productivity. In addition to soil management strategies, we provide recommendations that identifies appropriate starter fertilizers and other required inputs as well as the most suitable blend of NatraMin to fertilize and condition your soil.
Other factors considered in our recommendations are soil aeration, crop rotation including a legume, rotational grazing, and incorporating plants with different root depths that can assist to break up tillage pans and also to bring up minerals from lower levels in the soil.
Restore the mineral balance:
Across Australia, in all sectors of Agriculture, many producers who have made the change to include NatraMin in their soil management program have reported a noticeable difference in their soil and crops.
NatraMin is formulated to provide broad spectrum minerals and to stimulate microbe and worm activity in the soil. In addition to restoring broad spectrum minerals, NatraMin provides high levels of Silica. Silicon (the elemental form of Silica) ranges from 16.5% – 25% in different NatraMin blends.
Silica is known to have the following benefits for soil and crops:
– Regulates plant uptake of Aluminium, Manganese and Iron.
– Major influence on the absorption and translocation of macro and micro nutrients within plants.
– Strengthens the cell wall of plants reducing damage from frost and heat stress.
– Assists plants to resist fungi and insect attack.
– Up to 50% increase in chlorophyll level in plants.
– Increased root development.
– Reduces transpiration (water loss) increasing plant tolerance to dry conditions.
– Reduces Sodium uptake by up to 20%.
To rebuild soil fertility, AgSolutions recommends a program of re-mineralisation, mulching and crop rotation including a legume. Soil aeration is recommended where necessary and practical. Repeat applications of NatraMin are vital to restore minerals elements to your soil. As soil fertility improves, water soluble fertiliser can often be reduced.
Using NatraMin to replace Gypsum:
To address soil structure issues associated with high Chloride and Sodium levels, many producers have made the change to use NatraMin as a soil amendment. The charts below show the reduction in Chloride and Sodium levels and the associated improvement in soil structure after using NatraMin.
Sustained pH improvement without the use of Lime
“Soil pH remained below 5 despite having 1 tonne of Lime applied every third year for over 20 years. With the combination of annual applications of NatraMin and reduced amounts of water-soluble fertiliser, soil pH improved and was sustained at optimum levels.” – Frank Boyd, Dairy