Whyalla Feedlot

Whyalla Feedlot Trials Highlight the Benefit of NatraMin Cal-S

Product Range: NatraMin Cal-S

Region: Texas, QLD

The Background…

Whyalla Feedlot Farm Manager, Gino De Stefani, oversees Whyalla’s farming operations of over 1000 hectares of both irrigated and dryland crops for the 50,000 head capacity feedlot west of Texas. A key concern for Whyalla was the presence of hard crusting soil that impacted on both cultivation and water infiltration. Once the soil crusts on top, water tends to run-off rather than penetrate.

Under the guidance of Texas Rural Traders Agronomist, Simon Piccini, Gino began trialling the benefits of NatraMin Cal-S as a soil conditioner in early 2006. Based on the results of these trials, NatraMin Cal-S was incorporated into the program for most of their irrigated country during 2007.

Monitoring Results…

The three centre pivots that were selected were split in half to produce 3 treatment areas and 3 controls. Soil samples were taken as part of the trial for future monitoring by consulting Agronomist Simon Piccini, of Texas Rural Traders. According to Gino De Stefani, there was an immediate improvement in soil structure after the first application of NatraMin Cal-S, however the softness and texture of the soil since the second application has been dramatic.

Initially, you couldn’t dig the soil with your hands, and when soil samples were taken prior to the trial, the soil probe wouldn’t even penetrate the surface crust. There is a noticeable difference between the treated and untreated areas of all three pivots. Just walking across the circles, you now sink into the soil where the NatraMin Cal-S was applied at 400kg/ha. Even on the tractor we notice the softness of the ground when we’re baling.”

Improved moisture infiltration and retention…

As a result of applying NatraMin Cal-S, moisture infiltration and retention has improved substantially, enabling Gino to double crop these areas. The ground where Cal-S was applied is soft on top yet moist underneath… a breakthrough for these soils that were prone to crusting and setting hard. Because the soil is softer and has better moisture infiltration, Gino also expects that given a good season this year, he will see more improvements in crop quality and production.

Reduced Chloride & Sodium levels…

Prior to applying NatraMin Cal-S, Chloride and Sodium levels were reported as high in these soils – Whyalla has now seen a reduction of these levels.

Nutrient levels improve…

According to Gino, “our nutrient levels were quite high for the major nutrients (N, P, K, S) so we haven’t used any other inputs. After double cropping, the interesting result has been that Phosphorus levels have increased (or been released) where NatraMin Cal-S has been used… despite having no Phosphorus applied.”

NatraMin blends are biologically activated by a catalyst designed to stimulate soil microbes… thus assisting to balance soil pH, unlock soil mineral and trace element availability, as well as improving the utilization of applied fertilizer. With the reduction in water run-off and increased soil moisture retention in the treated areas, the increased water efficiency has been a noticeable benefit. Given the positive results of these trials, Gino plans to continue to use NatraMin Cal-S as a soil amendment.

Results were convincing…

Agronomist Simon Piccini concludes,

NatraMin was new to this area and monitoring the Whyalla trials has been critical to ensure that we could measure a benefit. The 2006 NatraMin Cal-S trials were convincing, with measurable results as well as visual benefits… providing a base for Whyalla to continue using Cal-S in their 2007 program. NatraMin Cal-S is now widely used by our growers as a soil conditioner in the Texas and surrounding areas (at 300-400 kg/ha)… replacing the use of Gypsum. The results are in the paddock.”