Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : October 2010 Contents 54 The Dairyman OCTOBER 2010
This spring: consider feed biology
ADVISORS recommend farm inputs
based on soil tests. They work on the
principle that whatever elements are
reading low need to be applied to the pasture.
There are two fatal flaws in this system:
1. Routine chemical analysis of soil can
indicate precisely only the total of an ele-
ment; it cannot give us the availability of an
2. The deficiency of one trace mineral may
not always be corrected by the simple addi-
tion of this one micronutrient. The lack of
one trace element may in fact be attributed to
an excess of another. For example, excess
copper and zinc reduce iron availability.
On pasture, an excess of molybdenum pro-
duces a copper deficiency. The major prob-
lem with chemically manufactured mineral
sources is that they can be locked up in the
soil (or leached) and are not efficiently
utilised by soil, plants or animals. It is there-
fore sensible to provide the complex
micronutrients contained in seaweed to
unlock out-of-balance soils and feed the biol-
ogy. No amount of chemical fertiliser will do
The biological life (stock) under the
ground will take care of balancing the soil
chemistry and grass will grow.
A conventional dairy farmer (Farmer A)
who has used AgriSea seaweed across his
own farm for 6 years told us this story recent-
ly. He leased a new run-off in 2007 from
another farmer (Farmer B) who proudly
showed him his "perfectly balanced" soil test
for this lease block. Problem was, the grass
was not growing -- it was patchy and
Farmer A asked permission to use seaweed
on the block and Farmer B reluctantly
agreed. The lease block produced healthy
grass and the cows have thrived for the past
three years. This year, Farmer B ordered
another soil test on his lease block. He was
appalled to see it was "out of balance" -- high
on magnesium and potassium.
Would you want a lab report that says your
soil is perfectly balanced chemically, but
grass won't grow? Or would you want
healthy soil, healthy pasture, healthy cows
and a lab report that says that soils are out of
balance? No brainer.
Over time the increase in biology
will bring the excess of these two elements
back into normal range. In the above exam-
ple, the seaweed was mining or releasing the
fertiliser that had been applied year after year
but was no longer available for plant use and
Seaweed contains naturally occurring
chelating compounds such as mannitol.
These make some micro nutrients that are
already in the soil (but which are not avail-
able to plants because of solubility) available
to plants in a chelated form.
Franki (1960) found the leaves of sea-
weed-treated tomato crops suffering man-
ganese deficiency contained more man-
ganese after seaweed application than was
present in the seaweed itself. The seaweed
had released previously unavailable man-
ganese from the soil.
Abetz and Young (1983) found that lettuce
plants were not affected by NPK application
but seaweed application increased the mean
diameter of the lettuces' heart significantly.
They concluded that seaweed assisted the let-
tuce plants to more efficiently utilise the
NPK already present in the soil.
Seaweed can, in effect, release or mine
locked-up elements in the soil. Most soil
tests cannot measure the availability of an
element -- only the volume of any element.
Phone 0800 SEAWEED for more
--- copy supplied
AgriSea rep Wayne Wirihana, with Eddie and Mark Shaw, NZMP 2002 Farmer of the Year.
Helping YOU get more Producti
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