Why enrich compost?
Compost benefits crops and pastures by adding stabilised carbon to the soil.
This provides a rich food source for the microbial system, feeding and expanding this system with greater nutrient cycling by the microbial system, and increased nutrient uptake to the crop or pasture.
Composts can supply some nutrients to a crop, but their real benefits are derived from improving the chemical and physical properties of soils rather than acting as fertilisers.
Composts can increase water infiltration, decrease the need for irrigation, and increase yields.
Addressing nutrient deficiencies
If crop nutrient requirements are not addressed (e.g. P, S, Ca, Zn or B) then they have the potential to be the most limiting factor in the crop or pastures development, affecting growth rate, health, size and ultimately, yield.
WATCH: How BioAg has been used in a Riverina vineyard operation to fortify compost
What is used to fortify composts?
BioAg’s range of natural fertilisers are ideal fertilisers to enhance composts for a number of reasons:
- They contain high analysis nutrients
- Nutrients are supplied in a long lasting and sustained release form
- They contain well below the maximum allowable limits for contaminants
- They resist common nutrient loss issues such as leaching and lock-up
- They are also available in certified organic variants
How blends are prescribed
A BioAg enhanced compost blend includes nutrients that are tailored to suit the individual target paddock.
Before prescribing nutrients we determine soil and plant needs through soil, leaf and tissue testing, measuring determinants such as:
- functional availability of nutrients
- soil pH
- soil compaction
- plant sugar content
- plant energy content
Nutrients are supplied in a form compatible with soil conditioners and synthetic fertilisers.
Test analysis results can be provided showing improvements being made to a farming system during and between seasons, such as:
- nutrient solubilisation ability
- nutrient cycling ability
- drought and disease resistance
- accessibility to nutrients, and
- residue breakdown
How compost improves nutrient uptake
The value of nutrients is greatly enhanced when used in combination with compost.
Having delivered the correct type and amount of nutrient required, the addition of compost provides for their fast and efficient cycling into a plant available form, as well as optimising the rate of plant uptake.
Less nutrient is lost through leaching from the soil as the rich source of stabilised carbon provided by compost increases the ability of soil to hold nutrient and moisture within the plant root zone.
The use of compost reduces the locking up of nutrients in the soil.
Reducing the cost to the grower
Meeting soil and crop requirements involves the consideration of physical, chemical and biological constraints.
Carbon, energy, structure, beneficial microbial populations, habitat and minerals are all addressed through the compost and nutrient blend approach.
Soil analysis ensures that deficiencies are addressed without over-applying any inputs.
The grower benefits as both nutrients and organic/biological matter are addressed in a single application.
By delivering a compost blend that supplies the appropriate nutrient package for each site, limiting factors are reduced, and the overall performance of the system is maximised.
When this happens, the perceived value of the compost blend increases above the value of a compost-only application.
Creating a complete fertiliser
The compost industry is very efficient at converting raw waste materials, both plant and animal based, into stabilised forms of carbon suitable for land application.
The perceived value of this compost is limited to its ability to address soil nutrient deficiencies or imbalances.
By enhancing compost with nutrients, based on robust agronomic principles, the overall return on investment of applying this blend will always be greater than the compost as a standalone product.
Coupled with this is the reduction in application costs, achieved by blending all of the nutrients required into the one product.
Modern agriculture is under constant margin squeeze and as a result sustainable/profitable producers are always investing in efficiency gains, whether that is in nutrient delivery or in reduced application costs.
By working together and combining individual expertise, Morellofert, Jeffries, Peats and BioAg have worked towards providing a total compost-based nutrient solution, and we hope a useful working example for the industry.