Invest in calcium, sulphur and phosphorus and build your soils to their best productivity.
As the 2020 season approaches, it looks like more farmers will choose high analysis fertilisers such as MAP due to its lower cost against traditional chemical fertilisers.
MAP provides nitrogen and phosphate, in a water-soluble form. When it is replacing the more traditional fertilisers, MAP will not supply calcium or sulphur. This means you need to consider your soil’s requirement for both of these elements.
Sourcing calcium and sulphur
Phosphorus, calcium and sulphur are highly important nutrients for producing quality pasture and crops.
A high analysis fertiliser such as MAP takes care of the phosphorus requirements.
All nutrients, including calcium and sulphur, are ‘exported’ from the soil and sent off-farm within food, fibre, livestock or produce.
The importance of calcium and sulphur
Neither calcium nor sulphur are available in the atmosphere. You need to apply them as fertiliser or through products like lime or gypsum.
Calcium is important in root and shoot stimulation. It helps with the mechanical strength of the plant by contributing to the integrity and selectivity of cell membranes. Calcium also activates several enzyme systems, helps neutralise organic acids within the plant and is essential for good seed set in subterranean clovers. Calcium can also help stimulate microbial activity and molybdenum availability.
Sulphur is used by plants to help with nitrogen metabolism, enzyme activity and protein and oil synthesis. It also helps stimulate soil biology, rumen biology and helps maximises wool tensile strength.
Test then apply
The initial step in any plan for the upcoming season is to take a soil test and analyse for nutrient needs.
Don’t plan to scrape through. Instead, maintain healthy levels of calcium and sulphur in your soils. By testing regularly and applying some of your requirements each year you will avoid the need for single large applications. Aside from cost considerations, large applications can be less effective. Applying too much lime or gypsum at once creates a greater risk of stratification, where they will create a layer on or in the soil profile inhibiting soil function.
A cost effective alternative for your farm
If you are conscious of cost then a cost competitive alternative to chemical fertilisers is a BioAgPhos blend, with lime or gypsum. A blend with sulphur bentonite would be useful where your soil needs sustained release sulphur. The right blend provides a full spectrum of essential nutrients for pasture and cropping.
We can supply blends ready to spread, or you can blend on-farm. In fact, you may be able to combine your phosphate application with your traditional lime or gypsum application to reduce your total spreading needs.
BioAgPhos can also be applied earlier than MAP as the phosphate will not leach or lock up, remaining available to pastures and crops when it is needed.
Trials confirm the effectiveness of BioAgPhos. Two recent trials show BioAgPhos performed at least as well as traditional fertilisers, and in some cases is the most cost-effective option.
The Dadswell Bridge area is located in the Wimmera region of western Victoria (Australia).
The common practice for pasture fertilisation in this region is to apply every second year. The aim of this trial is to mirror this practice, and test which fertilisers perform best using biennial rates and application schedules.
While a year one response is important, the trials main aim is to ascertain which (if any) of the fertilisers can best maintain production in the second year. Fertiliser application rates for pasture in this area is typically low, which is reflected in the trial.
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The aim of this trial was to assess and measure pasture dry matter response over time, comparing BioAg treatments (annual and biennial) with annual treatments of single super phosphate (SSP).
Based on the dry matter production and comparing per-hectare price over 4 years the trial showed that the most effective and cheapest option is to spread BioAgPhos Superb every second year.
Download the report