Feed the soil for great pastures and crops.
BioAg’s long lasting phosphate fertiliser, BioAgPhos, sulphur bentonite (S90) and trace element blends were developed specifically for situations where slow-release elemental sulphur is more agronomically suitable than sulphate sulphur, such as high rainfall areas where sulphate will leach. Typically one or potentially all of these trace elements boron, zinc, copper and molybdenum can be deficient in these soils. As such they can be added at source. This higher analysis range of S10 BioAgPhos, with or without traces is ideal for aerial application.
Several years ago during a tour of a property in New South Wales where BioAgPhos S10 plus traces had been applied it was evident that the grower had produce an abundance of good quality feed and very healthy beef cattle.
The main observation from the landowner was the large amount and quality of annual clover and medics in the pasture sward including 60 cm deep clover in early summer and still at a healthy level in mid-February.
A key benefit of clover production is the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen into the soil profile. As annual clovers and medics die, the nitrogen-fixing nodules decompose in the soil and release sequestered nitrogen, increasing the nitrogen bank in the soil that is available to maximise the production and metabolizable energy (ME) of grasses that have continued to grow in sward.
Expected dry matter yield
The importance of self-producing nitrogen pastures can be summed up as follows.
A 30% clover mix in a pasture sward can produce approximately 8-10 tonnes of dry matter production.
Per tonne, the legumes will fix 30 kg/ha of N.
This means if you have 8 tonnes of dry matter the pasture will produce 240 kg/ha of N (8 tonne x 30 kg per tonne = 240 kg).
Stored nitrogen cost comparison: grow vs apply
In cost terms, you have to apply approximately 500 kg/ha of urea (46% N) to get the same response in stored nitrogen as you would achieve for self-sequestering pasture such as clover and medics. (for every 100 kg you get 46 kg of N so 5 x 46 kg = 230 kg of N).
Clearly it is cheaper, more sustainable, and advantageous to get your pasture to fix atmospheric nitrogen than to buy it. Another important consideration is that the higher clover content will increase the protein content of the forage. This helps livestock put on muscle mass and store fat, meaning higher growth rates and quicker turn off times. This in turn leads to better paddock spelling and soil health.
There are many benefits to an annual clover- and medic-based pasture producing better quality and faster growing livestock, resulting in a better gross margin per hectare.
Key points to consider
Long-lasting slow release P and S assist clover production in high rainfall acid soils, ideal for turning rain into meat.
Soil tests will target specific limiting factors in a soil as a means to increase production.
Healthy pastures with a good clover and medic proportion assist in creating weight gain and muscle mass in beef cattle.
Long lasting P and S from these blends allows bi or triennial application so capital amounts of P and S can be applied with confidence.
Matt Helder, co-owner of Dindi Ag and operating out of Yea is our NE Vic distributor. He is a qualified agronomist and very knowledgeable in this area.
"If you’re doing a great job growing clover and concerned about bloat, take care that your calcium levels are where they should be, before letting livestock into the paddock. A pH test is unlikely to give an indication of calcium levels. Instead, check your soil test results, or even better, get a feed analysis done one week to ten days prior to putting stock on clover. Talk to Matt or any one of our certified local BioAg Regional Managers about recommended calcium levels for your situation."
Trace element application
When it comes to trace elements, prices have escalated significantly in recent years, particularly for commonly deficient elements zinc and copper.
Trace elements such as zinc and copper can either be applied to soil at capital rates.
Consider this alternative. Trace elements can also be applied directly to plants as part of a foliar application – for as little as 10 percent of the quantity and cost.
This trace element application approach will not build soil levels.
Instead, it directly addresses plant deficiencies so that production is not limited.
Last year we released CuZin - a zinc and copper sulphate solution at the optimum Zn:Cu ratio. CuZin is suitable for application to either soils or plants by boom spray.
Your BioAg agronomist will be happy to help you develop strategies to address trace element deficiencies.