The importance of getting your soil tested before you add fertiliser was on show at Uptake’s Mid-Winter Christmas event with a talk from Hamilton-based leading Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram (PhD). “I’ve got a saying – if you do not test, you cannot manage,” says Gordon.
An expert in all things soil, Gordon advises that “it’s very important that you must test the soil and herbage, this testing will come in at less than one percent of your fertiliser bill,”. Soil testing is an investment in the future health of your soil.
An ASC test (Anion Storage Capacity), previously known as P Retention, is a measure used to define the phosphorus (P) immobilisation potential of a soil “This is the number one test for me, it’s the ability of the soil to hold on to phosphate and sulphur,” says Gordon. An ASC test must be included with every sampled area to determine its level. This is then extremely valuable information when bearing in mind the use of phosphorus and sulphur fertilisers.
The ASC test is done by testing the level of iron and/or aluminium oxides in the soil. A low ASC soil will have little P binding sites, while high ASC soils will have numerous binding sites. “Soils on New Zealand farms generally typically have an array of ASC between 0 – 96%. Soils with ASC with less than 40% are more likely to be susceptible to phosphate loss,” advises Gordon.
Soils can change over time, that’s why regular soil testing is crucial to the continued health and success of your farm. You may not be able to change your soil type or the climate, but you can control the amount and type of phosphorus and sulphur that are applied to vulnerable areas.
Gordon has dedicated his professional career to helping farmers across the country get most out of their soil so that their farm can work more efficiently, be sustainable while improving the farm profitability.
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