New Zealand’s Independent Leading Expert In Soil Fertility, Hamilton-Based Gordon Rajendram, Discusses Sustainability

Futureproofing for Sustainability
The practice of agriculture meets the needs of present and future generations in textiles and
society’s food without compromising the ability of current or future generations to meet
their needs.
Agriculture is important in our environmental footprint, as it contributes to causing climate
change, water scarcity and pollution, land degradation, and deforestation.

I. One way to improve agricultural and food production practices is by
incorporating biological and ecological processes such as nutrient cycling, soil
regeneration, and nitrogen fixation.
II. We can help the environment by using fewer non-renewable and
unsustainable resources, especially those that are harmful to the
III. Farmers’ expertise can be utilised for efficient farming practices and for
promoting self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
IV. The cooperation and collaboration of individuals with diverse skills are
utilised to address agricultural and natural resource challenges. These
challenges encompass pest management and irrigation issues.

Sustainability in agriculture must incorporate the following principles:

o Providing nutrient-rich food for farmers, farm families, and communities
helps to maintain good public health
o Farming operations must be profitable, or they risk going out of business.

Sustainability requires three key principles:
I. It is important to ensure that the fertiliser used remains in the soil and does not get
washed away below the root zone or runoff.
Significant this last season as it rained from Nov 2022 through summer, autumn, and winter
A significant amount of nutrients, specifically nitrate-N, and sulphate, will be lost through leaching (measured in kg/ha).
Applying soluble phosphate to low ASC soils is more likely to runoff or leach – therefore, it is
best to apply a small component of the quick release and the majority as slow release N, P & S fertilisers. 

II. Pasture growth costs are relatively low in New Zealand, and farmers excel at them
due to the lack of subsidies, unlike other countries. The price ranges from 1 cent per
kilogram of dry matter for sheep and beef to about 6 cents per kilogram of dry
matter for dairy. 
For the system to be sustainable, it is important to grow and convert forage into meat or
milk (protein) at a lower cost to increase efficiency and promotes sustainability.

III. Consider incorporating legumes like clover to enhance feed quality and fix nitrogen.
Other useful herbs include plantain, chicory, and deep-rooting forages that can
absorb leached nutrients that traditional ryegrass and clover pastures might not.
These herbs also have a unique ability to absorb trace elements, which differs from
rye and clover pastures.
Farming practices must be ecologically sound, promote healthy biodiversity, and sensible
management of natural resources in order to promote sustainability.

Dr Gordon Rajendram is a New Zealand Independent Soil Scientist specialising in Soil Fertility,
Agronomy & Farm Environmental Consultancy.

Gordon Rajendram
9 Kakanui Avenue, Hillcrest, Hamilton 3216
P: 021 466 077
Web site:
‘ Bringing science to the farm.’

Phillip Quay
P: 0274 587 724

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