Soil testing and soil sampling is critical to improving the quality and mineral balance of your soil says New Zealand’s leading expert in soil fertility, soil scientist Gordon Rajendram (PhD).
The vital point of soil testing is to determine if there are sufficient levels of the essential elements for plants and livestock to grow at their best.
All physical things in the universe are made from 92 naturally occurring chemical elements. Living things such as plants and animals are mostly made of certain elements, depending on the life form. These are known as the essential elements of life, meaning that if all the other elements are present, but if one of these elements is missing, then the organism will fail.
There are 13 elements were needed for plant and animal growth, not just nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). A further three elements (cobalt, selenium and iodine) were essential for animal health and nutrition. “If your soil is deficient in one or more nutrients, your livestock and plants are not going to be able to receive enough of those nutrients to grow properly,” says Gordon.
Coming in at less than 1% of your total fertiliser costs, it is a cost-effective investment in the health and wellbeing of your plants and livestock.
When it comes to your livestock, if the pasture they are eating does not contain correct amounts of the right nutrients they will not grow in a healthy manner, or worse, become sick.
“In fact, Nitrogen is now one of the most limiting nutrients, in combination with soil temperature and moisture,” adds Gordon. Most dairy farms probably need only about 13kg/ha of P per year, but more than 70kg/ha is sometimes applied, leading to massive expenditure.
Accurate soil testing also provides a significant management tool in creating an efficient soil fertility programme, as well as watching out for potential soil issues.
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