Getting the Balance Right
Balance is probably one of the most important words in general life. Balance between work, family, your own time, saving and spending, exercise and rest and the many other factors in your life. Balance is also a key factor in agriculture and one that some would argue does not get enough focus.
The Balance in Agriculture
In agriculture, as in general life, there is much to balance – crop rotations, short term and or long term profits, cash crop or sustainable rotations, traditional farming practices or high end technology use and the list goes on. In our area we have always had a focus on the balance of soil fertility and plant nutrition to ensure a long term sustainable profit.
Ah yes, your saying “there is that word sustainable”, a word often missed or overused in agriculture. But, tie it to economics and you have balance, as a farmer can be as environmentally sustainable as they choose, but if they are not economically sustainable they cannot be environmentally sustainable.
I was at shed meeting with some growers and government research members recently to discuss fertiliser options for their sugar cane and peanut rotations. I was invited due to work we do in North Qld peanuts and growers talking to their peers in Southern Queensland. Much of the discussion focused around peanuts due to the demise of the sugar prices and the NPK and Ca for the peanut crops.
It was interesting to sit and listen to the growers and the researcher discuss the NPK and Calcium approach to the crop. Normally, calcium is only ever discussed around lime and pH correction, but there was a glimpse of balance in the discussion away from just NPK, albeit peanut growers do understand the importance of calcium.
Now don’t get me wrong, NPK and putting back the elements taken out by a crop is obviously very important, but there in itself is a debate about balance. Should growers just use only traditional, inefficient fertilisers or view Enhance Efficient Fertiliser options? When I asked the growers about such options and liquid injection options, soil conditioning work after looking over some soil tests, disappointingly the balance ended there.
Getting the balance right between plant nutrition and soil fertility
This can be difficult for some growers to manage. It is often discussed why and there seems to be a resounding answer that growers just see costs and complication, when soil fertility work is mentioned. In the higher value cropping soil fertility it is an easier concept to grasp however, I also think there is more perception of being expensive and complicated rather than fact or at least from our approach it is.
Is it the problem that the majority of farmers have gone too far down the path of being too input focused rather than more output focused in farming? Or is this caused by the constant price pressures in different market sectors?
I don’t confess to know the answer, but I do see this as an important aspect in farming’s future!
https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/08/1016902It was interesting to read a UN article (click here to read) on how “soil health” has been identified as the one crucial aspect in feeding the world’s population. One could say….’really Sherlock’, but that would be the sceptic in me; it is positive to see more and more articles in mainstream and social media on the importance of soil fertility/health and being mentioned alongside, plant breeding technology, AI technology etc.
We see it as our responsibility to show more and more growers, agronomists and consultants that getting the balance right between soil fertility/health and plant nutrition for long term sustainable profits. It just needs to start with a soil test and looking at the balance of the nutrients, as the saying goes – ‘no nutrient is good unless all nutrients are good’.
Our Enhanced Efficient Fertilisers are an example of taking the best of the chemical world with the best of the bio-stimulant/bio-catalysts in the world to achieve balance and such profits. Or another example is incorporating bio-stimulants in with good macro and micro foliar programs or working on solutions to growers issues of salinity, nutrient runoff or poor soil health with a balance of surfactant, organic acids and broad spectrum bio-stimulants.