Cropping Inputs, Diary Number 1
[Transcript of Cropping Inputs, Diary Number 1]
Hello. Welcome to this session of Cropping Inputs Diary. To start this series on cropping inputs, I want to start building with the first and most important thing that we need to do, which is Independent Comprehensive Soil Testing. When considering our inputs, good data and a full knowledge of our soil is essential. don’t believe in soil testing every year, as it can be a waste of money and time. If the soil test is comprehensive, then we don’t need to test very often, a comprehensive soil analysis will give us a complete picture where our soil is at with a report of recommendations that may need several years of applications before monitoring again.
I believe testing once every 5 years is adequate. Please note that I used the word independent. This is very important, because many soil tests I see are corrupted with vested interests. In other words, manipulated towards the products they sell. I emphasize the term comprehensive because we want a full picture of our soil. Most soil tests that I see are less than adequate missing key measurements. This then results in a compromised report and recommendations. The first thing we look at in the soil report is the balance of chemical makeup of the soil. The deficiencies and accesses will be shown and a recommendation of inputs are designed to balancing the soil. This process my take a few or several years, depending on the soil. Once the chemistry of the soil is balanced then the physical structure of the soil will be ideal, in turn leading to enhanced biological activity. So the goal we are trying to achieve is a healthy active living soil working for us.
Briefly lets us look at an example. Firstly we can see that the report is Independent, done by a soil scientist and free of any vested interest. Next I can see how comprehensive this report is: First up we have the TEC, or the total exchange capacity of the soil, which is simply a measurement of the ability of the soil to hold nutrients. This measurement is essential for how much application of the various inputs are needed to balance the soil. Next is the important organic matter, and then the PH which is a symptom of imbalanced cations. So we then look at which cations are deficient and causing the low PH in this insistence. Back to the Anions, the sulphur levels in the soil have not been given the attention that it needs. The we have 5 phosphorus tests, so the farmer has a fuller picture of where this expensive input is for them and just how much available phosphorus of the total phosphorus pool the soil has. Further down we have chloride and salinity and trace element numbers. Further we look at calcium magnesium ratios and cations basic saturation percentages, very important for balance and soil structure. The graph and pie chart give a good picture at a glance of the balance in the soil report and below that a report on the total deficiencies of each nutrient that needs to be applied to bring the soil into balance. The next page lays out the recommendations where you will notice generic terms used so that the independent of the soil report is not compromised. I will expand on what we have just discussed in my next session, but in the meantime, it is time for soil testing and we have kits made up that we can post to you, so you can do your own soil test by contacting us on this number 08 8659 0000 or 0428 810 088.