Over the last 60 years science and research in the world has been concentrating on Production, this included, chemical and fertiliser companies, ag research and Universities, and we have been very good at it. The innovation of farmers world-wide has seen yields of produce double, even quadruple. The consequence is a huge removal of soil nutrients with only limited nutrient replacement with say superphosphates and urea. With this huge focus on production, Science has neglected CAUSE and concentrated on EFFECT.
It’s time for new thinking
The balanced fertility approach focuses on correct balance in soil nutrients to affect the Chemistry, Physics and Biology of the soil which results in healthy soils, healthy plants and healthy animal.
There is a direct relationship between the minerals in the soil and the health of plants and animals. Just buying and applying nutrients to the soil will not get them into plants. Even if you have all the minerals a plant requires at optimal soil levels there is no guarantee the plant can access them.
We need to be testing for ALL soil nutrients using a soil test that is designed to measure nutrients in their plant available form. The Albrecht Kinsey Soil Audit does this, it measures P2O5 for plant available phosphate, gives you actual kg/ha N,P, K, Ca & Mg and ppm for all of your trace elements and Sulphur. My measuring ALL of these nutrients in this way we can identify the cause of the pH not just measure the result.
The basic principle of soil balancing in the soil there are two types of minerals:
Cations (+V): These are attracted to the negative charged soil colloid in terms of strength of charge. Ca++ and Mg++ are held by the soil much firmer than K+ and Na+. Because of this the plant can feed relatively freely on these nutrients in the proportion with which they occur in the soil. The Basis of balancing a soil is ensuring you have the right combination (%) of these nutrients to allow for optimal soil structure (Calcium & Magnesium) and plant uptake.
Anions (-v): Positive charges in the soil come from Organic Matter and other positive nutrients that are not tied up. Most soils do not contain enough Organic Matter to hold the quantity of –v nutrients applied in one application, thi sis when these nutrients due to their chemical charge either leach or become tied up in the soil. The TopSoils approach to this situation is to use elemental based products that will weather and release nutrients over a longer period. This way you are feeding the plant over the entire growing season not saturation the pool of available nutrients with large applications of soluble –vly charged nutrient like Sulfate and Phosphate.
Productivity is determined by the most limiting factor. This is not always N,P, K &S the soil is a complex system where many nutrients interact with each other (See moulders chart.)
Excesses in one nutrient can antagonise the uptake of another soil nutrient, for example Phosphorous and Zinc . Or the opposite can be the case where elements are responsible for solubilising nutrients for uptake by the plant for example Boron and Calcium. If we are not measuring these elements we cannot manage them and the others they influence efficiently.
The application of unbalanced fertilisers can result in complex soil interactions that can lead to additional deficiencies in plant available nutrients.
While N,P,K & S are the main drivers for production, soils need the correct balance of soil nutrients to affect chemistry, physics and micro biology of the soil. Trace minerals are important for producing metabolites. Primary metabolites are synthesized by plants for growth and development. Secondary Metabolites are defence chemicals produced by plants for strengthening plants immune system improving suppression of disease and pathogen attacks. Calcium and Magnesium are the two nutrients that impact soil structure and compaction with magnesium tightening and calcium flocculating the soil.
If ad-lib minerals are required for stock this indicates a shortage in the soil. unbalanced soils and production driven fertiliser programmes can result in lush growth with very little nutritional value. Balancing soils benefit stock by providing nutrient dense food from improved Calcium, Magnesium and trace element availability in the soil improving clover persistence and production within pastures increased natural nitrification.