It’s time for new thinking

Our balanced soil fertility approach focuses on the correct balance of soil nutrients to affect the chemistry, physical and biological aspects of the soil. In turn, we encourage the production of healthy soils, healthy plants and healthy animals.

There is a direct relationship between the minerals in the soil and the health of plants and animals. Applying single nutrient fertilisers to the soil will not get them into the plants. Even if you have all the mineral elements a plant requires, at optimal levels, there is no guarantee the plant has access to them.

We need to test for ALL soil nutrients, using a soil test that is designed to measure plant nutrients in their available form. The Albrecht-Kinsey soil audit from the Perry Agricultural Lab does exactly this. It provides kg/ha of P2O5 as well as active quantities of N, K, Ca, Mg, as well as sulphur and trace elements measured in ppm. By testing for all these nutrients, we can understand the cause of a soil’s pH, not just the result.

“The key is to see fertilisers in a different light, not just as applied to assist plant growth, but, are required in a balanced way for a diverse role of functions in nature. See them as an investment, not as a cost”

Soil Balancing

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 or S. The soil is a complex system where many nutrients interact with each other (Mulders chart).

Excess in one nutrient can antagonise the uptake of another soil nutrient, i.e Phosphorous and Zinc. In addition, some elements are responsible for solubilising nutrients for uptake by the plant, i.e. Boron and Calcium. If we do not measure 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 and S are the main drivers of 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 synthesised by plants for growth and development. Secondary metabolites are defence chemicals produced by plants for strengthening their immune system, improving the suppression of disease and pathogen attacks. Calcium and Magnesium are the two nutrients that impact soil structure and compaction with Calcium flocculating the soil and Magnesium tightening the soil.

Animal health

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.