Article: Earthworms & Vermicomposting

“Earthworms vermicompost is proving to be a highly nutritive ‘organic fertiliser’ and more powerful growth promoter …….against the ‘destructive’ chemical fertilisers which have destroyed soil properties and decreased natural fertility over the years” Read here

Contributions to ‘The Dairyman’ by Revital Fertiliser’s Mark O’Neil

Article 1: The Most Stable form of Nutrients by Mark O’Neill

Nutrient leaching exposes the New Zealand farmer to substantial financial risk in two key ways – breaching environmental compliances and the inability of plants to fully access nutrients in the soil.

Colloidal nutrients are the most stable (least prone to leaching) and the most plant available type of nutrient we can apply to our soils. Colloidal means that the particles can be as small as .002mm – mineral and organic colloids account for almost all the chemical reactivity in soils and greatly influence the availability of nutrients.

Many nutrients are also contained in the bodies of soil bacteria like Rhizobium and Actinomycetes. When these microbes die, the nutrients are released making them plant available – these types of nitrogen fixing bacteria are plentiful in soils and fertilisers that are colloidal in nature and form part of the life-cycle of healthy soils. Other factors also determine the availability of nutrients: the form and chemical properties of the element; soil pH; interactions with soil colloids, microbial activity and soil conditions – aeration, compaction, temperature and moisture.

Revital Vermicast is the ideal colloidal fertiliser for farmers to incorporate into their fertiliser program. A 50/50 blend of vermicast and lime at a rate of 500kg/ha will have a huge benefit in terms of helping in nutrient availability and addressing the problems of nutrient leaching and it avoids adding chemicals such as DCD which is problematic long term.

Farmers using Revital Vermicast and vermicast blends are already optimising nutrient cycling in their soils and reducing nutrient leaching – a key issue today for farmers.

Article 2: Lime v.pH by Mark O’Neill

A high pH does not necessarily mean there is no shortage of Calcium availability because pH is a measure of the ratio of H+ ions to OH- ions doesn’t reflect the availability of lime. Soils may have a low pH and a high Calcium base saturation and vice versa. In situations where soils have a seemingly satisfactory pH but significantly lower than optimum Calcium base saturation levels where the calcium has not broken down and released into the soil, it shouldn’t be assumed the soils don’t need lime. Calcium on soil exchange sites is not always freely available to the plant if soil biological activity is low.

Therefore, soils with good reserves and base saturation levels of Calcium but poor growth should respond well to the addition of small amounts of readily available calcium. Revital recommends rates of up to 100kg/ha mixed with a carbon source such as vermicast and compost. This will allow the very fine lime to be spread more easily and promote a healthier soil biology – this in turn solubilises the calcium and makes it plant available.

When applying these products, you will see an increase in pH and base saturation that is disproportionate to the amount of lime that has been added due largely to a significant increase in soil biology. Can we re-phrase this – is it positive, negative or neutral – what point is it making?

Article 3: Working with Nature by Mark O’Neill

In farming, we spend a lot of time trying to “beat nature” by planting new and improved grass seed, drenching our cattle against parasites and applying copious amounts of fertiliser. It is natural to strive to improve the business and stay ahead of new developments.

However, when situations arise such as the poor establishment of new grasses and parasitic resistance to drenches, there is a tendency to change drench or grass seed because farming research is constantly evolving and we feel the need to keep up.

One area that can be overlooked is the structure and biological life in the soil, which if healthy can lead to big overall improvements in farm performance Insert McCarty Testimonial
Many conventional fertiliser products we use now are not concerned with improving soil structure and aiding nutrient cycling. In pastoral farming, we put in a lot of fertiliser – but the plant availability of those nutrients in a lot of situations can be very low. At Revital Fertilisers we encourage the application of organic matter, lime and microbe friendly products, because it is soil microbes that make nutrients available to the plant and reduce leaching – which is both costly and damaging to the environment.

Our microbe friendly products can be compared to the oil in a motor “with no oil your motor will soon blow up no matter how much petrol you’ve got”. Farmers may feel they are doing well under their current conventional fertiliser regime – but they could do significantly better if they put a ‘bit of oil’ in occasionally.

Revital Fertilisers have a range of products designed to do the whole job give them a call and instead of trying to beat nature try working with it – the results will be a profitable and sustainable farming operation.

An article about the Benefits of Earthworms and Vermicast by Soil Scientist Nicole Masters

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