Rain, rain, and more rain.
In several areas of New Zealand, the yearly rainfall limit has already been exceeded in under six months.
Take, for example, the numerous landslides that have occurred, especially in areas prone to erosion, like the hill country in Gisborne, due to the saturation of soils.
Ironically, water is the most limiting factor for pasture or crop growth.
So are your soil nutrients and farm profits being washed away?
Yes, very possibly!
Phosphorous loss comes at a considerable cost to farmers and the environment.
If the soil has sufficient moisture for leaching, water may carry nutrients away during drainage and disappear below the root zone.
Nutrients loosely bound to clay particles or organic matter in the soil are more likely to be washed away through leaching or runoff.
The appropriate nitrogen level for a crop is affected by several factors, including its utilisation efficiency. Various elements, such as weather conditions during application, the crop’s wellness and root system, the type of product utilised, and the availability of other nutrients, all have an impact.
How can you mitigate the amount of rainfall and its effects?
- When weather conditions are unfavourable, soil and plants may contain soluble nutrients such as nitrate and sulphate, which can easily be washed away. To maintain sufficient reserves in the soil, it is crucial to avoid cutting back on fertilisers since pasture is the most economical feed option.
- Investing in crops with higher Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) can lead to greater nitrogen uptake, resulting in higher returns on investment and reduced waste of nitrogen that could harm the environment.
- By using all other nutrients appropriately, efficient nitrogen management can lead to better returns, increased carbon sequestration, and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases like N2O.
Despite the excessive leaching due to heavy rainfall this year, the forecast indicates that the upcoming season will be comparatively drier.
– Welcome news within the agricultural sector.
As the upcoming elections approach, there is a hopeful anticipation that the farming industry will receive much-needed relief from the severe impacts of climate change and policy reforms. Farmers need to grow, thrive, and succeed in the industry they are experts in – farming.
Dr Gordon Rajendram is a New Zealand Independent Soil Scientist specialising in Soil Fertility,
Agronomy & Farm Environmental Consultancy.
9 Kakanui Avenue, Hillcrest, Hamilton 3216
P: 021 466 077
Web site: https://gordonrajendramsoilscientist.co.nz/
‘ Bringing science to the farm.’
P: 0274 587 724