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Trace Elements for Organic Farming Success

June 7, 2016

Last month Fonterra announced a 65% jump in its organic milk price for the 2016/17 season in response to worldwide rising demand for the “pure” white stuff.  The forecast organic payout at $9.20/kgMS makes converting to organics seem like an attractive option.

 

But organic farming is not without its challenges and to profit from this payout, production and performance need to be the best they can be. In a system where inputs are limited, sustaining optimal production in the long term requires careful management and informed decision making.

 

Back in 2000, Condron et, al.* published a paper comparing soil and environmental quality under conventional and organic farm systems. This paper aimed to answer questions around the sustainability of organic farming in New Zealand. In conclusion the authors found that while organic farming under a well-managed Bio-Gro system, with sufficient supply of nutrients is sustainable over the long term, there were concerns over trace element supply. In fact, they stated:

 

  “For the successful organic farmer a knowledge of the trace element status of the soil and the requirements of crops and animals is essential”.

 

We completely agree with this and would argue that it doesn’t just apply to organic farmers!

The following factors (and more) all contribute to trace element imbalances:
 

  • Decreased plant availability over time due to reactions within the soil

  • Change in availability with pH variation due to lime application

  • Seasonal fluctuations in trace element content of pasture

  • Composition of the sward

  • Stock type and age

  • Interactions with other elements in the digestive system

 

 This mineral interaction chart gives idea of the complexity of interactions between trace and macro elements in the animal, plant and soil.

 

At Mineral Systems we take all of the above and more into consideration when determining trace element sufficiency on your farm. We can prescribe Organic certified mineral blends and recommend approved fertiliser options.

 

Ensure every decision you make is well informed. Whether you farm organically, biologically or conventionally we can help you get your trace element balance sorted for the profit of your farm.

 

Call us today to discuss your options - 0800 765 854.

 

*L. M. Condron , K. C. Cameron , H. J. Di , T. J. Clough , E. A. Forbes , R. G.McLaren & R. G. Silva (2000) A comparison of soil and environmental quality under organic andconventional farming systems in New Zealand, New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 43:4, 443-466.

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