Monthly Growing Tips

Monthly Growing Tips

1) Build CaBSi Into Every Program

No, I’m not suggesting that you offer more support to the taxi industry! It’s about a trio of key minerals that should be an integral part of your crop nutrition. Calcium (Ca) boron (B) and silicon (Si) are synergists and together they represent proactive cell strengthening that will reduce both disease and insect pressure. The two minerals that can effectively create a protective barrier (a strong cell wall) are calcium and silica and both of these minerals need boosting in most of the crops with which we work. The key to harnessing their protective power is boron, as this mineral activates both of them. Timing is important to gain maximum benefit.

The most productive timing involves an application of this trio in late winter and again just before flowering. The late winter application is applied to the soil as a liquid, via fertigation or boom spray, depending upon the crop. The choice of inputs is important here as soluble silica is notoriously incompatible with many fertilisers. We have found the following late winter recipe to be effective:

Soil Application in Late Winter

RationalePhos-Life™ is liquid micronised guano containing over 25% calcium and a helpful phosphorus component (10%). Humic acid should always be included with any boron input to form a boron humate which is a much more stable complex. The humic acid offers many other benefits including the magnification of the calcium, phosphorus and silica components via cell sensitisation (increased membrane permeability).

CaBSi Pre-Flower Foliar

The second application of this dynamic trio involves a foliar before flowering. Here is a good recipe:

These components should be mixed in 500 L of water per hectare.

Rationale – Boron is incredibly important to maximise the reproductive response. Calcium is required at this time for cell division, phosphorus to supply reproductive energy and both are present in Phos-Life™. Kelp and fulvic acid are proven flower enhancers and silica helps to optimize plant strength during flowering.

2) Produce a Fertilising Super Compost with These Additives

Agriculture is confronted with the twin specters of peak oil and climate change. Some find it difficult to wrap their heads around the fact that global warming can be delivering both droughts and floods but it was always the prediction that we would see many more extremes. Professor Julian Cribb, author of an impressive book called The Coming Crisis, spoke at my recent conference. His not so comforting words, amidst the wettest time in recorded history were, “Welcome to the future!”. He also spoke about the decline of non-renewable resources like phosphate and potassium. Julian suggested that we actually reached peak phosphate late last century and as a result phosphate is destined to rise and rise from here on in.

The two questions for growers seeking a sustainable future should be, “How do I reduce my reliance upon petrochemicals?” and “How can I build more carbon into my soil?”. The answer to both questions is found in compost.

Compost represents stabilised CO2 that would otherwise have returned to the atmosphere as part of the carbon cycle. It also stabilises nutrients that would have otherwise leached in wet conditions. However, this is just the start of what compost offers. It is a microbial inoculum, which introduces a new workforce to build humus in your soil (for which you will soon be paid). It encourages natural nitrogen fixation and phosphate solubilisation to reduce requirements for these increasingly expensive inputs. Compost also sponsors the return of earthworms that offer a myriad of benefits. The achievement of high earthworm counts in your soil is really the holy grail of biological farming. Here are some ingredients that can be combined with your compost to create a biological fertiliser without peer.

Secrets of a Super Compost

  • Add 5% ash to your compost to achieve some of the attributes of biochar. Ash is also a potassium concentrate and this potassium is stabilised when composted.
  • Include 10% NTS Soft Rock™ during composting. This is a unique material based upon colloidal clay and as such it will encourage the formation of clay/humus crumbs. This is the secret to compost longevity. Compost with a clay additive can last up to 30 times longer in your soil. It produces stable humus that can last up to 35 years in the soil.
  • Add 10% brown coal (Nutri-Mate Organic Humates™) to your compost to supply all seventy trace minerals and a rich lode of humic and fulvic acid.
  • Include up to 10% basalt crusher dust in the compost. Check that the basalt has a paramagnetic reading exceeding 2000 to justify the exercise. The paramagnetic effect can have a massive impact upon compost quality. It has been shown to increase microbial subdivision by up to 400%. The compost will be more bioactive as a result and the paramagnetic effect will be transferred to your soil. Some of the trace minerals in the crusher dust will also be released as a result of the enhanced bioactivity.
  • Utilise urine – Many people assume that the poo contains all of the nitrogen when it comes to utilising manure but that is not the case. 80% of the nitrogen is found in urine and it is currently wasted. Sir Albert Howard, the father of organic agriculture, developed a remarkable composting technique that has been re-invented as “Higgins Howard” composting. One of the most important components of this compost is called “urine soil”. Urine (animal or human) is collected and added to a pile of soil where the microorganisms stabilise the rich compost component. This soil is then added to compost prior to composting to provide a nitrogen-rich end product. Proponents of this approach claim they can maintain yield with this fertilising compost and that they have no further need for commercial N fertilisers.

3) Don’t Overlook Molybdenum

This trace mineral, required in miniscule amounts, but important nonetheless, is often ignored. If we are to reduce our reliance upon petrochemicals then we need to source the bulk of our nitrogen from the atmosphere. There are the equivalent of 5000 truckloads of urea there for the taking, but a couple of things need to be in place before we can access this free gift. The most important of these is molybdenum. Your soil needs to contain 0.5 ppm of molybdenum and the vast majority of soils we test do not contain this required minimum.

Molybdenum is a building block for nitrogenase, the enzyme produced by nitrogen-fixing organisms to convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonium nitrogen in the soil. In its absence you are obliged to supply more nitrogen from a bag. Just 1 kg/ha of sodium molybdate added to compost, lime or other broadcast fertilisers is usually sufficient to fuel nitrogen-fixation. It can be supplied in lesser amounts as a foliar but this only supplies enough for a single season. The popular NTS product, Triple Ten™, contains all of the ingredients (including molybdenum, cobalt and phosphorus) for nitrogen-fixing organisms to perform.

Please contact NTS on +61 7 5472 9900 or for further information.