Across the country farmers are keeping a nervous eye on skyrocketing phosphorus prices, but there may be a solution right under their noses – or in this case their feet.
With some farmers being encouraged to lock in DAP (double applied phosphorous) and MAP (mono-ammonium phosphate) for $1400 a tonne exiting Melbourne, the long-term sustainability of the oldest profession is becoming increasingly uncertain. However, it is not all doom and gloom, according to NutriSoil director Nakala Maddock.
Mrs Maddock works closely with agroecologist David Hardwick from Soil Land Food and Soil Health Mentor Luke Harrington from Re-Gen Farming to help provide her customers with holistic advice on improving soil heath, and says the biggest key to success is accessing nutrient reserves. She teamed up with the duo last week to produce a podcast about phosphorus and opportunities to unblock reserves which farmers might not realise are available in their soil.
“The current situation with phosphorous has certainly got many farmers nervous, but with the right tools we can improve the soil biology cycle of nutrients including phosphorus.
“By improving soil health and activating the biology we can reduce the need for expensive external inputs, and it is not too late to start the process in time for the 2022 cropping program,” Mrs Maddock said.
In the Biological Farming Roundtable podcast which is sponsored by NutriSoil, the trio discussed the drivers of phosphorus price increases and actions which can be taken to wean farmers off their dependance on costly synthetic inputs, such as phosphorus.
Mrs Maddock said the three most important tools farmers can implement are optimising plant root systems, increasing biological diversity and improving grazing management. These initial steps will begin the process of nutrient cycling.
“It is not too late to plant a multispecies cover crop over summer which could include buckwheat, along with some pulses and legumes to help release phosphorus into the soil, making it available for the following crop. Companion cropping is also an option to help create available phosphorous for plants.
“In the podcast we discuss the importance of creating the opportunity to optimise root systems so soil biology can do the heavy lifting of cycling nutrients and making them plant available.
“There are many products on the market which can help kickstart the activation of soil biology and increase root growth, as it will take time to get all the processes in place,” she said.
For those looking for an opportunity to reduce phosphorus requirements for this coming cropping session, a twenty percent reduction is achievable as discussed on the podcast. This is a welcome prospect for many cropping farmers facing a fertiliser bill that has more than doubled in a year..
“Mother Nature has developed a pretty successful system for plant growth over the last 4 billion years, and I think she is sending us a message.
“If we can reactivate biology, improve soil health and reduce dependence on synthetic fertilisers, then we can minimise exposure to price increases, which is one less stress for farmers,” Mrs Maddock said.
To find out more about what steps you can take to start unlocking your phosphorus reserves go to the free podcasts on the NutriSoil website, or through mainstream podcast apps by searching Biological Farming Roundtable.
Alternatively, contact the team at NutriSoil on (02) 6020 9676.
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