Monday, 28 September 2015

Liquid fertiliser

We've been foliar feeding our pastures for a few years but things have really gone up a notch this season and the results are quite stunning.

We still design, mix & spread our own brews using that awesome kiwi technology, the tow'n'fert...

...but the other parts of the system have changed radically thanks to our new manager who knows much more about this stuff than us.

First is the difference between a slurry and a foliar. The slurry goes onto fairly short grass at a high rate (250kg/ha) which means we cover about 4ha in one load. This is how we always did it previously and we are planning more slurries at maize planting time. But since late May we've been focusing on foliars.

The foliar goes onto quite long grass at a low rate (90-100kg/ha) so it's a pretty fine mist. We're hitting paddocks 10 days before grazing. Over those 10 days the products get absorbed into the leaves and the plant has time to share some of the bounty with the soil biology by exuding it through the roots. After all this sharing has happened, we graze it off leaving fairly long residuals (1700 - 1800 kg). The re-growth is astonishing.

The mixes themselves can include almost anything because the tow'nfert keeps everything in suspension while we travel out to the paddocks and while we're spraying. Since we're still transitioning to a fully biological system we usually have about 10kg of urea/ha in the brew, along with all the other goodies (humates, fish, lime flour and sometimes also molasses and/or milk). The last 10ha mix had 500 litres of water and 400kg of product.

I know this probably all sounds quite weird to most kiwi dairy farmers but the results are obvious in the paddock. Round 2 is at least a week away and it's looking pretty damn good.

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