Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

The importance of ‘nutrient efficiency’


The importance of ‘nutrient efficiency’

Bala Tikkisetty

Winter and early spring are when nutrients – whether introduced as fertiliser or produced by stock - are most at risk of getting lost from farms.

That’s due to seasonal and other factors such as high rainfall, reduced pasture growth, a huge amount of urine being produced, soil compaction and pugging.

To help farmers keep on top of the implications of this for their property’s profitability and impact on the environment, a farm nutrient budget is a valuable indicator of the status of nutrients in a farm system.

It indicates where fertiliser applications are inadequate and leading to a decline in the soil nutrient status. Conversely, it can indicate excessive inputs which result in a nutrient surplus and greater potential for losses of contaminants to waterways and groundwater.

So the overall objective of nutrient management is to keep nutrients cycling within the farm system, to make them available for promoting growth, and to reduce the losses to a bare minimum to protect the environment.

Most farmers know that some nutrients are more prone to loss than others, depending on the nature of the nutrient, soil type and climatic conditions. Therefore, in making decisions about nutrient management, it is crucial to take into account the channels by which loss occurs and the characteristics of the individual nutrients.

Besides produce, the channels by which nutrients leave farms include atmospheric loss, run-off and leaching. Depending on the production levels and farm management, these figures can vary greatly between farms. Nutrient budgets will provide this information in detail for individual properties.

Soluble nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur can particularly be lost by leaching, when water washes them through the root zone into deeper layers of the soil and they become inaccessible to plant roots. The leaching risk depends on factors such as soil type, total rainfall, extreme events and the actual quantity of soluble nutrients in the soil.

Avoid oversupplying soil with these soluble nutrients, especially before and during winter, as there is a very high risk of these getting washed out through the soil.

It’s nitrogen leaching to groundwater that is one of the main environmental risks from intensive farming. Generally speaking, there will be an increase in nitrate leaching the more fertiliser that is used.

In one study, where 400 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare was used, the nitrate concentration in groundwater increased to an average value of almost twice the commonly-accepted recommended maximum for potable water of 11.3 parts per million.

It was also revealed that gaseous nitrogen losses to the atmosphere increased by approximately five times between zero and 400 kg/ha treatments.

Phosphorus loss, on the other hand, mainly occurs from erosion and run-off. Research has revealed that phosphorus losses will be high in soils with high Olsen-P levels and also on steep to rolling country.

Good practices, including preparing and implementing nutrient budgets, have clear potential to bring about substantial improvements in the quality of our water resources and profits.

Waikato Regional Council is working with other stakeholders to help farmers adopt these practices and strongly supports the use of voluntary guidelines and codes of practices developed by the farming industry, such as the Code of Practice for Nutrient Management, Fertmark and Spreadmark.

• Bala Tikkisetty is a sustainable agriculture co-ordinator at Waikato Regional Council. Contact bala.tikkisetty@waikatoregion.govt.nz or 0800 800 401.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>

ALSO:

Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>

ALSO:

ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>

ALSO:

Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>

ALSO:

Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>

ALSO:


Telecoms: Spark Welcomes Spectrum Allocation And Prepares For 5G Rollout Over The Next 12 Months

Spark welcomes spectrum allocation and prepares for 5G rollout over the next 12 months Spark today welcomed the announcement of the direct allocation process of 5G spectrum, with the Company to be offered management rights to 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz ... More>>

ALSO:


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>

ALSO:


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>

ALSO:



University Of Canterbury: Astronomers Discover The Science Behind Star Bursts That Light Up The Sky

University of Canterbury (UC) astronomers are part of an international team that has revealed how explosions on the surface of a white dwarf star can increase its brightness by thousands or millions of times making it look like a new star. For ... More>>

Air NZ: Air New Zealand Adds Business-timed Flights For Regions

Air New Zealand will operate business-timed flights in and out of a number of regional ports from next month.
The flights will allow customers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill to undertake a day of business in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch... More>>

ALSO: