New Zealand is renowned for being clean and green and a global bigwig in dairy exports, but there’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to our legislative soil management.
“NZ is very behind the eight ball on this,” says managing director of nationwide consultancy Soil Matters, and head soil consultant for the Canterbury area, Rob Flynn.
“Europe and Australia have better protection of soils through legislating what farmers are allowed to put into it, but we’ve come a long way in the last 10 years.”
Rob works with local farmers and landowners to customise a specific formulae that balances nutrient percentages for optimum soil condition and fertility.
The main issues affecting Canterbury are water quality and overuse of synthetic, namely acidic fertilisers, which is having more of an effect on the biology (bacteria and fungi) of our soil and its composition, resulting in increased soil run off and a lack of rainfall protection.
The removal of shelterbelts and the degradation of soil structure adds to the pollution, leeching and loss of nutrients.
“Most people think that because they’re not an organic farm they don’t need organic solutions, but it’s about being aware of how important their soil is,” Rob says.
On top of that, good advice will save you money, through increased nutritional value of crops and pastures, a decline in weed and pest pressures, and better animal health.
Soil Matters provides comprehensive consultancy relating to all soil matters encompassing pastural, cropping and viticulture, including:
- Soil testing and reporting
- Individual soil and fertiliser recommendations and management plans
- Nutrient management and farm environment planning
- Customised eco-friendly sustainable fertiliser blends
- AgriMap setup and support.
Farms of 5ha+ in size must now have an EMP, which requires an overseer base line and includes restrictions on land use, nitrogen and phosphorus levels, and exceeding or not working within these limits results in a fine.
Rob emphasises that good farming involves good record keeping. The average frequency of testing is three to five years following the initial baseline test.
Technology has aided the management process with apps like AgriMap, through which farmers are able to record and easily access information and analysis of their farm. Rob hopes this encourages increased understanding around soil management.
“The more we can save our topsoil, the more we can produce without getting into hydroponics and intensive, synthetic fertilisers.
“If you have healthy soil, you have healthy plant and animal life.”
Soil Matters Canterbury
(03) 314 3753 / firstname.lastname@example.org