January 10, 2007 at 5:55 am #239001SpriteMember
I had a soil analysis done when first purchasing our property a year ago, whch showed it was deficient in copper, zinc and boron. The Ca/Mg ratio was surprisingly ok, so that meant applying lime instead of dolomite to start raising the pH. The pH was a horrible 4.8 across most of the property, and the soils poorly structured and very well draining, so I figured it would be ok to put out lime in 2 batches 6 months apart at a rate of 1t/acre per application. I also put out zeolite (a hydroxy-al silicate) also at 1t/acre which acts as a chemical “buffer” and traps those elements and trace minerals that start to again become available in the soil as the pH rises. The trapping is chemically in such a way that the trace elements are in a form readily available to plants.
I then put out certified organic chook manure at the rate of 1 tonne per acre and the property has picked up very well, even in the midst of such a terrible drought. It is now sustaining 7 horses on 18 acres together with innumerable rabbits and I haven’t had to hand feed at all to keep the condition on them.
Its pretty pointless doing any remineralisation until your pH is above 5.8. If it is below 5.8 all the elements that you apply (via rock dust or chitter or whatever) immediately dissolve into sulphates and drain directly through the soil profile and into your local waterway. Its simply not economic to put out trace minerals until you have some way of keeping them in the soil in a form immediately accessible to your pasture and plants. My pH is now around 5.2 so I have a way to go yet, probably another full 12 months, until I can start using rock dusts.
Hope this is usefulJanuary 10, 2007 at 8:05 pm #286049baringaparkMember
We used SWEP for our soil analysis. It was around $120. We had a copy sent to Pat Coleby and then phoned her. She told us to apply lime and gypsum (can’t remember the rates). We will have another one done soon to see how we are going and then ring her again. We are still quite deficient here with our animals showing signs of copper shortfalls. I give them the lick in any feed they have and put out containers with seaweed and dolomite. The seaweed is always all gone. Yesterday I also put out sulphur and blow me down if they didn’t go crazy for that too!! I put the copper in the water troughs and certain animals seek it out. They have access to a non-copper one too.
We will continue to follow Pat’s advice as her system fits in with our own philosophies on nutrition. I have my 6 year old daughter on the seaweed at the moment, so have brought the system indoors now as well!!January 10, 2007 at 9:16 pm #286050SpriteMember
I’m an environmental scientist so soil analysis and land management are part of what I do for a living
I spread it with the help of a friendly super spreading contractor with a couple of really big spreader trucks.
Forgot to add a note about cost. Costs were:
60 tonnes lime @ $47/tonne delivered
20 tonnes zeolite @ $167/tonne delivered
60 cubic metres (about 22 tonne) chook manure @ $20/tonne delivered
Full nutitional soil analysis was done through Elders @ $110 per sample (I did composite samples) but I wouldn’t use them again as the agronomist was hopeless and knew less about soils than I did!!
Its interesting that in far flung country areas the agronomy services you receive are second to none, and the companies (Wesfarmers, Elders etc) knock themselves out to be helpful. The closer you get to a large city, the crappier the service, so now I never use them for consulting work (they only want to sell me NPK fertiliser which I firmly disagree with using, fair enuff I suppose, Monsanto and Incitec pay their wages indirectly). If I don’t know the answer to a technical question I do my own research, failing that I ring a few professional friends.
cheersJanuary 10, 2007 at 11:12 pm #286051
Hi Ree and everyone else,
I too have read Pat’s book which much enthusiasm. Im suprised that more people dont spend a little extra money and rebalance the minerals in their soils. Increasing fertility via compost, green manures etc is only part of the answer.
I plan to get my soils tested using SWEP as they provide independent soil analysis. Its pretty cheap and I think its a good investment even if you live on a 1/4 acre block like I do.
I cant remember if Pat mentions this but do you need to dig the minerals in after application, or can you just apply them on top of the grass and water them in?? Could I sheet mulch over the top and build a no dig garden?
Hope your having a great day everyone!January 10, 2007 at 11:13 pm #286052
Ohh… here’s a link for SWEP. That have lots of information posted on their site that Pat mentions in her book:January 10, 2007 at 11:37 pm #286053
Where do you get seaweed from? 😮 Can you buy it or do you have to pick it off the beach 🙂January 11, 2007 at 2:50 pm #286054
Very interesting topic.
Sprite please feel free to talk at will about improving soils. I’m sure everyone can learn something new about soil improvement beyond a bag of Chook Poo or NPK in cost effective ways.
My property is mostly river-flats of deep (2.5 metres) well drained loam and opposing deep (1 metre) black poorly drained almost clay-like soil. I haven’t done any soil fertility or structural improvement yet with additives but I intend to.
I’ve read Pat Coleby’s “Healthy Land for Healthy Cattle”, a valuable source of info. I’m always looking for worthwhile reading on this topic. Recently I’ve been re-reading about the black soils [wikipedia]Terra preta[/wikipedia] of the Amazon River Basin and a host of other interesting websites on soil improvement techniques.
Over the past few years I’ve been occupied with weeds and using them to my advantage to improve the soil before their demise. Some of the weeds were toxic to livestock and others noxious so they had to go – eventually. By slashing the paddocks, regularly enough, preventing weeds from setting seed but allowing grasses to seed (grasses come to seed much faster than most weeds) has allowed the once dairy pastures to make something of a comeback. Many weed’s root systems penetrate deeper into the soil than most grasses. By cutting (with slasher) the tops off the weeds and the grasses, part of the root systems die-off (root pruning) and regenerate when the plants re-grow improving the soil with humus from decaying roots. Repeating this over several years does wonders to improve the soil and regenerating pasture. It is also a soil carbon dioxide sink. I’ve taken care of most of the undesirable weeds with a backpack sprayer and very little herbicide cost. Now my bovine are mostly taking care of the remaining weeds by preventing seed-set.
These subtropical, coastal soils are leached of necessary minerals my cattle need. I’m taking care of this temporarily with “Superior Mineral Supplement”.
The next step will be soil analysis, additives and perennial pasture and legume re-seeding for most of the paddocks where couch has taken over – that were used for crops.January 11, 2007 at 9:29 pm #286055baringaparkMember
I purchased my seaweed from Vitec…VERY expensive. A friend of mine had $800 worth delivered from King Island. He says this will last him $10 years. I am going to purchase 100kgs from him which should last a while. If you are lucky enough to live near the sea you could probably harvest your own kelp, so long as you are not in a National Park.January 11, 2007 at 10:27 pm #286056
I wonder how different washed-up seagrass would be than kelp? We have a free supply on the riverfront.January 11, 2007 at 10:50 pm #286057njhMember
Seagrass harvesting is killing dugongs and other marine life.January 11, 2007 at 11:13 pm #286058
Seagrass harvesting is killing dugongs and other marine life.
I wasn’t aware seagrass is being harvested from Dugong habitat. Where is that happening?January 11, 2007 at 11:15 pm #286059January 11, 2007 at 11:33 pm #286060
Was hoping you had something other than a google search of dugong+seagrass!
What I meant but didn’t say was, is there any live seagrass harvesting going on in Australia and in Dugong habitat? I’m not aware of it, because I’m sure it would be illegal.
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