There is a secret to managing the looming risk of soaring Phosphorus and it is right under your feet!
Unlocking the phosphorous reserves in your soil may be an option for many farmers facing the burden of soaring fertiliser and phosphorus prices, and it isn’t too late to begin the process for the 2022 cropping season.
With farmers being encouraged to lock in DAP (double applied phosphorous) and MAP (mono-ammonium phosphate) for $1400 a tonne exiting Melbourne, a future in the oldest profession on the planet seem daunting. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom, and for those prepared to work with Mother Nature there are exciting times ahead.
In the latest Biological Farming Roundtable podcast, sponsored by NutriSoil, Nakala Maddock speaks to agroecologist David Hardwick form Soil Land Food and Soil Health Mentor Luke Harrington from Re-Gen Farming how to unlock the phosphorous reserves in your soil.
The first step in the process is to conduct a soil test to determine the total and the available levels of phosphorous in the soil, so you know the amounts potentially available to your plant.
Farmers have three really important tools they can use to start improving soil health and function, these will enable biology to start nutrient cycling and make phosphorous among other nutrients more available to plants. These tools are optimising plant roots systems, increasing biological diversity and improving grazing management.
While improving grazing management may need to be addressed over the longer-term (if steps need to be taken to improve fencing and access to water), helping develop better root systems and increasing biological diversity is something which can be started straight away.
With the great spring rain (too much for some!) it isn’t too late to consider putting in a multispecies cover crop, which may include plants like buckwheat along with some pulses and legumes that can help release phosphorus into the soil making it available for the next crop. Companion cropping is also an option to help create available phosphorous for plants.
At sowing time, a seed inoculatant such as NutriSoil will encourage root growth, as will a foliar application NutriSoil; which stimulates photosynthesis and as a result expands root growth. Increasing or optimising root growth will allow the plant to have greater contact with the biology in the soil and exchange nutrients with the plant.
Activating soil biology and improving soil health are essential ingredients to nutrient cycling and ensuring more nutrients are available for healthy plant growth. Once biology is fully active and cycling the available nutrients in the soil, farmers can start reducing their dependence on synthetic fertilisers, in turn reducing their exposure to price fluctuations.
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.
Photo Credit: Rob Hetherington from Western Australia – buckwheat crop which was used to increase diversity and help activate biology to cycle nutrients for this season’s barley crop
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