July 18, 2018

For the Smallest Of Things you need to be accurate

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How accurate do you have to be?

Even though soil science can be viewed as a science, can it truly quantify how soil “works?” How practically useful are the discoveries of soil science?

A soil science experiment was done where a tree was planted in a tub of soil.

The soil in the tub was analysed very accurately before the tree was planted. The weights of soil and nutrient were calculated down to the microgram.

The tree was left to grow and only water was added. When the time frame of the trial was completed the whole tree was burnt. The ash was analysed for mineral content, the gas from the burning was measured and the soil weighed and retested.

And guess what? There was a lot more nutrient than when the trial started.

That’s not surprising given that trees breathe in Carbon Dioxide and trees are made of Carbon.
96% of the composition of a plant is carbon, oxygen and hydrogen all of which tree takes from the atmosphere. Only 4% is taken up from the soil.

The question really is, what does the tree need to allow it to grow and photosynthesise to its potential?

For any form of agriculture the 4% of the energy that comes from the soil is as vital to the plants wellbeing as the 96% that comes from the atmosphere. For that 4% to be obtainable many other factors such as water, air and the living part of the soil needs to be in good shape..

To give an example of how such a small quantity of material can change the outcome of your farming operation.

We ran into an iodine deficiency. The very first symptom was that we had around 75% male calves and the calving was more spread out than usual.

Another symptom showed when the cows all crowded into the corner of the paddock with their backs to the rain in cooler showery weather.

Both are caused by a lack of iodine. Iodine deficiency impacts on the thyroid gland that regulates body temperature causing extreme reactions to cold weather.

It is not until the second month of a pregnancy that the sex is determined. A female fetus requires significantly more available iodine than the male fetus(they require zinc) so more males will be created in that iodine deficient environment.

Our herbage tests showed significant iodine deficiency. After more investigation we applied 40 grams of Iodine per hectare. The herbage levels doubled in a very short period of time.

And all the symptoms went away and the following year our female to male calves became balanced again with a normal calving spread. Cost; $2.40 a hectare.

This was a situation where soil science did not have the answer. In farming there are many significant issues that need attending to and you have to be incredibly accurate.
So if you want so help for a free 45 minute session call Ewan accurate Campbell

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EcoFarm Aotearoa operate Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm NZ time . To contact Ewan or his team please feel free to email: info@ecofarmaotearoa.com.

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