Consider farm sulphur requirements this autumn
Autumn provides an opportunity for hill country sheep and beef farmers to provide the nutritional building blocks their pasture needs to maximise growth opportunities for spring and beyond.
“Hill country farmers have faced plenty of challenges over the last few years including drought in a number of regions and fluctuating returns,” says Altum Commercial Manager John Elliott.
“Farmers have tackled these challenges head on by reducing stock numbers, reducing input costs like fertiliser on parts of their farms and staying focused on a core set of priorities.”
In some cases the impact of those business choices can affect a farm’s productivity, which is always strongly linked to healthy and plentiful pasture.
Altum’s pHased S fertiliser was created specifically for hill country farmers and is designed to tackle the problems created by the challenging conditions of the last few years.
Introduced last year, pHased S enables farmers to apply fine elemental sulphur, lime to help maintain the soil pH, and SustaiN (protected nitrogen), in a single application.
Soil does not retain sulphur, which is vital for healthy pasture growth. Mr Elliott says that when sulphur hasn’t been applied in sulphur responsive areas, a reduction of between 700 kg and 1500 kg of dry matter per hectare each year has been recorded.
Most New Zealand pastures require sulphur. Elemental sulphur is not water soluble, which reduces the chance of it leaching from the soil. However, elemental sulphur is difficult to spread and cannot be applied by itself.
“Combining the sulphur with other nutrients in granular form was our solution to the problem. Farmers can have a targeted application that will provide nutrients to pasture quickly and accurately.
Lime was added to reduce declines seen in pH on hill country farms in New Zealand, especially in some areas where the cost of applying lime aerially can be high. The nitrogen will help ryegrass form new growing points to encourage improved pasture density which will generate more dry matter next spring.
“During drought periods, farmers step back from nitrogen applications as they reduce stock numbers, but that has implications when they want to get back into growth mode because there tends not to be enough mouths on hand to maintain pasture control through peak periods of growth.
“Our advice is to use autumn to set up for spring and pHased S should be considered as an option that addresses some very key challenges in supplying nutrients on to hill country in a cost effective manner,” says Mr Elliott.
Other elements such as phosphate can be blended to this granular product as required.
8 March 2012