Don’t We Live In A Crazy World

Written by Robert Plumb, Soil Fertility Services Ltd

Energy prices through the roof; inputs of fertilisers and chemicals at crazy prices; energy companies making seriously record making profits; Liz Truss – our own local MP, flying around the world with a big fat expense account and an expensive entourage to negotiate trade deals, at the expense of UK agriculture and now a War with Russia and consequences for Ukraine! Bear in mind when this was written – 1st week March 2022.

What is going to happen to your farming enterprises? The UK government would be happy for you to plant Trees or rewild – What a joke, maybe this European war will wake up our Government to back UK farmers to grow the food we need – as you are quite capable of doing.

For the past 70 years or so we have been hell bent on using chemicals and like any drug, we have become hooked on them. For a long time, 34% Ammonium Nitrate tracked the value of grain – roughly £20 tonne. In the last 10 years or so, it has drifted further apart due largely to increased demand from developing countries and increased application rates, as farmers chased yield. All good things come to an end. Apart from the damage to the environment, what about the damage to your soil and your pocket? Oh yes, we have seen increases in yield, but that is mostly due to plant breeding – the same with other crops. Yes, we are growing higher yields pretty much across the board, but not without cost and in many cases, nutritional content is lower.

With what is going on in Europe, there is not much hope for fertiliser and other chemicals to reduce in cost, rather you can expect to have problems getting product at any price. NOW then is the time to learn how to use the alternatives. So what is the alternative? Is organic not a valid choice? Not for everyone, but it is possible to grow good crops without using chemicals. Recently we have seen a move to another ‘alternative’ and that is the BIOLOGICAL OPTION. Soil Fertility Services have been promoting these concepts for 25 years and more; bear in mind we were the first people to have a soil profile pit at the Cereals Event as long ago as 1996.

SOIL is not DIRT. The difference is, there is LIFE in your soil – all sorts of life including a lot that you don’t want, but why don’t you want them? They are only a problem when they become dominant and then turn on your crops to live. Do bear in mind the years of poisons you have chucked on your soil and maybe, it is no wonder it is sick. Poisons can include N, P, K, and ALL other ‘fertilisers’ when they are applied in excess or out of balance with all other minerals. Even then they may be poisons to your ‘life in the soil’.

The first thing you need to do, is to learn how to talk to your soil; to read a comprehensive soil fertility audit and check compaction layer – what does it smell like, what is the earthworm count? Then you need to learn how to feed your soil and how your soil will feed your crop. For some 20 years we have been using Beneficial micro-organisms and we now have a stock of 25 different varieties that we can blend for specific purposes, including disease prevention and nutrition enhancement. These are Plant and Soil feeders and include specific products that can release so called “locked-up” minerals including Phosphate, Sulphate and Ammonium Nitrogen.

One of the keys to the success of this BIOLOGICAL PROGRAMME, is the food source that we produce to feed these micro-organisms. We call it V8; it is a mix produced from an organic equine Vermicompost that we use to extract all the minerals into a turbo charged biological stimulant. Because this is a natural product it is a complete food source with all essential trace elements with high levels of Humic and Fulvic compounds. On its own it is a low cost plant growth stimulant, when applied with a specific plant mineral required it can be highly effective. We do often get tarred with the label ‘snake oil’, well, it’s understandable, as we surely are ‘out of the box’ but science is always behind the innovators as many of you leading soil improvers and direct drillers will know. We work with specialist suppliers around the world and all our products are produced to the highest standards and used in human and animal health as probiotics; that is what they are – soil and plant probiotics. 

If we supply your soil with the correct blend of beneficial micro-organisms, we can out-compete the pathogens. These microbes tend to be the aerobic varieties; hence we need soils with good earthworm numbers. When you think the air that we breathe is 75% Nitrogen, if you have aerobic soil, you could have 240kg/ ha of potentially available Nitrogen, right there in your plant rooting zone. But how to make it available to your crops? We have a consortium of specific bacterium and fungi that can do that; they convert the elemental Nitrogen into an ammonium form that the plant can then convert to Nitrate.

There are two issues we have to be aware of: Firstly these microbes do not like the cold, hence they will not work early in the Spring when you actually would like them to – the soil temperature is too cold; secondly, these microbes have to join up with your plant when they will ‘feed’ your plant, but only if it needs feeding then. This means you cannot get excess Nitrogen in your crop; however, because we are using a consortium of micro-organisms, there are many other plant health benefits such as improved root structure – hence more uptake of other nutrients including Sulphate and Potassium! ‘Snake oil? No, just ‘out of the box’, the best thing you can do is to give us a call and have a chat.