One option stands out | Functional Fertiliser

One option stands out

Farmers and growers are spoilt for choice when it comes to fertiliser products. Most
rely on the advice of their local farmer co-op representative.

Many ask around and run with the latest flavour of the month and our experience from
over thirty years in the industry is that spreader drivers have a significant influence on
what gets applied.

Fertiliser is usually the second largest expense, after mortgage repayments, and
deserves special attention.

The large farmer owned co-ops are unashamedly superphosphate manufacturers and
their other two ‘bread and butter’ products are muriate of potash and urea.

Where they have less expertise is in highly effective products that historically haven’t
met the lowest cost per kilogram of nutrient models.

Magnesium is the one close to our hearts and dolomite has been the only magnesium
product we’ve recommended and has always delivered the benefits promised.

Although most soils contain sufficient magnesium to meet plant requirements animals
can often benefit from extra.

Dairy cows close to calving require higher than normal magnesium intake to avoid
debilitating, costly, and frustrating metabolic disorders.

Even when there are few animals that require individual attention there is nearly always
a production response from dolomite applied in autumn.

Consultants and fertiliser industry folk have always agreed that dolomite delivers
outstanding animal health benefits however have dismissed its widespread use
because of its higher cost per kg of magnesium.

That is now not the case. Dolomite particularly in the Canterbury region provides
magnesium at a significantly lower price than magnesium oxide products.

A single application in autumn provides excellent protection, for animals fully fed on the
pasture to which it has been applied, throughout winter and spring.

The requirement for extra magnesium via in-line dispensers is markedly reduced and
often eventually eliminated.

Unlike more soluble products dolomite does not leach releasing magnesium for plant
uptake steadily over a twelve-month period.

Levels in pasture plants to which dolomite has been applied are typically between
0.22% and O.25%, sufficient to meet daily requirements.

Emeritus Professor of Soil Science Tom Walker wrote in his article, Dolomite a first
class source of magnesium, “….If my diet were deficient….I would rather correct it
by daily increments….”

Adding magnesium products to water systems via in-line dispensers may result in water
becoming sufficiently bitter that animals drink from puddles and other untreated
sources.

The late Vaughan Jones developed the first in-line dispenser to provide low levels of
copper, selenium, and cobalt, to animals on mineral deficient peat land in the Waikato.

He never envisaged that they would be used to dispense a cocktail of minerals at high
rates.

Animals perform best when there is a constant supply of clean fresh drinking water and
water troughs require cleaning regularly to ensure performance is maximised.

Magnesium deficiencies in spring are seldom, if ever, solely a lack of magnesium.
Calcium is always involved as prior to calving extra magnesium is necessary to help
release calcium from the frame of the animal.

After calving the demand is primarily calcium, and dairy cows, as well as other lactating
animals, have an inbuilt sense of what is required.

Having a bin(s) of dolomite and lime flour available to stock at all times is an excellent
start to understanding the change that takes place around calving time.

In situations where this has been implemented good observers talk about a sudden
shift in demand for lime flour after calving.

Shifting from a daily drenching/ in-line dispenser regime to a free access one should be
done over a period of time ensuring an uninterrupted supply of dry dolomite and lime
flour.

Under pinning the success of this supplementation programme starts with an
autumn/winter application of dolomite at a rate of 220kg/ha (or DoloZest at 350kg/ha )
which supplies 25kg of magnesium per hectare.

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