Increasing Organic Matter and Biology in Pastoral Systems – Targeted Biological Inputs
Targeted Biological Inputs
This is the final article in a series of posts about how to increase organic matter and biology in pastoral systems. This is a very important topic and one that can have huge implications on a farming system. The posts have focussed on the following topics:
- Diverse Pastures
- Sabbatical Fallows
- Targeted Biological Inputs
5. Targeted Biological Inputs
Bio-fertilisers are microbes loaded on a substrate; They contain one or more species of microorganisms. There has been a lot of development work done on Bio-fertilisers in India, (15 yrs ago a report claimed 100 companies producing more than 100,000 tonnes production ( Li and Zhang 2000). These claim to reduce the need for fertiliser.
Other products that add biology are Biological fertilisers; these are becoming more readily available in NZ. These claim to stimulate biology as well as adding biology.
Compost teas also generate microbial populations.
Formulated brews are combinations of microbes designed to perform certain task and add value to soil and pasture performance. The product we produce, EM, is a formulated product with a diverse range of microbes.
What do Microbes Do?
A common question is what do microorganisms do?
There is not a short answer to this; however a key activity is the breakdown of organic matter, there are many other activities, one such is the production of what are called, plant growth regulators- PGR. These compounds are hormones, and have an important role in plant growth.
The microbial species listed here in this table, are all present in EM, and have all been shown to produce various PGR’s as published.
Other important functions we know EM will do are:
- Enhancing fertiliser inputs
- Improve soil health and performance
- Fixing atmospheric nitrogen
- Recycling soil nutrients
- Breaking down fertiliser compounds
- Improving root structures
- Reducing compaction issues
Diversity, in all things is very important. Ideally create an environment, that encourages an abundant and diverse microbial ecosystem. This begins with trees, riparian areas, wetlands, and diverse pastures. Manage the farm to maximise organic matter production that returns to the soil. We would also recommend strategic use of microbial inputs, particularly on degraded sites. Introduce the use of microbe friendly fertilisers and biological fertilisers, these will continue to gain acceptance as more research results come to hand, to support soil health and performance and speed up the biological performance on your farm.