Many in New Zealand have experienced drought this past summer. Drought is frequently responsible for reduced plant growth and both roots and aerial plant parts may be impacted.

Ensuring that plants bounce back strongly following a climate event like a drought is very important but often easier said than done. Obviously water is key but sometimes that is out of our control. I am going to focus on the things we can do to enhance this process.

Manage Grazing

Your soils are absolutely crucial to the ongoing productivity of the farm. Heavy grazing by stock can leave the soil vulnerable to wind or water erosion. Organic matter and top soil are lost first, substantially reducing soil fertility and structure. It is important to not overgraze a paddock until all protection (dead and alive) is removed from the soil. Select paddocks for drought feeding that have a soil type and topography that will be less liable to erosion, these areas should be rotated so that excessive damage does not occur in any one area. Where damage is unavoidable, a sacrificial area may minimise restoration works after the drought. A poor weedy paddock can become a sacrificial paddock. This treatment can sometimes eliminate the weed problem.

Check Soil Fertility

Soil testing is important as there still might be a lot of fertiliser in the ground that wasn’t utilised the past season due to the drought and a lack of production. This will make sure you aren’t over fertilising and wasting money. From your soil tests you should get a good picture and fertilise appropriately.  

Weed Control

Weeds can shade and compete with pastures, reducing production. Check pastures regularly and implement management strategies to control weeds which could involve grazing, topping and herbicides.  

Enhance soil activity

Soils like plants suffer from drought stress and need to be considered in implementing a drought recovery plan. It is important to stimulate soil life and natural biological activity. Enhanced biological activity will stimulate root development and improve the absorption efficiency of roots and restore soil physical conditions.

Recycling Dead Matter and Soil Nutrients

During a drought a significant amount of plant residue becomes dead matter and in areas of heavy grazing/stocking there will also be a significant build-up of manure.  It is important that this dead matter is broken down and recycled into the soil as it provides food for the soil microbes and nutrients for the living plants.

How EM Can Help

It is well known and researched that the beneficial microorganisms in EM stimulate plant growth and enhance resistance to disease and abiotic stresses. This includes helping to make plants stronger and better equipped to stand up to drought stress. But EM can also aid significantly in drought recovery and speed up soil and plant recovery. By inoculating your soil and crops with EM you introduce billions of beneficial microbes which stimulate biological activity, breakdown organic matter, utilise fertiliser and nutrients in the soil and boost plant health and vitality. The continued use of EM will also help to lower the impact drought and other climatic stresses will have on you soil and crops in the future. For more information please contact us.