Home' Smart Farmer : February 2012 Contents February 2012
E are what we eat and
what we eat comes from
the soil. If our food-pro-
ducing soils are minerally depleted,
biologically inactive and chemically
contaminated, then so is our food.
Unfortunately, the tale of extrac-
tive agriculture during the past few
decades involves all three of these
limiting factors and our food has
suffered as a result.
There have been several studies
that have highlighted this decline. In
fact, there are nutritionists claiming
the food we consume has just 30 per
cent of the nutrition found in the
food consumed by our grandparents
when they were children.
This dramatic decline is not solely
related to a decline in soil fertility, it
is also linked to food processing,
preparation and transport.
But the soil is a major player.
Conventional acid-salt fertilisers
seemed like a good idea at the time.
There seemed no longer a need for
the high maintenance, soil restora-
tive practices of the past, when you
could just throw on some nutrition
from a bag each season.
However, 'easy' is not necessarily
best and, in this case, the new
approach proved unsustainable.
Soil condition directly linked to
Fruit and vegetable quality is similarly
dependent upon soil fertility. The first
step toward a more natural approach
is a positive one to producing healthy
THE central driving force behind the entire
biological/organic farming approach relates to the
critically important relationship between human and soil
health. JOHN NORTON says chemistry, physics and
biology in balance produce the food we require for
Humble earthworms, humus 'eaten' by acid salt fertilisers
Snail biocontrol trial results fast-track weapon for growers
ENCOURAGING results from southern
field trials of a new biological agent to
combat snails in grain crops have
researchers on track for development
of a commercial control.
Recent Grains Research and
Development Corporation-funded field
trials of the nematode-based control on
South Australia's Yorke Peninsula,
where snails are a major pest, have
been declared a success, enabling sci-
entists to progress with more refined
field trials to be conducted this year in
SA and Victoria.
The Victorian trials will also target
slugs which were a significant problem
in that state's cropping regions during
the 2011 growing season.
Conducted by Charles Sturt
University with collaboration from
SARDI, the field trials in September-
October last year involved one combi-
nation of a native nematode and a
Gavin Ash, from the CSU's EH
Graham Centre, said the biocontrol was
applied in high and low rates against
conical and round snails and was com-
pared with application of metaldehyde-
based baits. The trial involved 16
replicated plots each of 100 square
Prof Ash said the biocontrol was just
as effective as the metaldehyde bait
when applied in high levels, and
offered a reasonable level of control at
the low rate.
While the impact was more signifi-
cant on conical snails than round
snails, Prof Ash said that result was
applicable to both the biocontrol and
"We are not sure why that occurred
in the field - unlike the laboratory - but
weather conditions may have been a
factor," he said.
"But given that these were the first
large field trials that we had conducted
and that they only involved just one
nematode/bacteria combination - we
have a total of five different isolates in
production - we are very heartened
that we achieved a reasonable kill
Prof Ash and his team are now
preparing for a series of field trials this
coming autumn which will involve a
"We will be looking to exclude the
snails from the paddocks being cropped
by applying a barrier of nematodes
around the perimeter of paddocks using
a protein-based foam formulation simi-
lar to that used in fire fighting," he
"We are working with an organisa-
tion in the United States to prepare the
foam formulation that will offer protec-
tion for the nematodes."
• Need to know more?
Bash'Em, Burn'Em, Bait'Em:
Integrated snail management
in crops and pastures,
available from GRDC's
Ground Cover Direct.
www.grdc.com.au or free
phone 1800 11 00 44 or
Prof Gavin Ash is
optimistic about the
Up to 90%1 of phosphate (P) fertiliser can be tied up in the
soil. JumpStart® can help.
The active ingredients in JumpStart are the result of research discoveries
between Agriculture and Agri Food Canada, and Australia's Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The ingredients are
mixed strains of the naturally occurring soil fungus Penicillium bilaii. It grows
along the plant roots, releasing the "bound" mineral forms of less available
soil and fertiliser phosphate, making phosphate more available to your crop.
Farmers have proven that using JumpStart results in 6% higher yield. Use
JumpStart and maximise your yields.
Treat your wheat seed with JumpStart.
Australia Pty Ltd. is a joint
the GRDC and
More facts and figures at:
www.bioag.novozymes.com | 1800 178 263
Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers
across a broad array of industries we create tomorrow's industrial
biosolutions, improving our customers' business, and the use of our planet's
resources. Read more at www.novozymes.com.
Smart farmers read the fine print. 1"The efficiency of fertiliser P use by crops ranges from 10 to 30% in the year that it is applied. The remaining 70 to 90% becomes
part of the soil P pool which is released to the crop over the following months and years." Better Crops/Vol. 86 (2002, No. 4), International Plant Nutrition Institute. 2An
average 6% yield advantage in phosphate responsive sites -- 17 farmer-applied split-paddock trials (2008-2009). ® JumpStart is a registered trademark of Novozymes A/S.
All rights reserved. © 2010 Novozymes. 10015 03.10 LUNA 2010-05428-01
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