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Living things need Nitrogen (N) to make amino acids. These amino acids link to form proteins, which helps build plant and animal tissue. Plants also use nitrogen to make chlorophyll – which they need to convert sunlight to energy. Nitrogen promotes leafy, vegetative plant growth and, when used correctly, is an effective tool for multiplying growth.
Nitrogen (as nitrate) is very soluble and prone to leaching from animal urine patches. In addition high levels of fertiliser application (>200kg N/ha/year) can indirectly contribute to this because there can be more N in the urine or more animals are fed i.e. higher stocking rate due to N use.
With that in mind, we recommend using moderate rates of N to promote growth at strategic times (spring, summer and autumn) to increase grass on hand, but not during winter due to the leaching potential.
Nitrogen is also vulnerable to volatilisation (loss to air) if not applied within the correct conditions. This is where SustaiN can help, as any volatilisation losses are halved compared to standard Urea.
Pumice soil is also a volcanic soil, but dominated by pumice or pumice sand.
This soil drains very freely, but is incapable of storing large amounts of water for plants. It is easy for plant roots to grow and they stand up well to animals, unless the soil has been recently cultivated. The population of earthworms is often limited due to the naturally low fertility, water holding capacity and low organic matter environment.
On a fertility front pumice soil is very low in natural fertility, which includes being low in magnesium, phosphate and deficient in micronutrients such as cobalt, essential for animal growth. It is also prone to leaching sulphur in the plant available form and potassium, requiring multiple seasonal applications of both of these nutrients.
Sedimentary soil is formed from the weathering of sedimentary parent material such as greywacke and schist. There are two common types:
Brown soil, is generally well-drained with good soil structure, formed in moderate to high rainfall areas. Brown soils will have good organic matter content due to the higher rainfall environment with soil depth varying from shallow to deep.
Pallic soil, is typically poorly-drained often due to under lying dense subsoil horizons in low to moderate rainfall areas. Pallic soils are more prone to soil structural damage from over cultivation and stock treading damage.
On a fertility front these soils generally have a low to medium nutrient content and respond well to the addition of key macro nutrients. Sulphur tends to be a limiting factor - they need regular sulphur fertiliser to optimise production. They have lower anion storage capacity (ASC), too. Brown soil is in the 30-50% ASC range, while Pallic soil is around 15-30% ASC. This means less phosphate is required to raise available levels (Olsen P) and conversely, Olsen P levels will drop more quickly if phosphate application is stopped. These soils can have moderate to high potassium reserves, meaning little or no potassium is required, although reserves are often depleted over time. Soil Testing will help indicate what subsequent potassium inputs are required. They can also be deficient in molybdenum.
Only in isolated pockets throughout NZ