In the Land of droughts and flooding rains, “It never rains it pours”!
Certainly in farming just as in nature we must adapt.
N AND S!
What is happening?
In wet years like this the capacity of the soil to meet the nutritional demands of the plants drawing from it is challenged. Nitrogen and sulphur deficiency symptoms are now commonplace especially in waterlogged areas. For grain and grass production it is likely to be a high yielding but low protein season unless adequate nutrition is maintained.
Why is it so?
A number of factors… Nitrogen and sulphur are both essential nutrients for protein formation in plants. Both N and S (N itrogen and S ulphur) will leach ( wash downwards through the soil ) during high rainfall. If you have deep rooted plants especially deep rooted perennial grasses then some of the leached nutrients can be recovered. Nitrogen is also prone to denitrification during waterlogging ( where the soil is saturated so that all the pore spaces that would normally be full of air – are full of water).
What to do?
Ideally your soil is in a healthy enough condition that it remains spongy with plenty of unsaturated pore spaces to maintain the aerobic functions of your soil microbiology. This way the nitrogen fixing and sulphur mineralising microbes can continue their important work. Ideally also you will have maintained your soil fertility so that N and S is not depleted and there is an adequate amount of nutrient to maintain plant nutrition. Failing this, and where symptoms like yellowing of plant leaves is showing up, then you will probably need to supplement N and S if you want to ensure healthy productive growth of your crop / pasture.
When applying fertiliser you need to get a number of things right. Contact Julian at Fertile Farm for further advice about how to maintain soil fertility and plant nutrition.