Farms are complex systems

The silver bullet illusion

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The unfortunate truth is that there are no silver bullets in farming. The agro-ecosystem is way too complex, with far too many interactions, to have a simple, single solution to challenges.

Soil food web series: Nematodes, the good and the bad

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A lot more attention has focused on plant parasitic nematodes rather than the beneficial free living nematodes in the soil. Intensive research needs to be conducted so as to better understand the role played by free living nematodes especially in the mineralisation of soil nutrients.

Are you managing rainwater like a waste product?

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Rain is always welcome on our lands. It is our responsibility as good water stewards to use it as the valuable resource which it is

Soil food web series: Bacteria, the little nitrogen factory

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bacteria are one of the most abundant and widely studied microorganisms in soil. Microbiologists estimate that one teaspoon of soil can contain up to as many as 1-100 million individual bacteria and a hectare can contain up to 10 billion.

Soil food web series: Does your soil have Wi Fi(ngus) connection?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The role of fungi is unparalleled in soil health. It is one of the most important groups of micro-organisms in the decomposition cycle and is probably one of the most resilient too.

Irrigation

How can you ensure water is not being wasted?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sometimes I wonder if we actually realise the extent to which water management influences the entire farm system? From the health of the soil, to pasture growth and production, to milk production, to holistic farm efficiency and profitability.

Listen to your weeds

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Soil is truly amazing. If it is struggling to remedy itself, it will show you. Weeds are a symptom of conditions deteriorating soil health and resultantly, pasture health

Soil respiration

Soil respiration: A relevant measure or just a nice idea?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Soil respiration has been extensively promoted as a simple, holistic measure of microbial activity in the soil. Simply capture and measure the amount of carbon dioxide produced by soil and you will have an idea of the metabolic activity of the life in the soil.

See your farm as a system

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Nutrients are brought into the farm through the farm gate, and nutrients are removed through the farm gate. The question that needs to be asked is, are there more nutrients brought into, or removed from the farm system?

Soil life

Soil health indicators: Active carbon, total carbon and porosity case study

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Active carbon is the part of soil organic matter that is readily available as an energy source for soil life. It is a very good indicator of soil health, responding much faster to changes in management practices than most other indicators.