Two of the prominent aspects of sustainability are long-term profitability and environmental protection. Limiting chemical nitrogen fertiliser use to only what is very necessary contributes to both of these aspects.
Excessive use of chemical nitrogen fertiliser has a negative effect on soil life and soil structure. Yet there still seems to be a trend of farmers wanting, or feeling the need, to apply excessive chemical nitrogen fertiliser to pastures.
Grass is abundant in the world, and is able to be grown sustainably for milk production. Pasture-fed cows are very efficiently converting a potentially useless form of nutrients into valuable food for people.
One of the challenges for farmers with regards to soil life is knowing whether the practices they are implementing are positively contributing to healthy soils, which are conducive to soil organisms flourishing. To this end we have been measuring various indicators of life in the soil.
Carbon footprints are an important tool providing insight on the environmental impact of an entity, but this case study is focussed on the role that a carbon footprint analyses can play in providing feedback to farmers on their farm productivity.
There is often a gap between what is known and what is practiced. It is called the knowing-doing gap and I think this gap is especially prevalent in agriculture.
The Woodlands Dairy soil lab analyses are used as soil sustainability indicators that form a part of the SWAN sustainable system.
Life contains energy, and all life requires energy to function. Energy is found, and needed, in various forms. In soil, the greatest source of energy is in the form of organic matter and carbon therein.
Here is an example of how improved soil life and good soil structure can unlock unavailable nitrogen into a form that is readily available for pasture uptake. You can possibly reduce your nitrogen fertiliser costs.
As a farmer, he said, he sees the soil life on his farm as another ‘herd’ which he has to provide for, especially with regards to food. If he looks after his soil life ‘herd’, then they will look after the soil and ensure that it is healthy.