In regenerative agriculture we like to have a healthy soil. The soil is alive with billions of Bacteria, Fungi, Protozoa, Nematodes, Arthropoda. All these organisms play a role in increasing soil organic matter, recycling/unlocking nutrients and increasing soil resilience. To improve the biodiversity of soil organisms, it is important to maximise soil cover and minimise soil disturbance.
To help our pastures to increase biodiversity and be rich in nutrients, liquid seaweed and fish hydrolysate have been sprayed. To make sure the soil can absorb it, it has been sprayed when the ground is moist in the morning.
The liquid seaweed and fish will stimulate the organic life of the soil, increasing dry matter and nutrients levels in the pasture. This will help roots and shoots development of plants. Boosting the organic life in the soil helps release the locked-up nutrients from the soil, allowing the plants to feed naturally, contrary to chemical fertilisers. This boost of nutrition stimulates the roots to release more sugars. These sugars in turn stimulate adjacent organisms that in turn increase the release of nutrients available for the plants from the organic and mineral fractions of the soil. All this increase of activity and increase in organic matter also help balance the pH around the roots of the plants, increase the structure of the soil, letting more air in and improve soil water retention.
We do not use chemical as it forces plants to grow and interfere with other nutrients, depleting the soil and weakening the organic life, and also increasing chance of leaching nutrients in the waterways. This contributes to compaction, low biodiversity, a soil with no resilience and pollution of the waterways.
The liquid seaweed and fish have been diluted and agitated in a 100 L tank and boom sprayed with a brass nozzle to avoid blockage. The 100 L tank is fitted with a 12v pump that connects to the tractor’s battery. This has been easy to use, except when one of the wire got stuck in a branch and all the wires started to melt! Never mind, a little bit of new wires, fuse and some soldering… and all came good. The 100 L tank is just enough to spray 2 paddocks, as our paddocks are around 0.2 ha for ease of management of strip grazing and rotational grazing.
For a good out come, the paddocks should be sprayed in autumn and spring a couple of times. The results will not be seen straight away as restoration of soil biology takes time. Only 12 paddocks have been sprayed, 3 will not be sprayed as they are around our waterways and will serve as a control, and the 7 other paddocks will be sprayed with compost tea. We will talk about compost tea in another post. Hopefully, in a few years, we will see a difference between the seaweed/fish, compost tea and control paddocks!