More efficient fertilization is one of the greatest challenges for the future of both arable and livestock farming, especially with the currently increasing political pressure on the present fertilization policy. Smarter use of existing means and a different approach to soil and soil health will give arable and livestock farmers a handle to optimise their fertilization methods. “We must ensure that the soil and soil life will benefit from our fertilization methods,” said Ate Ludwig, N-xt Fertilizers’ general director, on our Dealers Day.
Around thirty attendees listened to various presentations focusing on the theme ‘The importance of soil health’. Marco van Gurp, N-xt Fertilizers’ commercial director: “In the market you still too often note a reluctance to change things under the motto ‘this is the way we’ve always done things’. But promising technological developments and improvements in existing liquid fertilizers enable us to adopt a better approach to our soil. And that’s what we need to do, because our soil is where everything begins. Only if our soil and its soil life are in good condition can we optimise our yields, supply crops of better quality and respond more efficiently to market demands.”
Good soil fertility essential
But the problem is that there’s an awful lot wrong with our soil. “The quality of arable land is under great pressure all over the world,” said Derk van Balen of the Dutch Applied Plant Research institute PPO. “Partly because of erosion, but also because the soil’s organic matter content is decreasing. FAO data moreover show that urbanisation is causing millions of hectares of arable to disappear every year. That of course implies tremendous pressure, because it is forcing us to produce more food in a smaller acreage. And that underlines the great importance of good soil fertility.”
Zooming in on the Netherlands, Van Balen sees problems too. “The structure of our soil is under pressure for example because we are harvesting our crops later and later. That leaves fewer opportunities for green manure crops. And because of constant expansion the machines we use are getting larger and larger. When they drive across the land they form deep ruts and destroy the soil’s structure.” So how can we keep our soil healthy? For an answer to that question Van Balen explicitly refers to organic matter. And to ploughing without turning the soil, because that leads to less decomposition of organic matter. Van Balen also believes that the use of liquid fertilizers will boost our soil’s fertility.
“We need to adopt a new approach to our soil,” said Mark van Iersel of Van Iersel Compost and Soil-Tech Solutions. “Our soil must be properly balanced to be able to meet our expectations.” Soil analyses will tell you what you need to know about deficiencies in your soil and the ratios of the various nutrients contained in it. “You will then understand what corrective measures you can take. A properly balanced soil is a soil containing a wide diversity of useful soil life and optimum quantities of all the necessary nutrients in the right ratios. Such a soil will have a good structure, good hydrological conditions and good capillary action,” said Van Iersel.
Cooperation in the market
Menno Thomas of N-xt Fertilizers underlined the importance of closer cooperation in the market. “Cooperation is the basis for growth. We can adjust our products to meet the market’s demands by joining forces and combining our individual expertise. We are going to further optimise the new products we are currently working on in crop trials at our own Sinderhoeve farm. But we are also very interested in your views and experiences. So please share them with us.”