New peat research helps Waikato farmers

Peat Research

This project is fantastic, as it puts the focus on peat soils and helps to close the gaps in our knowledge. We have a lot still to learn in order to help farmers get the best out of their peat soil management.

April 5, 2016

New peat research helps Waikato farmers

Learnings from a $490,000 farmer-led research project working to improve peat soil management in the Waikato region are already being shared with local farmers as the project progresses.

The three-year project is a collaboration between Waikato farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Sustainable Farming Fund, AgResearch, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Landcare Research, DairyNZ and the Waikato Regional Council.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Key Accounts Representative for the Waikato region, Aaron Pemberton, praises the project and the value it will bring to the region’s peat farmers. Aaron presented Ballance’s findings on soil classification at a field-day on peat soil management this week in Orini Downs, organised by the project group.

“This project is fantastic, as it puts the focus on peat soils and helps to close the gaps in our knowledge. We have a lot still to learn in order to help farmers get the best out of their peat soil management.”

The Waikato region contains half of New Zealand’s peatlands, with approximately 94,000 hectares containing nearly 2.7 billion cubic metres of peat. Peat is a difficult soil type for farmers to manage, due to high organic matter, low nutrient levels and water table fluctuations.

“There are also varying levels of understanding of the different peat soil types across the Waikato region, and not everyone is aware just how these differences affect fertiliser requirements,” says Aaron.

“It’s important to understand the type of peat you’re working with and how nutrients react in that particular soil.”

The peat soil classifications were shared by Aaron at the field-day in Orini Downs.

“In simplified terms, when interpreting peat soil tests, anion storage capacity is a key factor,” describes Aaron. “It indicates how developed the peat is and how much phosphate fertiliser is needed to improve production.”

Other field-day presentation topics included nitrogen responses in peat soils, effluent management, and farmer innovation.

Aaron says that through partnering with other leaders in soil management the aim is to develop a best practice for farmers, which allows them to achieve maximum returns from their peat soil in the most efficient way possible. “In doing this research our long term goal is to improve sustainable nutrient management in the region. And that will have benefits not only for local farmers but also the surrounding environment and wider community.”

Contacts
Michelle Riley, Communications Manager, Ballance Agri-Nutrients
Phone: 07 572 7887 or 027 487 9656
Email: mriley@ballance.co.nz

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