Field Notes, powered by KPMG, is a weekly news update on news nationally and globally from the agri-food sector.
Graeme Harris, Rangitata Arable Farmer reports that do-it-yourself nitrogen tests are both a money saver and also allow him to monitor his nutrient leaching. Mr Harris reports that a test kit costs around $200, which will save him money as it will last a few years, with 100 test strips in the kit. If Mr Harris gets a consultant or fertiliser company to complete his testing it costs him $50 each time and reports that although it can be daunting to begin with, it is worth it in the long run. Research has been ongoing over the last three years by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) seeing how the Quick Test nitrogen strips perform in New Zealand soils and farming systems. FAR's Farm System Research Manager Diana Mathers reported that in 14 of 18 trials conducted, farmers reduced the amount of fertiliser they applied to their farms without it resulting in a loss in yield. The more farmers know about the nitrogen in their soil, the better they can manage it. The test requires farmers to collect soil samples and add them to a solution before dipping a test strip into the mixture, and the resulting colour can be checked against a guide which explains how much nitrate is needed for a particular crop.
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