FARMERS FRIDAY | A Natural Resource to Enrich the Earth
SafeRock is committed to creating an environmentally better future with their 100% natural resource!
SafeRock is at the forefront of agricultural sustainability in its efforts to provide a natural solution to the global crisis of soil degradation.
Their resource has been certified for use in organic agriculture as a mineral soil conditioner. The minerals are 100 per cent recoverable with nothing added or taken away in the process. The geological reports inform them that this unique blend of minerals originated from the ocean floor south of the Equator millions of years ago.
THE BENEFITS OF SAFEROCK
WITHOUT SAFEROCK and WITH SAFEROCK
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SOIL AMENDMENT AND A FERTILISER?
The purpose of soil amendments – or conditioners – and fertilisers are to help plant growth. However, did you know that they work in very different ways?
The contents and condition of the soil can strongly influence a plant by either limiting or increasing growth. By using either a soil amendment or a fertiliser, the soil can be altered to promote increased plant growth.
Let’s take a look at the differences between the two:
Although a soil amendment does not add concentrated nutrients to the soil, it improves the structure and texture of soil. The improvements made are increased air pockets and water flow, allowing the plant roots to grow further in search of nutrients in the soil. Some soil amendments, such as the soil conditioner SafeRock® Minerals (SRM), can also add micronutrients to the soil, which are not available from fertilisers.
A fertiliser is a concentrated amount of nutrient added to the soil. This is added to directly improve plant growth, however, it does not contribute to improvements in soil structure or health. Without a healthy soil, added fertiliser nutrients can more easily run off the soil as the soil cannot absorb the nutrients.
Other points to consider
Plants do not just absorb nutrients in the raw form. For plants to be able to absorb nutrients from the soil, microorganisms need to turn these nutrients into a usable form. Microorganisms will only be present in soil that has a friable texture and lots of moisture -this can be aided by soil conditioner.
SafeRock® Minerals is our soil conditioner, providing an essential range of micronutrients and trace elements, including sulphur, calcium and magnesium. Use of SRM improves water retention and water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy and clay soils.
To summarise, fertilisers have a direct effect on plant growth by improving the supply of nutrients in the soil. They act as a ‘quick boost’ of macronutrients for plants.
By contrast, soil amendments indirectly impact plant growth as they work to improve soil health instead, providing the micronutrients that plants need.
SAFEROCK® MINERALS: A CHEMICAL-FREE APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
In our latest post, we’ve taken a look at the risks of chemicals to soil health, and how farming with chemical fertilisers can be destructive to the environment, from crop production and animal health to food security and unsustainability.
What are the risks of using chemical fertilisers in soils?
Chemical fertilisers add nutrients to soil; however, they do not contribute to soil health. Chemical fertiliser can leach from the soil, which is a process where chemicals or minerals are drained away from the soil. This can be caused by irrigation and rainwater, potentially leading to the pollution of nearby water sources as the chemicals are drained out.
If the nitrogen in chemical fertiliser is drained out of the soil into water that accommodates fish, the fish could be poisoned from higher concentrations of nitrogen, potentially killing them. We have all seen news articles about algal blooms choking waterways and starving aquatic life of oxygen, all due to excess soluble phosphate chemical fertilisers leaching into our water courses.
Soil conditioners are not affected by leaching as they bind to soil particles and are much less soluble. This improves soil structure by increasing the amount of pore spaces within the soil, creating benefits such as improved water movement and root growth of the plant.
The dangers of over-fertilising soil with chemicals
It is a risk to over-fertilise soil with chemical fertiliser, and is something that needs to be carefully measured and managed. Over-fertilising with highly soluble chemical fertilisers can not only kill plants, but upset the entire natural balance of life within the soil. However, soil conditioners are slow-release nutrient sources as they are broken down by bacteria in the soil, therefore there is a reduced risk in over-fertilising a plant, and no risk of a build-up of toxic chemicals in the soil.
Over-fertilisation of nitrogen is also related to bacterial and fungal disease in plants. The risk of disease is therefore greater when using chemical fertiliser compared to a soil conditioner.
Chemical or artificial fertilisers only support the supply of major nutrients requires by a plant. This is typically nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, also known as NPK. However, plants require other nutrients to ensure reaching its optimum health. A soil containing an organic supplement like a soil conditioner is more likely to include all the essential nutrients and trace elements that a plant needs, and avoids soil micronutrient depletion that can occur with an over-reliance on NPK chemical fertilisers.
Benefits of using a natural soil conditioner
With many dangers associated with chemical fertilisers, as well as the fact that they are primarily made from non-renewable sources including fossil fuels, it’s clear that a natural soil conditioner is a much safer approach to sustainable agriculture. Not only will using the right soil conditioner help avoid soil degradation, it also stimulates increased microbial and earthworm activity which improves nutrient availability, soil aeration and drainage, and increases organic matter processing.
Our soil conditioner, SafeRock® Minerals, is a natural resource suitable for organic farming. From our extensive trials around the globe, results have shown that the nutrient efficiency of the soil has improved, as well as revealing an improvement in the quality and quantity of crops.
Ultimately, the future of farming requires a significant decrease in its dependence of chemical fertilisers. With minerals that are 100 per cent recoverable, SafeRock® Minerals is committed to working towards a sustainable future for agriculture.
Despite all our accomplishments we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact it rains.