Integrated Nutrient management is the process of managing the amount, source, timing, and method of nutrient application at an optimum level for sustaining the desired productivity through optimization of the benefits from all possible sources of organic, inorganic and biological components in an integrated manner while minimizing nutrient losses that could create environmental problems.
Integrated nutrient management is known as the “Four R”:
- Right amount – proper rate of application
- Right source – proper type of application
- Right placement – appropriate method for application
- Right timing – correct time of application in the lifecycle of the system
It includes developing nutrient budgets that consist of knowing the amounts of nutrients present in the soil, determining the amount of nutrients needed by the crop, accounting for all the potential sources of nutrients, and then applying manures, composts, irrigation water, organic or inorganic fertilizers to meet the nutrient need of the crop. Soil nutrient management is a Important component of sustainable agriculture because it provides growers with economic benefits to increase or maintain soil quality to reduce the potential for erosion while reducing the negative impacts on the environment that excess nutrient transport into surface water or nutrient leaching into groundwater.
Why use Nutrient Management?
The nutrients for growers to consider are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. An excessive application may lead to environmental degradation through the release of nutrients into the surrounding environment. Soil testing will reveal deficiencies of other nutrients and provide a grower information such as water holding capacity and pH of soil. Increasing soil organic matter is an important for improving soil health. The formation and decomposition of soil organic matter stores and releases energy and nutrients that, become available for plant uptake. In addition to nutrients, soil organic matter can improve soil texture, structure, and chemical balance. Integrating the inclusion of cover crops, compost, or manure into a management system are all methods for increasing soil organic matter and nutrient availability without relying on chemical fertilizers. Commercial fertilizers may be the most cost-effective and sustainable method for increasing soil health and managing nutrient uptake by crops.
How to Monitor the soil?
The best way to determine the nutrient content of the soil is by testing. Soils should be tested every 1-3 years based on the soil type and state requirements or recommendations. Soil tests usually report pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and micronutrients. All this information helps the farmer know how much lime and fertilizer is needed for a particular crop on a particular soil.
Although soil organic matter is an important indicator for soil quality, it is often not reported in a regular soil test report. Most laboratories can analyse soil organic matter or soil carbon. Asking for this analysis is helpful to determine if soil organic matter is increasing, decreasing or staying the same.
Managing nutrients with inorganic fertilisers is easy because nutrients can be blended in the concentrations needed for a particular crop. Nutrient management is difficult when organic fertilizers such as manures or composts are used because the nitrogen to phosphorus (N:P) concentrations in organic fertilizers tend to be around 1:1 which does not match the N:P need of most crops which is 4-6:1. When manures are regularly applied to meet the nitrogen needs of the crop, phosphorus is over-applied.
Composts can create similar conditions, when manures are used as a feedstock. Composting causes nitrogen concentrations in the organic material to decrease because some of the original nitrogen is lost as ammonia gas. Phosphorus is concentrated because the volume of the material decreases during composting and it does not have a gaseous from. Consequently, the N:P ratio in compost does not match plant requirements and phosphorus can be over-applied with regular use.
Elements of a Nutrient Management Plan
- To test the soil to determine the nutrient supplying power of the soil,
- To determine the amounts of nutrients needed to produce the desired yields,
- To account for nutrient inputs from other sources, such as legumes,
- To analyse manures, composts, and irrigation water to determine the nutrient content,
- To apply manures or composts based on the critical nutrient (nitrogen or phosphorus),
- To apply additional inorganic nutrients as needed,
- To keep records for evaluations and adjustments.
Our Integrated Nutrient Management Systems specialises on Balanced Nutrition and treating Soils as a Living environment. The three facets of soils, Chemical, Physical and Biological are all interrelated and interdependent. Soil Chemical Balance leads to desired Physical structure which then enhances the Oxygen loving Biology of the soil. The greater the diversity and degree of Biological activity, will improve soil Physical Structure, creating greater Soil Carbon levels, leading to increased Soil Moisture holding capacity and Mineralisation of Nutrients in an available form to crops and pasture.
Here at Integrated Nutrient Management Systems we provide the products that are Soil friendly, encouraging Soil table. Soil Fertility is not just about NPK; but all the Trace and Micro Minerals in Balanced form which the soil and plants require. Plant roots have a Symbiotic relationship with Soil Biology, thus feeding the soil rather than the plant and letting the Biology feed the crops and pastures, produces both healthy soils and crops and pastures and livestock.
Integrated Management Systems can be applied to all types of Agriculture.
A good starting point in Soil Management Systems is Soil Test with independent report and recommendations from a renowned Soil Scientist providing valuable information of your soils and a process of rejuvenating them.
We are here for all your Soil and Plant Nutrition needs and to help you enjoy farming again.