Tackling Organic Matter

Tackling Organic Matter

Soil management that improves soil function is more likely to yield better returns and improve farm resilience to challenging external influences such as increased input costs, weather extremes and efficiency demands.
Maintaining and improving soil organic carbon content is vital to sustain soil fertility. Organic matter improves nutrient retention, nutrient use efficiency and is a source of plant nutrients in addition to fuelling soil biology. Active biology will work to improve soil structure, assisting in better water infiltration, water holding capacity and rooting potential of crops.

The economic and physical value of organic matter- especially in the form of straw-based manure can be better realised in well managed soils.  In comparison to liquid digestates and slurries, high organic matter manures have an increased dry matter arising from the elevated carbon content which in turn offers more fuel to soil biology as a food source.

Organic materials in addition to valuable carbon, are often a source of major plant nutrients, Phosphate, Potash, Magnesium, Sulphur and Nitrogen, with many manures containing beneficial amounts of micronutrients.  Precise and measured application is required by regulation and assurance schemes and latest codes of practice should be observed.  Teagle spreading technology enables adjustable precise spreading rates and consistent ground coverage.

A typical fresh weight ton of FYM at 25% in comparison to a typical fresh weight ton of 6%DM cattle slurry provides 90% more total Phosphate, 115% more total Potash and over 100% more Magnesium and Sulphur in addition to the multiple benefits to the soil from the carbon within the organic matter. Nutrient release is sustained over a longer duration with FYM, as soil biology acts to enable the availability of the manure’s nutrients to plant roots. (RB209)
Nitrogen availability in organic manures varies, FYM has a higher carbon to Nitrogen ratio than slurry which is nearer to the optimal ratio for soil microbes to thrive enhancing the release of nutrients. The ammonia ratio of the total Nitrogen in FYM ranges from about 20-30% in comparison to 40-60% of the total N in slurry, ammonia N has greater potential for N losses.  

The bottom line remains, feed the soil life to feed the crop, don’t undervalue the return of carbon and organic matter to the soil, and the gains from precise and measured application. Pulverising bulky manures to aid soil contact improves efficacy especially when applying to grassland, less manure thatch will improve silage quality and grazing access, even nutrient distribution reduces crop lodging risk. You can rely on the Teagle beater system to process organic manures improving application, enhancing spread accuracy and consistency. 

Report by Emma Dennis. Agronomist at PROCAM
Portrait photo by Mark Jessey

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