There’s no ifs and buts, our own health is only as good as the soil from which our food is grown.

A carbon rich soil alive with beneficial life will always produce more food of higher quality than that from a low carbon compacted one.

Soil is a living breathing organism, and it its ideal state contains 25% air and 25% moisture.  Due to the vagaries of ever-changing weather and farming practises the ideal is seldom achieved, however it remains the perfect scenario.

Over time soils weather, with the parent material initially rock, slowly being broken down to release nutrient that allows plant life to emerge.  Organic matter develops and plant growth steadily increases.

However, some nutrient is lost via leaching and the mineral content of ground water is influenced by the soil through which rainwater steadily percolates.

Over time that lost from soil due to natural weathering must be replaced if the quality of the feed grown is to retain its value.

Agricultural practises of cultivation, intensive grazing, and the addition primarily of nitrogen has increased the rate at which the soil mineral content has been lost.

There are numerous studies showing a marked decline in the mineral content of vegetables over the last 50 years linking that to some of the ill-health issues that afflict people today.

One of the solutions is the remineralising of the soil through the addition of agricultural lime, and where soils are deficient in magnesium an annual application of dolomite.

There is only one dolomite deposit in the country, at Golden Bay.  It’s a large deposit and the nibbling away that is required to meet the country’s magnesium requirements is largely inconsequential, particularly with the ongoing replanting programme in place.

Dairy farming has a high requirement for magnesium as all lactating animals have increased demand for calcium which must be balanced with magnesium if excellent health and performance is to be attained.

Because it was originally a seabed deposit laid down over millions of years GB dolomite contains a wide range of trace elements, and over time where soil magnesium levels are maintained with its addition, the status of other essential elements is enhanced.

The benefit of this is a marked improvement in animal health and performance particularly over late winter and spring.  Grasses to which dolomite is applied annually usually contain between 0.22 and 0.25% magnesium.

Animals well-fed on pasture with that magnesium content receive sufficient magnesium for the maintenance of high levels of milk production, whether they be lactating ewes, beef or dairy cows.

The recurring message from dolomite clients over the last thirty years has been, “no cows down behind the hedge at 5.30 this morning” and that in itself changes the complexion of cold wet spring days.

Any time is an appropriate time to apply 250kg/ha of dolomite.  Due to the fineness of grinding there is sufficient magnesium available for plant levels to change, often within a fortnight of it being spread.

Because dolomite is sometimes referred to as dolomite lime there are those that mistakenly believe it should not be applied during winter and spring.

Animal metabolic disorders in spring are seldom a straight magnesium or calcium deficiency.  It is nearly always an imbalance of the two and dolomite lifts plant magnesium levels but not those of calcium.

If there is a concern about low levels of magnesium in the diet due to a lack of direct sunlight a bin of dolomite available to animals in the paddock, or at least as they enter or leave the shed provides further insurance.

Made available in this way, without the addition of molasses or any other feed, allows animals to self-medicate.  By also having a bin of lime flour available the calcium and magnesium requirements of individual animals can be met.

One of the objections to dolomite has been its cost.  Given the increased price of imported magnesium products that argument is no longer valid, and dolomite has the added benefit of always being available.

For more information call Peter on 0800 436 566 (0800 4DOLOMITE)

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