Beneath every long term successful business is a foundation, something that regardless of the inevitable ups and downs ensures not only survival but prosperity.

Underpinning the dairy industry is the steadily increasing demand for protein in the form of milk, cheese, and other highly nutritious protein products derived from pasture.  It’s a strong industry and with competent management at all levels a rosy future is guaranteed.

The sheep and beef industry relies largely on the demand for grass fed meat, and we produce unique products that savvy overseas purchasers are prepared to pay a premium for.

The qualities of wool cannot be replicated and the cost of producing other fibres with inferior performance steadily increases and still prices paid for wool continue to languish.  The price received is largely dependent on our ability to sell its less obvious benefits to prospective customers so there’s still some distance to go before its true value is realised.

Beneath all of this lies the true foundation of New Zealand’s pastoral farming, a benign climate, clean water, and soil.  There’s little in the short term that can be done to influence the climate, and with clean water largely dependent on what we apply to our soils,  the top few centimetres of this country is the aspect we can most immediately influence.

Dr Graham Sparling, our most internationally recognised and acclaimed soil scientist, in 2004 stated that, “It’s a sobering thought that our entire high tech world is ultimately supported by life in the top 20 cm of the soil.”

It follows that the healthiest soils produce not only the most but the highest quality.  The proposition that growing less increases quality simply doesn’t wash; those growing the most pasture also produce the highest quality.

There is a group of farmers whose production doesn’t fit current models and for this growing number of elite farmers fertiliser nitrogen when used is applied sparingly and strategically, however a product common to nearly all where magnesium is required is the application of dolomite.

Farmers applying dolomite seldom treat animals for calcium/magnesium related metabolic disorders, and because all health issues are linked their overall animal ill health costs are low, often very low.  Production both per animal and hectare is also significantly higher than district average.

Dolomite, a naturally occurring rock, contains 11.5% magnesium and 24% calcium and it is this ratio that is at the heart of the often extraordinary improvement in both animal and soil health, with the real value assessed from its performance, the purpose for which it is applied.

The dollar cost of cows requiring veterinary treatment in spring is easily calculated, as is the value of a calf saved.  Production increases are less easily figured however the value is just as real.

Dolomite contains both calcium and magnesium in the form of carbonate.  The release rate is the same for both ensuring that pasture over winter contains between 0.22 and 0.25% magnesium and close to 0.60% calcium.

Animals fully fed on pasture containing these levels seamlessly make the transition from pre calving where magnesium is essential to post calving when extra calcium is required.

A single annual application of Golden Bay dolomite at 200kg/ha provides 23kg/ha of magnesium, a sound maintenance rate for intensive dairy, and a similar rate once every second year to intensive sheep and beef breeding enterprises provides outstanding cover.

For more information call Peter on 0800 436 566.

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