I recently attended a meeting where Dr Tom Sheahan spoke on the importance of methane and nitrous oxide.

In essence the message was that both are irrelevant greenhouse gases, atmospheric CO2 has little effect on climate warming, and there is no climate emergency.

If science is incontrovertible fact, how is that there are two completely opposing points of view?  Having grown up with ‘science’ at the forefront of everything we learnt and believed in, my experience is that scientists seldom agree.

I’ve therefore always been skeptical of an argument that is claimed to be supported by over 90% of scientists but been prepared to accept that the thesis contained useful and relevant information.

Models are currently being developed around CO2, nitrous oxide, methane emissions as well as the loss of nitrate to groundwater. However, if they contain at their base wrong data the conclusions will be false and standards formulated unenforceable.

Knowing that science in this space is far from settled we need to accept that fixed figure standards won’t work and there needs to be a concerted effort by politicians and councils to work together firstly to ensure farming survives and thrives.

Farmers accept that no-one has a right to make a mess, and when there are alternative technologies and management practices they will comply with necessary changes.

Learning from experience is essential and there is in this country information from both past and present scientists that should be taken seriously.

Tom Walker, Professor Emeritus at Lincoln, was held in great esteem by his professional colleagues and the students that attended his lectures over many years.

He championed Golden Bay Dolomite as the most effective magnesium fertiliser available at the time.

Although other magnesium fertilisers have entered the market, an annual application of dolomite direct to pasture remains the most effective way of minimising calcium/magnesium related metabolic disorders in dairy and beef cows.

When fresh clean drinking water has magnesium chloride and/or sulphate mixed with it, it becomes bitter encouraging animals to drink from puddles, negating the intended benefit.

Magnesium oxide dusting is somewhat hit and miss depending on wind at the time of application and rainfall soon after.  Its application requires the use of protective clothing to ensure the health of the applicator.

Dolomite is completely safe and there are many that take dolomite in tablet form regularly to ensure optimum health.

Although the mine at Golden Bay, the only dolomite deposit in the country, is above ground it was originally a seabed deposit and therefore contains a wide range of essential trace elements.

Magnesium deficiency symptoms in cows in spring are seldom if ever a single element issue.  Calcium and magnesium are always linked and the ratio of the two elements in dolomite is one of the reasons for its unique effectiveness.

Because dolomite varies in cost in different parts of the country due to cartage every farmer will have to make their own calculation.  Add the value of cow, it’s production for the season and the cost of applying dolomite at 250kg/ha makes it probably the best value animal health investment available.

Think also about the time when cows are down behind hedges at 5 in the morning.  It coincides with a wet miserable southerly wind drenching staff and those attempting to revive the animal.

Time is money and the frustration of trying to decide whether to treat immediately or wait till after milking is one that can be largely eliminated with a single phone call.

For more information, call 0800 436 566 (0800 4Dolomite).


Peter Burton July 2023

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