Home' Grower : May 2010 Contents The South Australian Grower -- May 2010
Kangaroo Flat potato and onion grower Sid
Ridenti has achieved a significant increase in
yields since using biological fertilisers.
halts profit dive
FERTILISERS continue to place an
increasingly large dent in grower profit
margins because prices keep rising.
While fertiliser prices are on the up, unfortu-
nately crop yields do not always follow, mean-
ing a growing percentage of the farm budget
is spent on fertilisers for no rise crop returns.
Like many growers, Sid and Joe Ridenti
were finding that rising costs left them
str uggling to make ends meet.
The brothers grow potatoes and onions on
the Gawler River and at Kangaroo Flat,
north of Virginia. Potatoes were grown
using a nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
regime, with ammonium nitrate forming the
basis of their fertilisation system.
Under this regime, the Ridentis' crops
across their 52 hectares of potatoes were aver-
aging about 25 tonnes/ha. In 2003, their
total potato har vest amassed just 1180t.
In 2004, the brothers took a different path
with their potato crop, using a mixed biolog-
ical chemical regime -- with surprising results.
Potato yields more than doubled, with a total
of 2600t har vested off their 52ha. Chemical
fungicides and pest sprays were reduced, with
only one application used -- compared to five
sprays of each under the previous system.
The reduction in spray applications helped
the Ridentis reduce their production costs
for the 2004 season by $100,000.
Onion yields have also improved in recent
yields with the introduction of biological pre-
scription blends into their fertiliser system.
Previous yields ranged from about 69t/ha up to
a peak of 87t/ha. Since the Ridentis began using
biological prescriptions, yields have increased by
between 15 and 25t/ha -- with brown onions
now averaging more than 100t/ha.
The quality of onions har vested has also
improved since the biological products were
introduced, with this improvement opening up
white onion export markets including Dubai.
The overall reduction in cost of produc-
tion, coupled with the yield and quality
increase have allowed the Ridentis to erect a
new production shed and packing plant to
better deal with their larger onion crops.
Bio-Humate FF50 from Bio-Tech Organics
has formed the base for the Ridentis' biological
approach, with the product made from a blend
of natural, concentrated brown coal compost,
stabilised humus and natural selected inputs.
It contains around 400 kilograms of
humus per ton or material, making it an
ideal source of organic carbon. In addition
to this, Bio-Humate FF50 is high in humic
and fulvic acids, contains many species of
beneficial fungi and other microorganisms
that help improve soil conditions.
The addition of Bio-Humates to the soil
can increase nutrient retention, improve
long-term aeration in clay soils and help
ameliorate salinity in irrigation areas.
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