Home' Grower : November 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- November 2011
By JOHN NORTON
BIOLOGICAL Farming is more about insight than
inputs. It is a knowledge-based approach where
the aim is to reduce inputs through smarter
farming and increased sustainability.
This often involves synergies where certain
combinations optimise outcomes and
knowledge of these can be the key to success
with this approach. In this article, I will highlight
• Arbuscular Mycorrhizal: Fungi and natural
phosphate: Mycorrhizal fungi and most crop
plants enjoy a symbiotic relationship of
tremendous benefit to both life forms. It
would seem a no-brainer that we should
nurture and protect a creature that improves
root function by 1000 per cent, but that is
unfortunately not the case.
AMF have been decimated in our soils
through a combination of acid fertilisers that
sizzle these fragile filaments, salt fertilisers that
dehydrate the fungi, fungicides that kill both
good and bad, faulty tillage practices, and
herbicides that can kill these beneficial fungi
more efficiently than they kill weeds.
AMF offer a host of benefits but perhaps the
best known of these relates to improved
Phosphate in the soil does not remain soluble
in soil solution like some minerals. Instead, it
tends to stay where it is put and this immobility
is further complicated by the fact that applied
phosphate tends to complex with positively
charged minerals (cations), such as calcium
and iron, forming an insoluble compound.
• Calcium and boron: Calcium is the most
important mineral in the soil, plant and
animal so it is critically important to get your
calcium nutrition right. Part of this process
involves an understanding of the importance
of the trace mineral, boron, in the equation.
Boron is to calcium, what sunlight is to plant
growth. It is the partner without which the
system struggles. It is common to see growers
disappointed in a lack of liming response who
could turn their frowns upside down with the
addition of a little boron.
• Precision nutrition, profitability: For the past
18 years, Bio-Tech Organics has offered
prescription blends based on soil test data
designed around the Albrecht agronomic
Farmers using this balanced approach have
been able to double and triple yields using
prescription blends over the years and it has
really confirmed the importance of mineral
balance backed by biology.
• Nitrogen and sulfur: Nitrate and ammonium
forms of nitrogen must be converted to
protein in the plant and sulfur is an essential
driver of this conversion.
In the case of nitrate nitrogen, sulfur is
required to fire the nitrate reductase enzyme
which initiates the conversion of nitrates to
protein. Sulfur is also needed to form protein
because two of the amino acids, cysteine and
methionine, are made from sulfur.
• Gypsum: It is often the most cost effective
way to build your sulfur levels but you can
also address nitrogen and sulfur together
with the use of ammonium sulfate. This
fertiliser can be stabilised with humates and
is the favoured nitrogen form in many
In some cases however, the overuse of
gypsum can have a negative effect, whereby
high sulphur levels can leach calcium ions from
the soil, particularly in soils which are extremely
low in calcium.
Details: Bio-Tech Organics 08 8380 8554 or John
Norton 0412 305 158.
Andre Leu says the
growth in the
markets for organic
increase and defy
Leu new president
THE chairman of the Organic Federation of
Australia Andre Leu has been elected president of
the International Federation of Organic Agriculture
IFOAM is the world umbrella group that unites
750 member organisations in 116 countries. It is
the only organisation that advocates for organic
agriculture at the international level.
Mr Leu was elected at the general assembly in
Korea during the 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress.
This event -- held every three years -- attracted
thousands of people from about 100 countries.
More than 250,000 people participated in the
numerous activities at the congress site.
Australians, including Jan Denham, chairman of
Australia's first organic certifier, NASAA, attended
the event. OFA deputy chairman Tim Marshall and
several other OFA members presented a range of
papers on organic systems Founding member Liz
Clay was a keynote speaker.
"It is an exciting time to be involved in the organic
sector as it is the fastest growing agricultural based
industry in the world," Mr Leu said.
"The growth in the markets for organic product
sales continues to increase and defy the global market
slowdown, but 160 countries collected certified
organic data in 2009 compared with 86 in 2000.
Details: Andre Leu 07 4098 7610, 0428 459 870
Glyphosate resistant annual ryegrass in a vineyard.
THE escalating battle
resistance in weeds is
moving to Australian vineyards,
stone and pome fruit blocks.
Official figures have recorded
21 vineyards with glyphosate-
resistant annual ryegrass popula-
tions in South Australia and
Western Australia. Five tree-crop
orchards in New South Wales and
South Australia have also con-
firmed resistant to glyphosate.
Broadacre agriculture has experi-
enced significant increases in weed
populations developing resistance
in the past few years, and vineyard
and fruit block managers are being
urged to act in response to the
Authorities say an over-
reliance on glyphosate for con-
trol of weeds under vines and
trees is pushing this explosion.
Glyphosate is easy-to-use and
relatively cost-effective so it is
the herbicide of first choice.
"No other herbicide has the
same characteristics or broad
weed control spectrum of
glyphosate and we need to look
after it," chairman of the
Sustainability Working Group
Chris Preston said.
"The other thing that growers
need to note is that there is
nothing coming down the
pipeline to replace glyphosate,
so they need to start thinking
about how they will operate
without it, if it comes to that."
Knockdown herbicide options
were limited with only
glyphosate, paraquat, glufosi-
nate and amitrole registered.
The loss of one of those
through herbicide resistance
would severely complicate weed
Associate Prof Preston says
glyphosate resistance is not a
certainty as long as growers are
proactive in weed management
and start to use a range of con-
trol practices before resistance
either develops or is introduced
onto their farms.
"Growers need to move past
denial and start mixing up their
weed control by combining her-
bicides with non-herbicide tech-
niques, such as cultivation or
mulching," he said. "Stopping
any sur vivors of the herbicide
application from setting seed is
the cornerstone of herbicide
Vineyard and fruit block man-
agers needed to be out in the
field looking for patches of
weeds that were not controlled
by the herbicide. Plants could
be sent away for testing to con-
firm whether glyphosate resist-
ance was the cause, however all
sur viving plants must be pre-
vented from setting seed.
In Australia, glyphosate resist-
ance has developed in annual
ryegrass, awnless barnyard grass,
liverseed grass, flaxleaf fleabane
and windmill grass. Worldwide
there are 22 species of weeds
with populations resistant to
What makes this issue even
more worrying for vineyard,
stone and pome fruit block man-
agers is that annual ryegrass in
South Australia has recently been
confirmed resistant to paraquat.
There are seven species with
paraquat resistance in Australia
and 19 species overseas.
"We now have one population
of ryegrass resistant to both
glyphosate and paraquat," Assoc
Prof Preston said. "This will
make weed control ver y difficult
Anyone suspecting glyphosate
resistant weeds should contact
their relevant state expert.
Details: Andrew Storrie 08 9842 3598,
0428 423 577,
Problems spreads to hort,
Nothing in pipeline to
Annual ryegrass in SA con-
firmed to paraquat
AT A GLANCE
as huge problem
800 003 244
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