Nutri-Tech Solutions (NTS) has specialised in cost-effective solutions for the large scale (broadacre) farming sector and our research and product development in this arena has really paid dividends since we began expanding into Asia. It turns out that what works for cereals, legumes and brassicas also works for rice. We have found that our efforts to create the “biggest bang for the buck” for Australian broadacre growers, is truly appreciated and embraced in rice-producing countries like India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
During my recent seminar tour of North America, we found that Canadian cash croppers are also reporting impressive benefits from these inexpensive programs. This experience in multiple locations has enabled us to fine tune and field test concepts and products, to the point that we can now offer an exciting, three-step program for the upcoming Australian planting season.
Three Steps to Success
The new NTS Broadacre Program involves reformulations of previously successful products, the fine tuning of previous proven strategies, and some exciting new inclusions. It initially involves a seed treatment regime that includes biology, soil-life stimulants and key minerals, to improve germination and kick-start the seedling. Secondly, we look at stabilising, buffering and magnifying your granular starter fertilisers. The third step involves timely foliar boosts comprised of powerful plant growth promoters, chelating agents and key minerals.
Step 1 – Mother’s Milk Makes for Superior Start
Mother’s milk is indisputably the best way to nurture a new baby. It contains a suite of potent compounds and enzymes not found in formula. These substances include lauric acid, a remarkably protective fatty acid only found in this super supportive magic from Mum. The nuzzling on nipples also introduces hugely important beneficial bacteria to an otherwise sterile digestive tract. This introduced workforce serves to stimulate digestion and protect from disease.
When your seed is treated with a comprehensive suite of nutrients and supportive substances and nurtured with microorganisms that will remain protective throughout the crop cycle, you have provided a “mother’s milk” equivalent. You have effectively set up your crop with a superior start that inevitably results in better yields and reduced problems.
Seed-Start™ is the first half of this starter strategy. This is a complex seed treatment that has proven productive in many of the 55 countries in which we work. During the past six months we have been researching, re-working and trialling variations on this successful formula, to see if there was any room for improvement. We are excited to announce that our research team have developed a formula variation that outperforms the original.
This new Seed-Start™ formula features the following:
- It contains a broad spectrum of minerals.
- The new formula offers a root zone rush of all-important calcium for both the emerging root and the microbe workforce. There are several sources of calcium in the new Seed-Start™.
- Sulfur is included in several forms to provide a protein push that is particularly beneficial for legumes.
- Four different forms of kelp improve germination while fostering root and shoot growth and encouraging beneficial biology.
The improved formula is applied at higher rates than the original formula, but the cost per hectare will remain around $2 (AUD).
If you have not yet tried a good seed treatment, this is the time to discover the potential. There are very few practices that can offer more response from such a small investment. The application rate for the new Seed-Start™ formula is 8 litres per tonne of cereal seed.
The second half of the “mother’s milk” strategy involves the introduction of mycorrhizal fungi (Nutri-Life Platform® from NTS) to the seed. These fungi are missing in 90% of Australian soils and their reintroduction can offer profound benefits. Mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) burrow into the emerging root and create a network of fine hyphal strands in the soil, which serve as a massive expansion of the original root. When this biological root extension is complete, there is a tenfold (1000%) increase in root surface area. This network of filaments can seek out immobile minerals like zinc and phosphorus, and the associated acidic exudates can break the bond between locked-up phosphorus and calcium in your soil, delivering both of these key minerals to your crop.
Mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) also produce a suite of beneficial biochemicals to nurture their host. Some of these kill root knot nematodes and others stimulate plant immunity. However, the most important gift delivered by this synergist is an exudate called glomalin. This carbon-based substance was only discovered in 1996, and we now know that it is a major triggering mechanism for the building of humus in the soil. In fact, 30% of all soil humus comes from this one organism, so it is of serious concern that 90% of these creatures have been decimated with the extractive, chemical model.
The new, improved Nutri-Life Platform® blend from NTS focuses upon the four main strains of mycorrhizal fungi responsible for the creation of glomalin. These include Glomus intraradices, Glomus etunicatum, Glomus aggregatum and Glomus mosseae. However, there are also some exciting new additions to this proven root zone workforce, including species of Azospirillum, some beneficial Bacillus and Pseudomonas species, and Streptomyces cellulosae. We have also retained the multi-function workhorse, Trichoderma, in the new formulation.
Step 2 – Magnifying and Stabilising Your Starters
The second step in this three-step program involves the inclusion of NTS Soluble Humate Granules™ with your granular starter fertilisers. These super concentrated 2 – 4 mm crystalline granules serve to complex (stabilise) your phosphorus fertilisers, in order to prevent them from locking up. The humate granules can also seriously magnify the uptake of phosphorus. Humic acid creates a cell-sensitising response, where the cell membrane becomes more permeable. Research has revealed that this 33% increase in nutrient uptake can seriously boost fertiliser performance.
Humic acid is the most powerful known stimulant of beneficial fungi, including AMF, and this dense carbon additive also serves to buffer the burning effect of DAP/MAP. Unbuffered phosphoric acid is a root cause of the loss of mycorrhizal fungi, as it sizzles these fragile tag-ons, like putting a blowtorch to human hair.
The exciting thing about the inclusion of 5 kg/ha of NTS Soluble Humate Granules™ with your DAP/MAP, is that it can be essentially free-of-charge. We have found that you can neutralise the cost of this additive by simply reducing your fertiliser to the value of the humate additive (around $14 (AUD) per hectare). This benefit relates to the 33% increased uptake associated with the use of humates.
Note: This replacement concept is only relevant if you are using a minimum of 80 kg per hectare of DAP/MAP. Otherwise, the $14 reduction (22 kg) may be too large to counterbalance with the 33% improved uptake.
Step 3 – The Foliar Punch
Foliar fertilising is twelve times more effective than root delivery and it is a super-productive, but often neglected, strategy in broadacre. Timing is critical here. We have found that an early foliar at the five-leaf stage (or during tillering in cereals) can be successfully followed up with a spray immediately before flowering. However, it is the additives included in these respective sprays that deliver the knockout foliar punch. NTS Stimulate™ is a concentrated combination of NTS Fulvic Acid Powder™ and Tri-Kelp™, our popular, three-in-one soluble kelp powder. It is applied at around 250 – 300 grams per hectare in both of these foliars.
NTS Stimulate™ is also a plant growth promotant, and the cream on the cake in this foliar formula is a substance called triacontanol. This fascinating compound improves every aspect of photosynthesis, including chlorophyll density, stomatal opening and CO2 utilisation. It can also boost brix levels. Triacontanol is included in both foliars at just 50 mL per hectare, at a cost of less than $3 (AUD) per hectare.
The five-leaf foliar must be a standalone, because triacontanol is incompatible with sulfates and nitrates.
However, we can include one important mineral with the pre-flower foliar, which also includes 250 grams of NTS Stimulate™ and 50 mL of triacontanol (Nutri-Stim Triacontanol™ from NTS).
Here, we want to see an inclusion of 500 g – 1 kg of Solubor (a soluble sodium borate) per hectare. Boron is super-productive at this time in the crop cycle. The fruit-to-flower ratio, the efficiency of pollination and the filling of seed heads is all determined by boron at this time. We have found that the vast majority of crops reveal boron deficiency on leaf tests when monitored before flowering. Solubor is compatible with triacontanol.
A productive, third foliar during the season might include zinc, manganese and copper.
Zinc is notoriously deficient in broadacre soils and this mineral can be foliar sprayed at a rate of 1 kg of zinc sulfate per hectare (chelated with a little fulvic acid). Zinc governs leaf size and it can be of great benefit to boost the size of your ‘solar panel’ in the early stages. If your copper levels are marginal (as they usually are in broadacre), then you might include 500 grams of copper sulfate with this zinc foliar application. 250 grams of NTS Fulvic Acid Powder™ could be included with both minerals to chelate them while magnifying their uptake.
The copper addition becomes essential if you are using glyphosate, because this harsh herbicide further limits the uptake of copper. Copper is the mineral of most importance for fungal protection within the plant. The proven link between glyphosate and increased disease pressure is partially linked to the shutdown of protective copper.
Unfortunately, manganese uptake is similarly impacted with glyphosate, so again, it is a good strategy to compensate with a foliar. 1 kg of manganese sulfate per hectare could be included with the early season spray of copper and zinc.
During my recent visit to Canada, I witnessed the power of this simple combination of NTS Stimulate™ and triacontanol. Joe Wecker farms 10,000 acres in Saskatchewan and he specialises in seed production and mixed cash cropping. Joe was impressed with his results using this simple, inexpensive foliar combination. On a 1000-acre pea crop, he yielded twice the state average and did not require the three fungicides needed by most pea growers last season. When you lift brix levels with NTS Stimulate™ and triacontanol, there are more exudates poured into the soil and the grateful microbes deliver abundance.
In Summary: The NTS Broadacre Program
(with costings in AUD)
- Treat your seed with Seed-Start™ at 8 L per tonne, at a total cost of around $2 per hectare.
- Combine new, improved Nutri-Life Platform® (mycorrhizal blend) at 1 – 1.6 kg/tonne seed, with the Seed-Start™ application, at a cost of around $5 per hectare.
- Combine NTS Soluble Humate Granules™ with your DAP/MAP at a rate of 5 kg per hectare. If your DAP application exceeds 80 kg per hectare, there is effectively no cost for this additive, as you can safely reduce your fertiliser inputs by $14 per hectare to cover this cost.
- At the five-leaf/tillering stage, foliar spray 250 – 300 g of NTS Stimulate™ per hectare with 50 mL of Nutri-Stim Triacontanol™.
- Just before flowering, foliar spray 250 – 300 g of NTS Stimulate™ per hectare with 50 mL of Nutri-Stim Triacontanol™.
- Include Solubor at 500 g – 1 kg per hectare.
Foliar costs – the cost of the core ingredients (NTS Stimulate™ and Nutri-Stim Triacontanol™) is less than $10 per hectare, per spray.
I promise you that you will be impressed if you trial the NTS Broadacre Program this season. The total cost of this program is less than $30 (AUD) per hectare. We have had amazing feedback from across the globe and I would love to see our local farmers benefit. I wish you all the very best broadacre season.
Disclaimer: All prices listed above are in AUD. Prices are current at the time of publication and are subject to change.