Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Soil testing vital in Northland silt battle


Silt deposits from the Northland floods have left some parts of the region looking like a desert. ​Flood waters have dumped a layer of silt across much of Northland, hampering efforts to protect and prepare paddocks for regrassing.

For farmer Graham Beatty, flood-waters have receded on his 350-hectare dairy farm, between Dargaville and Whangarei, and left behind fine brown silt:

My house looks over the flats and it's like looking onto the Aussie outback, it's just so brown. It's fine silt, but it sticks to the grass, dries on and kills it.

Any flood recovery plan should start with soil testing. The make-up of silt deposits and nutrient content in flooded pastures can vary widely. You need to know exactly what you are dealing with as you plan for successful regrassing, or work to patch up moderate damage. Collect larger soil samples than normal, as much of the sample will consist of flood water/debris.

Tackling regrassing on a flood-damaged pasture requires careful planning and consideration. There are several variables to consider:

  • How long pastures were underwater.
  • How deep the silt deposits are.
  • How well-grazed a paddock was before the flood.

It is important to wait until flood waters recede, and the ground dries before tackling damaged pastures, as compacting saturated soils could do more harm than good.

As a farmer-owned co-operative, we’re mindful of the stress that those affected will be under to get their soils producing again. Our Agri Managers have expertise, access to product specialists and leading research, to help you bounce back from this event.

To assist Northland farmers, we have provided a comprehensive flood recovery package, including discounted prices on seeds, fertiliser, agrochemicals and nutrition. We have also made a $20,000 donation to aid those affected by the floods. Working with Dairy NZ, your local team will be attending flood relief meetings across the region this week.

Talk to your Ravensdown Agri Manager about the flood recovery package, or call our Customer Centre on 0800 100 123.