Ballance moves to science specialisation

Published: Wed 22 Oct 2014 11:55 AM
Ballance moves to science specialisation
With New Zealand farming systems as diverse as farmers themselves, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Science Extension team is making the shift to specialist roles to better support the changing requirements of farmers working with different climates, topography, soil types and farm types.
Science Extension Manager Ian Tarbotton says knowledge about soils, fertiliser, forages and nutrient budgets is fundamental to support farmers in reaching their goals, and the demand for more specialised knowledge is growing rapidly.
“We have two driving factors. First, higher environmental demands mean farmers are now working within tighter controls around nutrient management and protecting water quality. There is no one simple solution for each farm and it is not just a case of managing fertiliser. Feeding regimes, stocking rates, stock movements and soil types all have an influence and they will vary from farm to farm.
“Second, the science behind farming expands every year and farmers want to stay ahead to stay productive. If they are going to invest both time and money to bring hill country into production or put some of their land into cropping, they want to be confident about getting it right first time.”
Ian says that as nutrient experts, Science Extension plays an important role in ensuring that the Ballance field team is well-equipped with the knowledge that they require to be able to provide customers with the best advice on managing their nutrients effectively.
“Moving to specialisation within Science Extension will allow the team to further develop and growth their knowledge in specific areas, ultimately providing farmers with a greater level of expert support.”
The nine-strong team provides expert advice on:
· Soil formation and classification
· Nutrient budgeting, loss mitigation and regional N-loss factors
· Hill country development
· AgInformation systems, spatial mapping and decision support tools
· Soil fertility including trace elements and macro-nutrients
· Crop establishment, management, pests and diseases
· Animal nutrition including supplementary feeding and the nutrient implications of different systems
· Microbiology
Ian says farmers are fast adopters of good, science-backed farm practices when they are confident these practices will suit their farm management systems.
“Every farm is different and what works for the guy down the road may not always be the best solution on another property. Our goal is to take out the guess work, understand a farmer’s problems or goals and bring the science through the farm gate that will work for them.”

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