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Published: 2008-07-15 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is inviting farmers to a free workshop that could save them hundreds of dollars on fertiliser costs every year.

The workshop will discuss results from trials that have proven healthy maize crops can be grown in effluent blocks without any commercial fertiliser.

The trials, involving Environment Waikato, the Foundation for Arable Research, DairyNZ, Pioneer and Crop and Food Research, have also shown maize crops can improve environmental performance by mining nutrients from high fertility soils.

Farmers involved with the trials will be at the workshop at Gails of Tamahere at 1pm, July 24. 

“This is a workshop not to miss,” Environment Waikato chair Peter Buckley said.

“As the price of fertiliser continues to rise, it’s more important than ever to look at ways of using nutrients more efficiently.  You can save money and improve your environmental performance by using effluent and this workshop will show you how.”

Spreading dairy effluent on paddocks is an environmentally friendly way to dispose of it, because plants and soil organisms naturally use nutrients that would otherwise leach into waterways and cause algal growth and other issues.

But there can be problems if you apply more nutrient-rich effluent than pasture can use.  Accumulated soil nitrogen can leach and harm the environment, while high potassium can lead to animal health issues.

Planting maize on effluent blocks is a great way to manage excess nutrients and save on fertiliser.

“This technique is already being used successfully overseas,” Cr Buckley said.

“But we wanted to test it here in local soils to put some hard science around it for Waikato farmers.  Preliminary results are exciting – farmers who have trialed it in Matamata, Orini, Ohaupo and Ngahape saved hundreds of dollars per hectare in fertiliser costs.”

Cr Buckley said many farmers had always put fertiliser on their maize crop as a kind of “insurance policy”.

“They haven’t wanted to change because they’ve felt it’s too risky.  But we’ve now got the results to prove it can be done.  Come along to the workshop and find out how.”

For more information please contact Mike Parker at the Foundation for Arable Research on 021 960 078, Frank Portegys at DairyNZ on (07) 858 3779 or Ian Williams at Pioneer on 0274 950 789.

Following the maize effluent workshop, the Foundation for Arable Research Winter Results Roadshow will be held at 2.30pm at the same venue.