While energy and protein availability are the primary concerns in animal production, true feed quality can be a major limiting factor for livestock farmers. Established agricultural soils are often deficient in essential trace elements such as like copper, cobalt and selenium. These minerals are critical for metabolic and enzyme systems that support animal health & production. Quality animal fodder is regarded as the most biologically efficient and cost-effective solution to address livestock mineral deficiencies. Improving on-farm animal feed and understanding purchased fodder is particularly important when managing softer livestock prices. There are a number of independent and government laboratories that offer feed testing services to assess crude protein, digestible energy, fibre and carbohydrates, as well as providing comparisons to national fodder quality averages. For example the NSW Department of Primary Industries, offers affordable tests and sampling guidelines. By testing, we can understand our own fodder deficiencies, verify quality when sourcing externally and validate if supplying to other growers.
Improving fodder starts at the soil – comprehensive soil testing to monitor nutrient levels, trace elements, CEC and soil pH is essential for understanding the soils limiting factors, relevant to animal deficiencies and overall productivity. Australian Mineral Fertilisers offer soil testing and analysis services, as well as the Grow Safe® product range of mineral and microbial fertilisers.
Strategies to enhancing soil health and fodder quality include:
- Inoculating with soil microbiology
- Facilitating biological colonisation with compatible inputs and management practices
- Application of comprehensive minerals (beyond NPK)
- Cultivating deeper-rooted perennials
- Retention of organic residues (ie. post cropping)
- Building root biomass (enabled through microbes and minerals)
The Grow Safe® fertiliser range is fortified with sixty trace and ultra-trace elements, including vital elements for animal fertility or plant nutrient uptake, such as zinc, selenium, cobalt, molybdenum, manganese and rubidium. Independent trials of Grow Safe® products have highlighted significant gains to Nutrient Use Efficiency, largely through enhancements to root mass, surface area and mycorrhizal colonisation compared to standard fertiliser practice.