Integrated Nutrient Management is a way of taking care of soil and plants by making sure they get the right nutrients in the best possible way.
It involves using a mix of organic (like compost or manure), inorganic (like fertilisers), and biological (like using beneficial microbes) components to keep the soil fertile and provide plants with what they need to grow well.
The goal is to balance and optimise these different sources to get the best results in terms of plant productivity. Kelly Tillage recognises the pivotal role of integrated nutrient management in farming.
Recognising the profound importance of this approach, Kelly Tillage developed farming equipment designed to support farmers in integrated nutrient management.
Our disc harrows ensure that the soil is tilled effortlessly, facilitating the effective incorporation of nutrients into the soil.
Integrated Nutrient Management: Important Concepts
Before exploring the details of integrated nutrient management, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what nutrients are and why it’s important to manage them properly.
What are Nutrients
Crops require macronutrients in large quantities and micronutrients in smaller quantities for optimal growth. Essential gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen are obtained from the air, while hydrogen is sourced from water.
Additionally, soil contributes various important micronutrients (iron, copper, zinc, chlorine, boron, manganese) and macronutrients (calcium, magnesium, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus).
Managing these nutrients well is key for making sure our crops don’t get sick, the soil stays fertile, and our farming practices are sustainable. So, let’s explore the key ideas that make up integrated nutrient management.
The Stored Nutrients in the Soil
This refers to the natural nutrients present in the soil, like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential for plant growth. These nutrients come from the weathering of rocks and organic matter in the soil.
Getting Nutrients from Outside the Farm
Sometimes, the soil may not have enough nutrients for crops to grow well. Farmers can buy fertilisers containing specific nutrients and apply them to the soil to supplement what’s already there.
Nutrients in Residues, Manures, and Wastes
After harvesting a crop, parts like stems and leaves are left on the field. These residues, along with manure (animal dung) and domestic wastes, contain nutrients.
When these are returned to the soil, they act as natural fertilisers, enriching the soil with essential elements.
Manures in Integrated Nutrient Management
Manure is created from animal-plant waste. It contains a small amount of nutrients and a large amount of organic material. When we add manure to the soil, it improves the soil by providing nutrients and organic matter.
This is helpful for sandy soil because it makes it hold more water, and for clayey soil, it helps with drainage and prevents waterlogging. Manure is a natural way of recycling biological waste and is a better choice for the soil compared to artificial fertilisers.
Manure can be divided into two types: compost and vermicompost.
Vermicomposting is a natural and biological method where earthworms play a key role in transforming organic waste into nutrient-rich manure. This resulting product is valuable as a biofertiliser.
Compost, on the other hand, refers to the final product obtained through the decomposition of organic matter.
During composting, microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi play a crucial role in breaking down organic materials, like plant waste, into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner known as compost.
Compost is valuable for improving soil fertility, structure, and water retention, making it a popular choice for organic gardening and sustainable agriculture.
Nutrient Uptake by Crops at Harvest Time
As crops grow, they absorb nutrients from the soil. At harvest time, these nutrients are in the harvested parts of the plant, like grains or fruits.
Understanding how much of each nutrient the crop takes up helps farmers plan how to replenish the soil for the next crop.
Nutrient Loss From the Field During Crop Harvest or via Volatilization
During the harvest, nutrients are removed from the field because they are in the harvested crop. Volatilisation is when nitrogen (N) escapes into the air as a gas.
This happens because ammonium, a form of nitrogen in the soil, changes into ammonia gas and goes into the atmosphere. Managing these losses is crucial to maintaining soil fertility.
Integrated Nutrient Management Advantages
Integrated nutrient management has several benefits for soil and crops:
Boosts Nutrient Availability
It helps make sure that the soil has the right nutrients for plants, both from natural sources and added fertilisers.
Balanced Nutrition for Crops
It provides a well-rounded diet for plants, avoiding problems that can arise from missing or unbalanced nutrients.
Enhances Soil Health
The approach maintains the overall well-being of the soil by supporting its physical, chemical, and biological functions.
Storing Carbon in the Soil
By this approach, carbon is kept in the soil. This is important because carbon in the soil helps to improve soil structure and fertility.
Minimise Nutrient Loss to Water Bodies
It ensures that the nutrients plants need are provided efficiently. This reduces the risk of excess nutrients washing into rivers or lakes, which can cause water pollution.
Decreases Air Pollution
Proper nutrient management helps in using fertilisers more efficiently. This reduces the release of harmful gases into the air, contributing to less air pollution.
Matches Crop Needs with Nutrient Supply
Integrated management ensures that the timing of nutrient supply aligns with when crops need them, keeping everything in sync.
Nutrient management involves the careful planning and application of fertilisers and other nutrient sources to meet the nutritional needs of crops.
It primarily focuses on supplying the necessary nutrients for crop growth in a targeted and efficient manner.
Nutrient management typically deals with the precise application of synthetic fertilisers and amendments based on soil tests and crop requirements.
Integrated Nutrient Management with Kelly Tillage
Kelly Tillage disc harrow (Model 3009) plays an important role in integrated nutrient management. Below is an explanation of how
Floating Wings Cylinders
They compensate for uneven field surfaces and ensure that the disc harrow maintains consistent soil contact. This feature allows for the efficient incorporation of organic matter or crop residues into the soil, aiding in nutrient cycling.
Forged Pivots for Joint Strength
The forged pivots not only enhance joint strength but also contribute to the durability of the disc harrow.
This durability is crucial in maintaining the equipment’s functionality over time, ensuring reliable and continuous incorporation of organic materials for improved nutrient availability in the soil.
Interchangeable CentreFrame and Wing Wheels
The ease of service provided by interchangeable parts simplifies maintenance. Regular maintenance ensures the proper functioning of the disc harrow, allowing for consistent integrated nutrient management practices without interruptions.
Improved Manoeuvrability with Reworked Drawbar
The reworked drawbar that improves manoeuvrability allows for tighter turning. This is advantageous when navigating through fields with different crop residues, facilitating better coverage and incorporation of nutrients across the entire field.
In summary, Integrated Nutrient Management offers a holistic and sustainable approach to optimising soil fertility and crop yield.
By combining organic and inorganic sources, integrated nutrient management ensures balanced nutrition, promoting both productivity and environmental responsibility in farming.