Guideline Index

Chapter 5: Understanding and Managing Soil Biology

5.9 Summary

Dairy systems are generally high input and bearing in mind that all nutrient transformations – be they organic manures or inorganic fertilisers – are mediated by soil biology, any negative impact on soil biology may reduce the efficiency of nutrient and carbon cycles. Being aware of the needs of soil organisms will allow the farmer to make more informed decisions with regard to protecting and enhancing soil condition.

Soil life principally needs energy resources, together with the basics of existence – air, water and habitat – to thrive. The ages-old practice of applying organic material to soils is being recognised as vital to improving and maintaining soil condition. The issue for modern dairy farming is to integrate the twin challenges of maintaining production through judicious fertiliser application, and feeding the soil with regular organic inputs.