More than nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, there are 13 elements were needed for plant growth says Hamilton-based Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram (PhD).
As an expert in all things soil, Gordon wants to showcase these unsung heroes, cobalt, selenium and iodine and how they are essential for animal health and nutrition.
Known as an essential micronutrient, cobalt contributes a lot to soil organisms, plant performance and healthy animals. Cobalt is a key component of Vitamin B12 and propionate. Propionate is one of the main sources of energy which a plant uses to grow. Vitamin B12 is critical for cell division, which in turn plays an important part in plant growth because it provides more cells for the plant to grow in a healthy manner.
Cobalt also helps with the nitrogen-fixing ability of legumes in the plant and can aid in the efficiency of ruminal digestion. “In particular, lambs have a high requirement for cobalt, followed by calves, adult sheep and adult cattle. Young animals are more likely to be affected by cobalt deficiency than fully-grown animals, so it’s important to watch out for,” comments Gordon.
Selenium plays an important role in milk production, disease resistance, placental shedding, stock reproduction, calf viability and immunity. “Selenium is vital for cows and ewes from before mating to the end of the gestation period,” advises Gordon. By testing and treating the soil for selenium, instead of the animal, a reduction in cases of selenium deficiency in animals can be gained. Treating the soil for selenium deficiency will also work out a lot cheaper than treating individual animals.
Iodine is needed for energy metabolism. milk production, protein synthesis and reproduction “We have seen that the uptake of iodine by pasture can be quite low,” says Gordon. Moreover, iodine is also easily leached during wet weather. Iodine is also an important player in immune system functions, such as sending immune cells to the site of injury and bacteria-killing ability. Soil testing can recognise deficiencies in the soil, such as Iodine, so it can be rectified quickly.
About The Soil Scientist
Gordon is dedicated to helping all farmers get most out of their soil so that their farm can work more efficiently, be sustainable while improving the farm profitability.
Phone: 021 466 077
Phone: 0274 587 724