A new hand-held implement makes it possible for small-scale farmers to place phosphate deeper into the soil, where the root system can benefit from it.
Michris Janse van Rensburg has designed and made a hand-held implement to add to a line-up of hand-held tools and implements for small-scale farmers.
“I have worked on this for a while and I think I may have overdesigned it at first,” says Michris, a man who lights up when he talks about crops and solutions for small-scale growers. “Now, I’ve really got it right.”
The new implement is made to deliver a measured (calibrated) amount of fertiliser into the fertiliser band where it is needed.
Phosphate especially must be placed where the plant roots can access it. It does not move in the soil so putting it on the surface means it has a zero effect, says Michris.
“The phosphate must be placed deep; I can’t emphasise this strongly enough,” he adds. “Phosphate is the yield producer.”
Fertiliser company Omnia puts some weight into the importance of phosphate and its influence on yield, particularly at an early stage. “Enough phosphate, 5cm away from the plant and 5cm deep means stronger seedlings,” says an Omnia advisory.
“Phosphate is like Red Bull to a plant. When there is no phosphate uptake, the plant is like a man with a permanent hangover. It won’t kill him, but he does not have the energy to live a good life.”
Michris thinks a great deal of money is wasted every season putting fertiliser in places where it can do nothing for the plant.
“The grower can apply the phosphate after planting,” says Michris, “because it takes at least 10 days for the roots to develop and reach the fertiliser.
I always advise farmers to plant then fertilise; speed is not always the key. Slow but sure can win the day.”