Thursday, April 22, 2010

WormsWorks Field Day

Thirty McLaren Vale grape growers joined us for the Wormsworks Field day with Malcolm Campell. Wormworks use a giantic indoor worm farm to recycle waste product and convert it into a very rich fertliser.

Malcolm's Recommendations -


For high salinity / or dead soils - Solid Vermicast 5m3 (Cubic Metre) per hectare undervine. Autumn or Winter application.

For fertiliser replacement - Liquid Vermicast @ 10lts a hectare at shoots 20-30cm. Spring application.

If you couldn't make the field day and would like to know more ask DJ's Agronomists, Sam Freeman, Derek Cameron, Matt Wilson, Richard McGeachy or myself, James Hook. More information on application in viticulture follow the link here.

Malcolm's thoughts

Mycorrhizae are vital in farming.

With the astronomical rise in world nutrient prices in the past year Australian primary producers are keen to source alternative sources of nitrogen at affordable prices. The clear standout in this field is to rely on adding mycorrhizae to your soil.

So what are mycorrhizae? Mycorrhizae are generally spoken of in the plural (rather than the singular mycorrhiza) since they comprise vast colonies are very small micro-organisms found naturally in the top profile of undisturbed soils. Visually they resemble the fine white root like growths that you see when you pull up a mushroom. That’s not surprising because what looks like mushroom roots are mycorrhizae that are fine fungal filaments.

There are literally tens of thousand of different types or species and some enter the roots of host plants to aid the collection of nutrients and even assist their host to turn atmospheric nitrogen into organic nitrogen that a plant can use to aid its growth. This type is called endomycorrhizae. Another group of these tiny organisms termed the exomycorrhizae stay on the outside of the plant such as the mushroom and pine tree roots and turn soil nutrients into forms of nutrient that are more readily available to the host plant. Both types are soil born organisms that do not retard or destroy the host plant but on poor soils greatly improve the plant’s ability to survive on poor soils.

When a cereal farmer plants a crop of wheat for instance they frequently inject soluble nitrogen as urea (that is 42% nitrogen in the form of a salt), but on very alkaline soils of say pH 9, such as those soils in the Murray Mallee of SA and Victoria the soil alkalinity locks up much of the nitrogen. This in effect means the farmer(s) paid for nutrients that their plants cannot access. They are sitting on reserves of soil nutrients and not just nitrogen that can be released with the aid of the tiny catalytic soil organisms, the noble mycorrhizae.

Fortunately these tiny mycorrhizae are plentiful in worm castings and although there are commercial sources of mycorrhizae rich compounds being sold by farm supply companies, the richest and cheapest source is in inoculated worm castings.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty accurate account of my presentation. Well done and it was a lovely day too. Cheers
Malcolm Campbell

James Hook said...

Thanks Malcolm.