Animal Health and Soil

In his extensive career as a veterinarian in rural New Zealand, Allan has dedicated over 30 years to observing the challenges faced by farmers, particularly in the realm of animal health and reproductive performance. While specializing in dairy farms, Allan’s experience spans sheep, beef, and deer farming, covering regions from Taranaki Wanganui to Canterbury.

Over the past decade, Allan has delved into researching the root causes of declining animal health, pointing to a connection between the quality of animals’ feed intake, soil health, and the subsequent increase in farming costs. He identifies a decline in total mineral content availability and an imbalance in the protein-to-carbohydrate ratio in the diet as contributing factors.

Allan emphasizes the importance of soil health in plant growth, drawing parallels between hydroponic farming and traditional soil-based cultivation. He highlights the role of soil microbes, particularly bacteria, in naturally increasing Electrical Conductivity (EC) in healthy soils, crucial for plant growth. The decline in soil health, due to factors like compaction and pH imbalance, emerges as a fundamental issue on modern farms.

The veterinarian underscores the significance of photosynthesis in plant health, explaining the two stages—light and dark reactions. Allan emphasizes the role of available Calcium as a vital co-factor in producing Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency for plant and biological organism health.

Allan draws an analogy to a high-rise building, likening Calcium and Phosphorus to occupants in an elevator. Stressing the importance of soil Electrical Conductivity, he asserts that an absence of these essential minerals leads to compromised plant physiology.

The article details the impact of conventional fertilizers, such as urea, on soil structure and plant health. Allan explains the consequences of imbalances in sugar levels, the overuse of synthetic nitrogen, and the resulting vulnerability of plants to diseases and insect attacks.

Shifting focus to animal health, Allan elucidates how feeding animals low-sugar, low-mineralized, and high-protein diets leads to imbalances in rumen microbiology. This imbalance, coupled with inadequate fiber intake, can result in subclinical rumen acidosis, impacting the overall health of livestock.

Allan concludes by asserting that the majority of observed animal health and production failures are linked to the unhealthy state of the soil on many farms. He advocates for a scientific approach to soil management and the use of products that enhance soil health, paving the way for better-quality feed that serves as a balanced diet for grazing animals. Allan envisions a shift towards sustainable farming practices informed by a deep understanding of soil science.

Allan Piercy

Agraforum NZ Ltd

Ph 0274 485 159


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