The “mulch vs fertilisers” debate has been raging for decades but the verdict is now in: Mulch is the better, more cost-effective option for sustainable farming.
When it comes to maintaining soil for your agricultural business, mulch should be your first option.
The Big Differences
These two types of soil nutrients couldn’t be much more different:
- Mulch: Mulch is home-grown, direct from the land it’s replenishing. Mulch is easy to create, easy to deliver with a good spreader, and almost cost-free, apart from the time spent composting and delivering the mulch to the soil. Mulch also acts as a soil improvement, which is critically important in many Australian farming environments. One of the major appeals of mulch is that it’s DIY, a self-supporting method which works well with Australia’s independent farming ethos.
- Fertilisers: Fertilisers are packaged products, designed to deliver nutrients in a cookie-cutter cycle. You lay your fertiliser, grow your crops, and buy more fertiliser. Many farmers will tell you that this is an expensive, time-consuming process involving a lot of work, and totally dependent on fertiliser quality. Fertilisers add precisely nothing to soil improvement, either. You’re planting your fertiliser on the same thin bandwidth of soil without improving soil depth or quality.
Why Mulch Is Better Than Fertilisers
Fertilisers lose this argument for a range of pretty convincing reasons:
- Fertilisers can only do so much: If you look at the average fertiliser, (and some of them are pretty average) you’ll see a list of nutrients. Good fertilisers have a very broad spectrum of nutrients, but all commercial crops have specific nutrient needs. There’s no “One Size Fits All” fertiliser in practice. Mulching – delivering the right mix of nutrients for particular crops – is the DIY better option for supplying the nutrients your crops actually
- Phosphates: Some fertilisers include extra phosphate, which is fine for some plants, but can “bleach” the soil, promoting growth but depleting the soil in the process, sometimes severely. You may need to do intensive soil preparation for the next crop. A better balanced, less aggressive but safer approach is to use mulch, which is chemically friendlier to the soil, and promotes soil biota growth both during the crop growing and post-harvest cycles.
- Cost: The cost of fertilisers is no great mystery to people on the land. Prices aren’t farmer-friendly, and the outlay can be excessive on stretched budgets. There’s no contest between mulch and fertilisers in this case; mulch is far cheaper, and far more reliable in terms of promoting soil fertility.
- Better mulching techniques and equipment: New mulching, spreading and composting equipment has tipped the scales further in favour of mulching. Mulching can now be realistically achieved on a much larger scale, and Australia’s farmers haven’t been slow to see the benefits.
Need Good Mulching Machinery?
Southern Cross Ag Machinery offers a complete range of top quality mulching equipment. Call us on 02 4932 3011 or contact us online and ask us for any help you need sourcing your mulching and composting equipment.