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Phosta K – Organic Potash – Hitting the Sweet Spot in the Sandy Soils of WA

Many farmers look to soil specialists and animal specialists when identifying opportunities to strengthen their farming operation. For Ken Bailey of Haslen Technologies, WA, the sweet spot is found when soil health drives plant health, and finishes with healthy, high producing animals.


“I work with farmers to improve the quality of their soil and pasture, ultimately looking to improve the health of their animals and associated outputs. We do this in the most sustainable way possible, which often means utilising more natural farming inputs,” said Ken.


With clients all over WA, Ken is always on the lookout for new ways of meeting the needs of his customers.


“I work with a number of dairy farmers constantly looking to improve the quality of their grass, as this controls the levels of components in the milk, especially over summer when they are on silage. “Mated heifer nutrition is also very important because at this crucial time, the heifer cannot afford any setbacks, so it’s imperative that feed is abundant and of high quality,” he said.


“Major setbacks can imprint on the animals performance for the rest of her life, through a mechanism known as ‘epigenetics’, which is actually as important as genetics,” he added.


With WA known for its sandy soils, low levels of potash caused by leaching can present real issues with production, resulting in multiple applications of potassium sulphate.


“A high-producing dairy client was cutting his pasture for silage every year, so we were putting on 40-50kgs of potassium sulphate three times per year. But we are very conscious of leaching and eutrophication when putting large amounts of nutrients into paddocks, so I started looking for more slow release fertiliser options,” he said.


“To meet the high production needs and build nutrient levels, we had to be able to do this at the rate the plant could take it up. “That’s where Phosta K from ECTOL Plant and Crop Nutrients came into the picture,” he added.

Phosta K is a slow-release, high-potassium retort ash with 30% K. Derived from the sugarcane industry, not only does the product contain Potassium but also Phosphate, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulphur and all the trace elements that were in the plant at the time of incineration. It is more than simply a Potash source, with all the non-volatile minerals still present.

The form of the Potassium in the ash is understood to include Potassium Sulphate, Potassium Carbonate and Potassium Phosphate, with these three compounds able to greatly enhance plant efficiencies and the stability of the Potassium in the soil.


“On the same dairy farmers clover-based pasture paddock, we did just one application of 100kg/Ha of Phosta K in late autumn 2022 and by spring, we noticed a big jump in productivity. “We were able to achieve a 10 tonne/Ha of dry matter crop of silage plus some grazing from that application,” he said.


Ken noted the biggest response he saw was in the volume of clover coming back into the pastures.


“Next year, we plan to do two applications, starting with the 100kg in late autumn and a follow up of 50-70kgs in the spring, with the aim of lifting the Metabolisable Energy (ME) in the silage from 9 (on average) to 11.


Also offering his clients compost blends and prescription mixes, Phosta K provides an organic alternative to water soluble acidic fertilisers and complements the work Ken is doing to help his clients reduce the amount of urea in their farming systems.


After a number of small trials in 2022, Ken now has nearly 20 of his clients in WA, including mixed farmers, grain and beef producers, seriously trialling the product.


Phosta K is available in two forms, prilled 3-5.5mm granules for application via a seeding machine or as a top dress, and a non-prilled powder, suitable to distribute in Tow and Fert equipment. Both are shipped in 1.25 tonne bulka bags. For more information contact ECTOL Plant and Crop Nutrients on +61 02 9816 2057 or visit www.ectol.com/phosta-k


Images supplied by Ken Bailey, taken in autumn 2023 at time of Phosta K application, showing results after 2022 autumn application.

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