A GROWING MARKET FOR ORGANIC SUGAR by Jenny Slabber
Commercial Organic Farming in SA is young, but demand for organic produce by health conscious consumers has led to worldwide growth. This creates new markets for sugar producers as organic sugar is being imported in increasing quantities to SA. Local availability could kick start a variety of organic processing industries like jams, sweets, canned fruit and juice.
What are the basic principals of organics?
Organic farmers build up soil life and health, by increasing compost content, improving the structure and balance nutrient levels to deliver quality crops. Inputs like poisons, synthetic fertilizers and herbicides are strictly forbidden. Certified Organic assures the consumer that an inspected system, governed by worldwide standards through IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) is applied.
What are the advantages of Organic Fertilizer?
Organic fertilizers replenish natural nutrients, stimulate microbial activity, replenish carbon sources, and build soil structure which assists with water and nutrient retention. As balance is regained, incidence of pest, disease and weed is reduced as these are all indicators of imbalance, deficiency or unsuitable growing conditions.
Talborne Organic fertilizer ranges
Talborne Organics manufactures fertilizers for Certified Organic farmers to produce quantity and quality crops using natural and sustainable farming practises.
- VITA - is a high feed N, P, K range with minor and trace nutrients
- ECO - ECO-logical, ECO-nomical, compost enriched with natural fertilizer to deliver a medium range feed of N, P, K, minor and trace nutrients for depleted soils.
Organic Inputs approved by OFF of UK and registered RSA NDA.
Arthur Philip from Talborne Organics KZN shares his experience on organic sugar cane production:
Dry land cane requires 120 (N) 27(P) 120 (K). Talborne fertilizer will do this on 60(N) 10(P) 60(K) or 800 Kg/Ha 5: 1:5 (16). As most dry land farmers burn, they still leave a small amount of leaves and the tops on the floor. In this case we can apply 500 Kg/Ha 5:1:5 (16). And still meet the nutritional requirements. Yields vary between 45 & 55 Tons per hectare “Depending on rainfall”.
Irrigated lands require 160 (N) 32(P) 160(K). Talborne fertilizer will do this on 100(N) 20(P) 100(K). Apply 1 Ton per hectare 5:1:5 (16). Any recycled nutrients will need to be calculated separately and deducted from the application quantity.
Locally we encourage the use of CMS or (Condensed Molasses stillage). It carries 1.5% (N). 0.25 % (P) & 6% (K).It is available free of charge from the Mills, farmers pay for transport only. It is generally applied at 4 tons per hectare. This all helps to reduce the required amount of fertilizer.
Where we can get farmers to trash and apply CMS we can get the required fertilizer application down to 400 Kg per hectare 4:1:1 (15). This is because the CMS supplies almost enough Potassium and Phosphate for the crop cycle. It is not easy to get labour and expensive to trash sugar cane. As trashing and crop recycling makes up an important component for organic farming, it is important to establish what is, and what is not possible in every set of circumstances. Some farmers live close to the mills and CMS is easy and cheap, but, not everybody can live next to the mill. Conditions will be different on every farm, so it is not possible to make hard and fast rules concerning fertilizer application rates.
My approach is to establish the required NPK levels, based on soil analysis. Then establish the NPK values from recyclable plant residues. Subtract the one from the other and apply fertilizer for the difference.