What are the basic principals of organics?
Answer: The essence of Organic growing is the building up of soil health in order to deliver quality plant, animal and human life through quality food. (soil life like beneficial micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi), humus content (compost) content, structure of the soil and nutrient levels. Inputs which damage the environment, pollute, kill soil life, or cause toxicity in food, soil and water sources are strictly forbidden in organic methods. When a product, food or process is Certified Organic the user is assured that a stringent inspection and control system, governed by worldwide standards through IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) is applied.
What is Talborne Organics primary market?
Answer: Answer: Talborne Organics primary market is the environmentally aware farmer producing for high value or niche markets such as certified organic or produce destined for the export market, under Global Gap. This is a market encompassing a very wide spread of growers from Avocado's, Citrus, Table and Wine Grapes, Vegetables, Culinary, Medicinal and Essential Oil Herbs to wheat for organic flour. Other markets are wholesale and retail nurseries and landscapers. Talborne Organics produces a range of specialist Turf fertilizers used on sports grounds and leading golf courses. Even they are using natural, organic and biological, environmentally friendly products.
Give an indication of your organic product ranges?
Answer: Talborne Organics manufacture two Organic Fertilizer ranges and a biological fertilizer range:
✓ VITA: is a high feed N, P, K range with minor and trace nutrients. The only organic Registered Group 1 Fertilizer in S.A.
✓ ECO: eco- logical, eco-nomical compost enriched with VITA fertilizer to deliver a medium range feed of N, P, K, minor and micro elements. Especially valuable where soil humus levels are depleted.
✓ ENVIRO – CARE: ‘Best of both’ organic high nutrient blend fertilizer enriched with selected chemical fertilizers for biological farmers and projects.
To cater for the growers needs Talborne Organics distributes Biogrow Organic Pest and Disease Control, Fertilis Earthworm Castings and Liquid Fertilizers. Selected products are approved inputs for Certified Organic, low residue production and are registered through S.A. Department of Agriculture, therefore suitable for Global Gap production.
Talborne manufactures organic fertiliser. How does it compare with synthetic fertilizer in terms of efficiency and cost?Answer: Direct comparisons are difficult, so an explanation to introduce a few concepts would be useful. In the past organic methods were viewed as low cost inputs (i.e. when animal manures or composts were the only source of nutrients) which often resulted in low productivity and was hardly commercially viable. Produce was stunted, diseased and nutritionally deficient when grown in the naturally poor soils found in many parts of South Africa. Talborne responded to this challenge by developing scientifically formulated complete organic fertilizers which supply generous feeds of Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potassium (K), minor and micro nutrients for optimum commercial production.
Standard synthetic fertilizer supply one, two or three nutrients only, with no minor or micro nutrients (e.g. LAN, Superphoshate or synthetic 2 : 3 : 2 ). This results in multiple applications of fertilizers to ensure sufficient nutrients as well as top ups of foliar trace nutrients which are costly.
Most synthetic fertilizers are treated to be water soluble, by combining the nutrient with a salt, to make it readily available to the plant. This property increases the potential loss of nutrient through leaching of up to 50%. This is seldom factored into cost. By using natural nutrients from plant, animal and mineral sources Talborne Organic Fertilizers nutrients are bound in complex forms which are not water soluble. Nutrients are released by microbial action in the soil (fungi, bacteria, algae, plant exudes and soil insects) resulting in longer term sustained release.
The bulk of synthetic fertilizers consist of fillers or carriers like salts, lime or granite chips with nutrients contributing anything from 10-33% of actual weight purchased. Talborne Organic Fertilizers do not contain added carriers or fillers.
Many additional factors impact indirectly on eventual cost of fertilizer, particularly when the sustainability of the farming enterprise is considered. S.A. farmers are being pressured by lifeless unproductive soils, pollution of rivers and the escalating cost of pest and disease control associated with years of overuse of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and poisons.
Feedback from farmers using Talborne is that for a similar cost to synthetics, they are getting equivalent or increased production while soil improves. This results in reduced inputs in subsequent plantings.
What are the advantages of Organic Fertilizer?
Answer: In addition to the above, organic fertilizers stimulate microbial activity, replenish carbon sources (humus), build good soil structure which assists with water and nutrient retention of soils. As balance is regained, incidence of pest, disease and weed is reduced as these are all indicators of imbalance, deficiency or unsuitable growing conditions. Food grown in good soil is more nutritious and delicious and has a longer shelf life.
Can insect pests be controlled as effectively with organic products as with synthetic insecticides?
Answer: The organic grower will be guided by the saying "Prevention is easier and less costly than cure." They strive to grow strong and healthy plants which resist pests and disease with natural immunity. High pest attack is nature's quality control system removing the weak plant to prevent propagation of a poor specimen. In preference to using poisons, which kill the good with the bad, the organic grower uses products that disrupt the pests life cycles, comfort, feeding habits, or acts as a repellent. This allows for the preservation of predators and beneficial insects to flourish and contain pest outbreaks naturally. Only as a last resort are natural poisons like Pyrethrum used to regain control of pest attacks. Natural poisons breakdown rapidly so do not result in toxic poison residues in food or the environment.
Do you find that there is a growing interest in Organic farming in South Africa?
Answer: Talborne exported components of our fertilizer range to Europe, mostly Germany in the early 1990's when environmental legislation restricted the use of synthetic, water soluble fertilizers to control environmental pollution.
Talborne Organics fertilizers were conceptualised in the early 90's but local market interest justified the launch of Vita Organic Fertilizer in 2000. Organic methods were previously regarded with suspicion and classified as emotional/eccentric. Today there is a focus on organic methods as the future of growing albeit under different labels. Biological, nature, sustainable, biodynamic and permaculture all subscribe to the organic concept of nurturing the soil. Large commercial agricultural groups have embraced and benefited from these methods.
Many a farmer converted from conventional synthetic growing has remarked, that the organic approach to farming has rekindled a passion for farming that had been lost in a haze of toxins before!