Geoff Robertson Works With Farmers To Improve Soil Health
By Johanna Baker-Dowdell Published August 22, 2017
An article about the drop in the nutritional value of food struck a chord for Stowport’s Geoff Robertson and led to a career change.
A keen gardener – he grows pineapples in his office – who grew up on a dairy farm at Ulverstone, Mr. Robertson knew he could help farmers to build up their soil health with sustainable products and established Farm Nutrition Tas.
“I read an article by the CSIRO about diminishing food values and it inspired me to get out there and do something about it,” Mr. Robertson said.
“Early in life I learned the hard way that treating symptoms does not solve problems. We take a holistic approach to problem-solving,” he said.
The road to improving soil health starts with asking many questions and regular soil testing.
“If we can give back to the soil what is missing, add diversity of soil microbes and exercise care with farming practices, the soil health will progressively improve,” Mr. Robertson said.
“A lot of it comes back to complete nutrition. It’s the same with humans,” he said.
Since he began his business three years ago, Mr. Robertson has worked with an array of producers, including organic blueberry growers, dairy farmers and flower growers.
“[My customers] are not all organic [producers], but they just want to do the best they can for their soil. All my products are kind to the soil,” Mr. Robertson said.
Some of his tools of the trade are his soil testing kit, a refractometer to test sugar values in plants, a penetrometer to gauge the level of softness in the soil and conductivity meter to test fertilizer levels.
“You really have to do it with some science,” Mr. Robertson said.
“You can get plants that look good but have no nutritional value. Cattle can eat and eat but aren’t satisfied.
“Farmers are unsure of what they need to do. Although I may not be qualified to give them the answer, I will find out,” he said.
Mr. Robertson has been working with organically certified FertAg CMP, which contains calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, more recently.
He has sold 60 tonnes of the FertAg product in the past few months to improve soil and build nutrients at his customer’s properties.
“We’re only just beginning to see results,” Mr. Robertson said.
“I’ve had a farmer using a similar product, along with other products, for three years and it has transformed his farm.
“His soil had water running off it so we had to put what was missing back into the soil to make it work,” he said.
Laura Rance is editorial director for Glacier FarmMedia. She can be reached at [email protected] or 204-792-4382.