Business Rural Winter 2022

50 | RURAL SERVICES » Mainland Minerals Southern Custom made fert, where less means more Director Murray Cockburn and Operations Manager Aimee Cockburn. Virginia Wright Murray and Aimee Cockburn didn’t hesitate to buy into Mainland Minerals Southern with Aimee’s father Gavin Keith when the opportunity arose in 2007. They supply custom-made fertiliser mixes to farms south of the Waitaki River combining with the other two regional suppliers to be the third biggest supplier of fertiliser in the county. Founded in 1938 the company was joined in 1998 by soil scientist Dr. Tim Jenkins. They wanted to know the effects of their fertilisers on the soil, the plants, the animals and ultimately on the food being produced. They knew that sustainability was an important factor, and they hoped that applying ne particle fertiliser would tick all their boxes. With Dr. Jenkins (who subsequently went out on his own, and the IP has since been sold to Donaghys) they wanted to make sure that they offered the best possible fertiliser solutions for their clients. Dr. Jenkins’ research into ne particle fertiliser shed light on the different behaviours of key fertiliser nutrients when it comes to plant uptake. “It’s like a sliding scale as to what goes through,” explains Murray Cockburn. “Plant uptake of nitrogen and magnesium is very ef cient going through the leaf of the plant, through to selenium which is very poor. What Dr. Jenkins proved is that using the ne particle form was a lot more ef cient and also economically sustainable over the long term compared to using granular.” Mainland Minerals Southern is a family run business with Gavin, Murray and Aimee all actively involved in the company. It was thanks to collaboration with more family, Murray’s late brother Grant, who at the time was running Mt. Prospect Station where Murray grew up, that Mainland Minerals Southern went on to work out that using a combination of both ne particle and granular, at different times, offers a sustainable, economically viable solution to fertiliser needs over both the short and the long term. “We worked together using Grant’s fertiliser trying to gure out how we could get this ne particle working well, so we innovated together trialing different things,” says Murray. They recognised a pattern in several scenarios where using only ne particle fertiliser saw a drop in phosphorus levels over the longer term, explains Murray. “Which meant they were getting the bene t of healthy soil structure but if the nutrient pantry started dropping away then the limitation in phosphorus or potassium meant they’d go back to applying traditional super phosphate and then all of a sudden there was a massive lift in production. This was a problem we set about solving.” Knowing that should be part and parcel of what Mainland Minerals Southern fertilisers were offering spurred Murray and Grant into trialing a system of alternating granular delivery with ne particle delivery and tracking the long-term trends. “We found we needed to keep the pantry suf ciently full with phosphorus and potassium to maximise the gains brought by the other nutrients and get the biology of the soil working.” The results were obvious in terms of production gains and the key to it all is the regular soil testing which still underpins the mix of nutrients used and their delivery method. With agriculture increasingly the focus of the world’s need to become sustainable their philosophy of “less means more” underpins their intention to only apply the fertiliser that meets the needs of the speci c farmer they’re working with, with maximum plant uptake and minimum waste. They know that every farm is different so they map the nutrient pro le of different areas of the farm using as many soil tests as needed. They effectively “jigsaw the farm”, and combine their raw ingredients in a custom made brew designed to meet the speci c needs of the various farm areas identi ed, using whichever application method best suits the terrain. “The key thing for the guys is not increased plant production, it’s more milk in the vat or meat weight out the gate and reducing animal health costs. By doing all of that is where we’ve really shown the power of the ne particle and the granular together,” says Murray. “The results speak for themselves.” Proud to support Mainland Minerals For a personal approach to all your business advisory and accoun�ng requirements, contact CEG today p 03 479 0400 e w Hokonui Rural Transport are proud to support Mainland Minerals Southern 03 203 9010 03 203 9010 Your local transport specialist • Livestock Cartage • Bulk Cartage • Woodchip & Sawdust • GPS Fertiliser Spreading (03) 203 8118 195 Main Street, Mataura Your locally owned & operated transport company PROUD TO SUPPORT MAINLAND MINERALS SOUTHERN “We found we needed to keep the pantry suf ciently full with phosphorus and potassium to maximise the gains brought by the other nutrients and get the biology of the soil working.”