Soil balance the key to growing at Munash
AN Munro’s passion lies solely at his feet. Or under his feet, to be specific. Ian is the founder of Pootilla-based Munash Natural Fertilizers, and spending time with him, his obsession with soil is quickly revealed.
This obsession has led him onto his career path and passion to rebalance our soils, putting him at the top of industry leaders in soil rejuvenation. A considered and highly driven man, Ian discovered it is imperative to nourish the soil via organic composition. Over many decades, this has become a labour of love, established by meandering in the field of soil science, observation, rigorous testing and analysis. That he is a patient man goes without saying. Raised in Walpeup in Victoria’s Mallee, Ian was engrossed with the Mallee Research Centre, and fortunate enough to have the ear of locally well-versed agronomists and Department of Primary Industries staff, from whom he learned a great deal. Growing up in wheat country, a descendant of intergenerational farmers, these encounters greatly sparked his interest. Ian is the type of bloke for whom the land is everything, hence his deep relationship with it. He went on to be, among many things, a sheep farmer, a shearer, a market gardener; learning all he could to do with soils along the way, chiefly how to get the best out of them, the organic way. Ian believes chemicals on farms don't work and too much is invested in them. “Soil, water and microbes mean healthy food for healthy people. The more demands on a plant, the fewer nutrients produced.” A lack of knowledge among growers, plus their use of chemicals, he regards as a challenge. His own knowledge, coupled with listening to the farmers' observations, plus Ian’s innate sense of what is right for a particular soil, makes his products a popular commodity with the organic farming world. Ian believes soil balance is the key to growing. Balance is the word that launched his move from farming to producing natural fertilisers almost three decades ago. In the late 1980s, Ian joined a WA rockdust company for two years, which he went on to buy. Ian named it Munash Natural Fertilizers, and his aim from that day forward has been to build better soil. “I learned an awful lot while running my farm. I started growing broccoli, caulis, cabbages and a few potatoes to sell at the wholesale market in Melbourne.” He joined a Creswick growers’ group, then became an agent for a Euroa-based fertiliser company. Viewed by many during those times as unorthodox, Ian’s theories are proved via the results achieved. Many farmers today are seeking alternatives and are more adaptive to new ideas. Chemical-laden products are prone to cause virus and disease, whereas the organic approach is producing better yields. “It all starts with the soil,” Ian says. “Energy is the key, so I found out how it worked. For plants to grow properly you have to feed the soil. If you use a lot of chemicals, you get bad soil. We prefer to work with nature.” He receives constant positive customer feedback, such as the NSW dairy farmer increasing his milking output by six litres a day per cow, and a grazier reporting better lambs, meaning vastly improved prices from using Munash’s Rockdust. Munash Rockdust is the only rockdust worldwide to be uniquely blended from ground basalt and granite from a Central Victorian quarry. It is also a process that is strictly quality controlled and done en masse, ensuring that all the minerals are 100 per cent balanced. Every batch is tested before being packed, and all Munash products come with a National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia certification. Not only does it balance the soil, but it also continues working for four years, aerating the soil and feeding it with microbes, which is what the plants feed on and rely on for healthy soil nutrition. Munash today is an award-winning business, with three Victorian agents, two in NSW and is slowly migrating into Queensland, securing the eastern seaboard. Ian’s focus is firmly on how natural soil fertilisers at his family-run organics business can change farming now and into the future. Munash is at the forefront of the industry selling a range of other products including Renew, a mineral liquid fertiliser made from southern ocean waters containing trace elements plants love; and Revitalize, Munash’s certified organic compost. “You have to balance microbes, air and water to reduce the amount of water used, which saves money," Ian says. "Farmers haven’t done the wrong thing, they have just been told what to do by the chemical companies. We have gone far beyond just adding minerals and addressing the topsoil issues like other products, the slow absorption of rockdust means the soil is replenished over time, slowly and surely. Rockdust is nature’s food." Ian and his staff of eight share a core mission to bring soil back to life. He has dedicated his life to it and is now passing down this knowledge to his family and staff to continue his legacy in improving the region’s soil.
Words: Lou Ridsdale | Images: Kyle Barnes
“Soil, water and microbes mean healthy food for healthy people. The more demands on a plant, the fewer nutrients produced.” - Ian Munro, founder Munash Natural Fertilizers