Soil health depends on a constant balance of nutrients (aka co-factors) and soil life. This is why 90% of our customized crop health therapy protocols and custom fertilizer blends at Custom Agricultural Intelligence Inc. are geared towards soil health. We believe that a healthy soil will output a healthy crop, it is that simple. For the soil to output a healthy crop that will build bushels, it must follow its unique blueprint for growth. Let’s take a moment to discuss the crop’s unique blueprints for growth. Here are a couple of important points;
- There must be a balance in co-factors and crop hormones at critical stages of the crop’s growth cycle.
- There is a hierarchy of nutrient uptake from the soil. (Our protocol covers this point).
- Different co-factors and hormones are needed at critical stages of the crop’s growth cycle.
- Plant food (N.P.K.S) and plant multivitamins (primary and secondary micro-nutrients) are important and need to be applied in such a way that there is a balance in cations and anions. This is what true nutrient balance means.
Currently, we have the application of plant food (N.P.K.S) taken care of by way of calculated amounts of compound fertilizer blends applied at seeding or broadcasted in the fall. The co-factors are now being applied in a couple of ways via foliar feeding, liquid impregnation of dry fertilizers and dry incorporation with dry fertilizer.
As a leading manufacturer of both liquid and dry custom fertilizer blend formulations, we will like to educate growers on the meaning of the different methods of incorporating micro-nutrients to give them a fair chance at understanding what adds “true” value and “perceived” value.
Liquid Foliar feeding products: This is mostly a dry-liquid suspension of one or more macro and/or micro-nutrients in a solution. The ingredients are premixed together in a W/W or W/V manner using mostly water as the base. Most times, they come in chelated forms which helps to improve the nutrients absorption by the crop. The resulting product is created according to a formulation and sprayed at critical points in the crop’s growth cycle.
- Supplies micro amounts of macro/micro-nutrients.
- If chelated, absorption of the micro-nutrients is enhanced.
- Can be applied with most crop protection products if compatibility is tested.
- Might lead to leaf burn if not formulated correctly.
- Nutrients present may not compliment soils nutrient deficiencies effectively.
- Can’t rebuild soil nutrient bank which is critical to soil health.
Liquid impregnation on dry fertilizer: In this approach, micro-nutrients made by the procedure described above is sprayed on dry fertilizer (usually urea) at low rates in a bid to incorporate micro-nutrients into the pellets. The micro-nutrients to be could be impregnated could be varied or specific depending on the formulation of the liquid. This process has been hailed as a step forward towards safely getting micro-nutrients into the seed bed for absorption by the seedling and the crop. It is our opinion that the amount of nutrient impregnated into the fertilizer would be negligible (most times ml/100kg) and thus, add no real value. However, many processing plants have posted articles on their opinion on the value of liquid impregnation.
- No leave burn
- Can’t rebuild soil nutrient bank which is critical for soil health.
- Nutrients present may not compliment the soils/the crops nutrient deficiencies effectively
- If it’s not done right it can lead to caking of the fertilizer.
Dry incorporation: Dry micro-nutrient can be customized in form of homogeneous pellets and broadcasted with compound fertilizers. If chelated with the right chelating agent and in the right amount, micros can be placed with banded fertilizer to improve the absorption of nutrients.
- Better than liquid impregnation in supplying adequate amounts of micro-nutrients to the crop and the soil.
- Can help replenish the soil nutrient bank.
- No leave burn.
- If chelated, absorption of the micro-nutrients is enhanced.
- Can be applied without interfering with any foliar pass (passes)
- If formulated incorrectly, it can cause toxicity to the seed/soil.
Upon reviewing the pros and cons outlined above contact our Biochemist to discuss which option best suits your crop’s growing needs so as to add real value to your operation.
To be continued …
Nutrient absorption is the plants’ ability to “uptake” nutrients in the soil and use it for growing plant tissue. In this blog post we examine the plants’ nutrient absorption and ask the question – what if we can use science to improve nutrient absorption.
What is nutrient absorption?
Nutrient absorption is the plants’ ability to move nutrients from the soil into its roots and xylem for distribution to the plant shoots. Xylem is one of two types of tissues that transport nutrients and water to the rest of the plant. Phloem is the other type of tissue. Just like humans have a circulatory system that distributes nutrients and oxygen to the body, plants use xylem and phloem as their distribution system.
In plants, this process happens via a chemical and microbial interactions (silicon transport system)where a carrier from the plant binds with a nutrient ion in the soil and carries it up the membrane of the plant. The effectiveness of the plant roots in absorbing nutrients from soil depends on many factors including;
- genetic make-up of the plant itself
- the type of soil and soil characteristics
- human crop management practices
There are other factors not listed here, but the main point to remember here is that many of these factors can be controlled. Using scientific research and technological advancement we can alter the genetic make-up of the plant, which is likely to be the costliest option, or apply crop management practices that have a positive effect on soil characteristics which increases absorption by the plant.
Another method that plants absorb nutrients is through their leaves. Foliar feeding for example is a method of applying fertilizer to plant by spraying the leaves with liquid fertilizer. Plants are able to absorb, through the stomata, essential elements such as zinc and iron. Foliar feeding was proven to be effective in the early 1950s and has continued ever since.
Not only can growers understand the best method of application, but based on scientific testing and knowledge of plant physiology and function we can determine the best time to apply fertilizer. For example, foliar application is recommended when it is cooler (below 24oC) since heat can cause plants to close their leaves’ pores to preserve moisture and applying the fertilizer when it’s cool, will result in maximum uptake.
If you want to know more about how science and technological advancement can help enhance crop yields, contact us – we’d love to chat! If you liked this post, please share it.