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 …
What does soil health mean?
Soils across Canada and indeed the world vary in what they are made of and how they interact with the environment around them. The soil type is often influenced by the local climate, organisms, type of sediments etc.
The term soil health generally refers to the relationship that the soil has within itself and with the surrounding environment. For example, soils are made up of biological, physical, and chemical components. All of these components interact together to form the basis for soil health and soil management.
In crop growing, most people can see and refer to the plant as being “alive” but consider that the same things that make the plant a living thing also make the soil “alive”. This means that soil health is extremely important as the interactions of all the soil systems determine the success and eventually the crop yield.
How does the soil system work?
Here are some basic soil functions that could be managed to ensure it supports plants growth;
Regulating water – the type of typography of the soil plays a large role in where water flows and how much is absorbed and made available for plants.
Neutralizing pollutants – the physical and biological components of the soil play a vital role in decomposing and degrading organic material as well as detoxifying inorganic pollutants that may have landed on it.
Physical support – soils “hug” the roots of the plant and provide stability for the plant to grow.
Cycling nutrients – in previous posts we discussed macro and micro nutrients. The soil’s ability to cycle and restore nutrients is an important function. In today’s crop growing systems, soils do not have the ability to regenerate these nutrients as fast as we need them to – this is why fertilizers are used. Find out why custom fertilizing is crucial for growers and the environment here.
Life support – Lastly but definitely not least, soils sustain life. They provide nourishment and foster diversity in plant and for animals.
Balancing these soil components to ensure optimal health for the soil is sometimes referred to as soil health management.
Impact on Growers
As you can imagine soil health has a huge impact on growing crops. Since soil health varies from different areas, it is crucial that soil management practices are developed and adapted to local soil conditions. One of the first steps to doing this is soil analysis. Accurate and reliable soil analysis results will form the foundation of good soil health management.
Hopefully you found this post helpful. If you want to know more about your crop nutrient needs, contact us – we’d love to chat!
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