CUT FERTILIZER AND CHEMICAL COSTS
Sustainable approaches can save conventional growers money on fertilizer and chemical bills. Research by Universities, Independent Companies and USDA has proven this to be a fact. The scare tactics used by vested interests regarding yield/income losses have been shown to be false.
SAVING MONEY ON P: PHOSPHATE
With MAP and DAP selling around $450/ton and higher, growers are looking for relief. Sustainable Ag offers at least 4 ways to cut phosphate costs without losing yield and maybe even increasing it.
Switch to natural phosphate sources costing about $5.00 per unit of P2O5 instead of $9.00 per unit. Tennessee Brown phosphate is a mined phosphate offering an average of 23 percent P2O5, with an immediate availability of up to 0-12-0. TN Brown also offers the advantage of not tying up with soil calcium and contains a very broad spectrum of valuable trace minerals important to soil microbiology. With the cost so low, many growers apply 400-600 lb/A or more, knowing they can then use this initial application for several years.
Use molasses as a stimulator of the phosphatase bacteria that release tied up phosphate in soil and make it available to your crops. Typical rates are 2 gallons/A in about 20 gallons of water. Molasses is compatible with most liquid fertilizers and chemicals. This can be applied any time of year and can be repeated 2 or more times. Molasses can also be used in row at ¼ rates.
Increase the mycorrhizea fungal organisms in your plant root zone. These organisms dramatically extend the root surface available for nutrient absorption and aid in the transfer of phosphate into the root. Microorganism products can be applied and/or mycorrhizea stimulants such as Soil Restore can be used.
Use small amounts of in row liquid phosphate fertilizers as pop-ups. This can assure immediately available phosphate in poor conditions such as cold, damp soil. Using high quality multiform phosphate liquids, such as Pro-Germinator 9-24-3, guarantees plant access to P2O5 throughout the growing season.
For optimum results, apply TN Brown Phos to soils reading very low or low to bring them up to medium to high levels of P2O5.
SAVING MONEY ON K: POTASH
Conventional farmers currently depend of large amounts of N and K to produce growth. This method automatically increases the need for herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. The real growth element is Calcium as contained in lime, gypsum and other specialty calcium sources. Once calcium is available to a crop, along with phosphate, the need for N and K go down. So there are several ways to cut K costs.
Add calcium and phosphate in the appropriate forms and then activate them using carbohydrates, enzymes and/or bacterial products. Switching to Ammonium Sulfate as part of your N and S sources will also help activate your calcium. Other calcium activators include a variety of liquid calcium products and a dry form called GSR Calcium.
Release more K from your clay colloids. KS Plus - 0-0-7-15S-1Fe - is a unique mined product that helps to open up clay releasing K, as well as containing some K and S within the product. The S is unique in the KS Plus in that it is in multiple stages of oxidation, such as SO3, SO4 or SO5 – not just SO4 – which makes it very efficient in uptake and utilization as well as knocking Magnesium off sticky clay soils better that just SO4 forms as found in Gypsum.
SAVING MONEY ON N: NITROGEN
There are at least FIVE ways to save money on N.
Add carbohydrates [sugars, molasses, yucca,] to any liquid N. Typical rates would be 2 gal/A molasses, 5 lb/A table sugar or 1 pint/A yucca. You may need to add some water to 28% type liquids if using dry sugar. This practice stimulates microbes to eat the N and then release it back to the crop over time as the crop has need of N. This program cuts down on the serious problem of N losses into the ground water or evaporation into the air.
Use legume cover crops in your rotation. There are suitable types for use in all areas and climates in the US. Then remember to account for the N provided the following year when calculating N needs.
Use natural, stabilized forms of N alone or in conjunction with smaller amounts of chemical N. Natural forms include manure [not really well stabilized], compost [very stabilized] or liquid fish hydrolysates. CSI recommends always using some fish in the row with liquids as it contains protein nitrogen, a vary stable N form which feeds both the plant and soil biology. When your crops experience stress, they will selectively use the protein N and stop using either nitrate or ammonia forms that require them to use plant energy to process those forms, You may also broadcast fish hydrolysates at several gallons per acre. Fish provides you with N and defense against plant stress due to drought, excess water, heat or cold. Anyone think they aren’t going to get some plant stress conditions in the next few years?
Increase your humus levels. Every 1% of humus releases 30-40 lb of N for your crop each year. A 3% OM soil provides about 100 lb of FREE N every year.
Use best management practices. These include side-dressing and foliar feeding. Side-dressing liquid N solutions with carbohydrates and sulfur assure maximum efficiency of use and minimum environmental losses. Foliar feeding of urea is extremely efficient. 3-5 lb/A of urea in water solution with fish, seaweed extracts, sugar, trace minerals can give a dramatic boost to crops at many stages of growth or reproduction.
Sustainable management practices can save you money, activate your soils so your crops can utilize the minerals that are already there and, through soil balancing, reduce weed and insect pressures thereby cutting your chemical costs by reducing the need for them.
Call CSI today – 800-260-7933 – for more information on affordable products and conversions to sustainable methods mentioned above.