CSI Grower Grazier Newsletter – August 2011

Letting Nature Supply All Your Nitrogen Needs

Human activity is affecting planet earth to such an extent that natural scientists are naming this time the beginning of a new geological age/epoch called Anthropocene (the recent age of man) and ending what was the Holocene epoch (about 17,000 years ago to present). We are no longer observers of nature, but significant influencers of what is happening to nature. The sheer weight of humans and their livestock is now bigger than the earth’s wild animal population and there are more trees on farms than in wild forests. Our activities are rapidly increasing the amount of CO2 in the air. That is an established fact, the effect of which is the only thing in dispute, i.e. will it get warmer or cooler and will we be wetter or dryer?

Although growers usually help to absorb CO2 by growing crops, their improper handling of crop residue or improper feeding of livestock can add the CO2 back to the air. However, farming’s bigger polluting effect concerns nitrogen. Plants have always used N from the air by a variety of natural methods. Now the rate we are taking N out of the air is 50% higher than what nature has done for millions of years. Most of this industrial created N is used for fertilizer. Taking N out isn’t really the problem; it is the later consequences that matter. Chemical N leaches into the aquifer. We are all familiar with ocean “dead” zones where the oxidized N and P have fed algae blooms that starve aquatic life for oxygen and the concept of “Blue Babies” that occurs when excess nitrate in the water causes babies to turn blue from lack of oxygen in their blood.

nitrogenSo, as growers, we must do our part in mitigating our impact on natural systems by taking every opportunity to use naturally occurring N and cease use of industrially created N. There are five main ways we can get the nitrogen we need to grow our crops without resorting to manmade N. The good news is that you will be raising healthier, more valuable crops in the process of using nature’s supply of N.

One of nature’s original methods of building available N is with N fixing plants called Legumes. Legumes can be anything from small white clover to large shrubs and trees. They all have the ability to take N2gas out of the air that is circulating in the soil and use a biological/chemical process to fix the N2into ammonium ions. There is a micro-organism called rhizobia that establishes itself inside the root nodule to complete the process. Since each legume may have need of a different rhizobium it is best to buy the inoculant that matches it the first time you use that particular legume. If you are not farming conventionally/chemically, the organisms will usually survive and you will not have to keep buying new inoculum for the repeated crop. Amount of N fixed by a given legume varies widely, but 30-60 lbs/A is common.

The legumes usually need the trace mineral molybdenum to make the process happen efficiently. Hopefully, you all remember to dig up your legume of choice, carefully cut open the visible nodule on the root and check its size and color. The larger the nodule, the more the fixation potential. The darker the pink, purple or maroon the more molybdenum you have in your soils to make the process work. If you have dull grey nodules, you need to add some molybdenum. The easiest, least costly way is to use fish, seaweed and ocean liquid or dry products that contain traces of “Molly B” on a regular basis.

Nature’s second process of supplying N involves free standing micro-organisms called azobacter or azotobacter that don’t have to use a root nodule to change the Ngas to ammonias and other important compounds. They basically absorb the N2 gas and poop out ammonias and the other compounds. The other compounds are very significant, including amino acids (the building blocks of protein): Glutamic, Methionine, Tryptophane, Lysine, and Arginine. This means your plants are receiving N in a form that they can use without expenditure of valuable internal energy that can be used for increased production. Azobactor also produce vitamins B-1, 2, 3, 5, 6 & 12. In addition, the phytohormones Indole Acetic acid, Gibberellic Acid and Cytokinis are produced. If you add up the cost of buying all the compounds separately, CSI’s line of Blooming Blossom azobactor products are a real bargain. Conventional farming kills off these organisms and robs the grower of what amounts to free N and a whole slew of growth factors. CSI’s Blooming Blossom product line contains dozens of azobactor strains for your soil. Thanks to a technology breakthrough, the NutriFoliar product in that line contains stabilized cyst forms of Azobacter that can operate on a leaf surface to produce (poop) ammonias and all the other compounds for uptake by the plant. The amount of N produced in the soil and on the leaf is conservatively listed at 40-50 units/lbs per acre per application. The azobacter can also deny surface space to disease pathogens. (Believe it or not, “good” nematodes are also great ammonia poop factories.)

The next major natural source of N is from the waste products of livestock. Stable manure will also contain urine, so now you have ammonias, nitrates, urea and some protein N. Much of this can be wasted if manure is not handled properly. Manure pits are the most common treatment/process that seeks to save/stabilize the N. However, without peroxide, biology and carbohydrates added to aerate & fix the N, much of it is lost and odor is a problem. Composting is the best way for sustainable growers to handle manure as the composting process, when done properly, kills pathogens, stabilizes the N and other nutrients, increases microbial activity, and creates other valuable enzymes, hormones and growth factors. Generally compost is used at 1-2 ton/A providing 14 – 28# N (cow) and/or 60 – 120# N (poultry) the first year.

There are several ways to preserve more N from your manure when composting. Adding clay improves moisture retention and increase aggregation. Adding KS+, a natural mined acidic mineral, at the beginning of composting (or better yet, at the source of the manure) stops N volatilization, kills pathogens, and reduces odors very quickly, and creates better amino acids for easier uptake by plants.

Composters in the “know” are also blending in natural mined major minerals and trace minerals to make custom composts for their clients. CSI ships semi-load bulk minerals to their sites for blending. If your compost source isn’t providing that kind of service, please ask them to contact CSI to learn more.

The fourth way to get N for your crops is to use a protein by-product: blood, feather meal, cotton seed meal or fish products. CSI’s Organo Fish comes from harvested “junk” fish. Our fish is not part of the human food chain. Protein nitrogen is composed of amino acids which are available for direct use by a plant without the use of internal plant energy to process them. Comparing protein N to industrial produced N is complex. First, usually about 80% of the applied chemical N is lost either up (volatizing) or down (leaching). Second, research shows that the protein N in fish is equivalent to about 5 times the amount of remainingchemical N. Simply put, 100 units of chemical N winds up being 20 units used by the plant and that 20 units of chemical N has the equivalent effect of only 4 units of fish protein N.  The added efficiency of protein N from fish comes from the additional microbial stimulation of “good guys” like azobactor. 5 gallons of Organo Fish will get you the same result or better than 400 lbs or 40 gallons of 28%.

CSI’s Organo Fish (4-1-1) has the highest protein and highest dissolved solids available in a liquid fish product on the market. It is shipped throughout the US, Canada and several foreign countries including Costa Rica.

The 5th natural source of N for our crops is from recycling previous years’ plants into humus. Humus is the product of plant residue broken down by micro-organisms. You can build your humus levels through cover cropping and proper handling of crop residue. The humus building process is greatly enhanced in biologically active soil. Humus is produced as either active or passive factions from the plant residue. The active faction feeds your next crop, while the passive faction builds long term humus levels. The usual figure for the amount of N released by humus is 40 lbs per % of humus per year. To be on the safe side, CSI uses a figure of 30 lbs per percent of humus. Research shows that large amounts of chemical nitrogen do stimulate microbes to eat plant residue, but the carbon volatizes instead of forming humus. Another vital and positive side effect of microbial N vs chemical N is that mycorrhizea has a much better chance to do it’s job of producing glomalin (long lasting carbon compounds) which is a major factor in soil flocculation and enables plants to access N from the air.

Keeping in mind the usual rule that says it takes a pound of N to produce a bushel of corn, let’s see how much N we can come up with using sustainable methods. We will assume you properly incorporated your crop residue with carbohydrates and bacteria and added protein N if the residue was brown. You will also plant a mixed legume, grain cover crop to take down next spring. Your current humus reading is only 2.5%. N sources and amounts for next years corn: Humus (30 lbs x 2.5 = 75# N); Crop Residue (30-40# N); Legume plow down (30-60# N); 5 gal Organo Fish (22# equivalent N); 250 ml Bioplin in the row (40-50# N); Sidedress Organo Fish and Bioplin and/or foliar NutriFoliar & Organo Fish (10# N); “A few good nematodes” (10# N). And it all adds up to (75 + 30 + 40 + 22 + 40 + 10 + 10 = 226# N [low end] or 267# N [high end]). Add more to that number if you spread raw manure or compost this fall or next spring. SEE? You have enough N to grow at least 200 bushel corn without one pound of manufactured N!

Meanwhile, you haven’t added nitrates to ground water, killed off any of your beneficial microbes or burned out your humus with artificial, costly processed N. Please break your High N addiction now! Make sure you handle this year’s crop residue correctly, plant a cover crop and get ready for a non-chemical N spring of 2012.

HOW PLANTS WORK: We have previously talked about how plants “signal” the micro-organisms in their root zones by extruding carbon based compounds from the roots. Scientist have now measured parts of this process and claim about 66% of the energy/sugars produced by the photosynthetic process ends up being exuded to influence microbes in the root zone. They also discovered that the type of extrudate changes as the plant goes from growth to reproductive stages. This reinforces Dr. Ream’s concepts of plant manipulation and our concepts of mineralization and microbial stimulation for optimum plant health and production.

FULVIC ACID: Studies indicate that fulvic acids tend to stabilize fertilizers in wet conditions. CSI usually recommends our Water Mineral product when applying boron to the soils to help prevent boron leaching. Since about 99% of tests coming through our lab show moderate to severe shortages of boron, your recommendation may include Water Mineral, a great source of fulvic acid. We recommend this under wet or dry conditions. CSI doesn’t know whether you will end up using boron in liquid or dry form, but we think that if you broadcast the Water Mineral in water, along with other recommended liquid materials, it will help hold the wet or dry applied boron. For maximum chelation, I prefer Sol-U-Bor, the common soluble powder source available in most farm outlets. Borax (soap) is also soluble in water.

CELL PHONES, RADIATION AND CANCER: BACK IN THE NEWS. On May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that experts have concluded the cell phone radiation may cause a specific type of brain malignant cancer called glioma. They also emphasized the importance of protecting the rapidly growing brains of the young. The same reasoning can be applied to all types of electronic devices that can transmit electromagnetic radiation to the brain, including microwave ovens, regular portable home phones and other Electro magnetic device.. Please take steps to protect yourself, your children and grand children. Keep active emission sources away from the body and put Cell Guard Chips on all hand held communications devices as well as desk top screens, laptops, readers, etc. CSI has a good supply available in stock at $40.00 including shipping. They make great gifts and can be transferred from one device to the next. We also carry the whole house treating Tainio Concerto units that cover about 4000 sq ft for $550.

BLOOMING BLOSSOM PRODUCTS: This line of nitrogen fixing products – Bioplin, NutriTech and NutriFoliar – has had a tremendous burst of sales this year after reported successes on field crops last year. It is also thanks to a new distributor, Dan Juneau of Juneau Sales, who is doing a great job of introducing the products to his network of contacts in many parts of the US. Neptune’s Harvest, our friendly competitor fish company, has also started handling the Blooming Blossom line based on their customer’s 2010 crop responses. The strange weather has also played a role in giving organic growers options for “rescue” of yellowing crops. The Blooming Blossom line is available in 250 ml (1-2 acres) or 1 liter (4-8 acres) and 5 liter (20-40 acres). This year, the 1 liter and 5 liter sizes had to be special ordered and prepaid. Next year will see some 250 and 1 liter size in stock and 5 liter with prepaid orders for spring, but please, please, please let CSI or your dealer know as early as possible next year what your needs will be.

BLOOMING BLOSSOM PRODUCT SALE: On Jan.1, 2012 we will all see a 6% price increase on Bioplin, NutriTech and NutriFoliar. CSI will discount customer prepaid orders 10% off 2011 prices IF PAID FOR by Friday, Nov 18th, 2011. Beat the price increase and get a discount too!

OUR POWDERED MINERAL PRODUCTS: We are very pleased with the response to our “powdered/ suspendable” minerals that also contain herbs, microbes and food sources and their crop performance. CSI will be continuing that line next year. In addition, a true “soluble” line will also be available, but to do this a few fibrous “goodies” will have to be left out. IF you have learned to properly handle the “suspendables”, we urge you to stick with them. A greater variety of sizes will probably be available for your convenience.

FALL IS THE TIME TO MINERALIZE: Sharpen your pencils, get soil tests done if needed and get your mineral levels up to par. Too many tests coming through our lab are still low in Boron & Zinc. Fewer are coming through with low Phosphorous and Sulfur, but still significant. How did your crops and livestock take the heat in July? Aside from the water issue, sulfur makes a big difference in the ability of both to handle heat.

JANUARY 2012 SEMINARS: Watch for announcements in Acres or email Blasts for our annual 3 day seminar held in Grand Rapids, MI on Jan 10,11,12, 2012. DVD’s or MP3’s are available from the 011 seminar. Buyers have reported excellent audio and video quality. Prices are: DVD-$450, CDs-$395, MP3’s-$275. FOB. All include handbook.  One attendee emailed to us following the 2011 seminar; “I have experienced many conferences in my career and can honestly say that this was one of the best. The amount of information was heavy but it was delivered in a way that made it easy to comprehend.” Hope to see you there!

TESTIMONIALS: “Strawberries are best ever!! Lost everything during the 2 weeks of rain but the suggestions earlier were applied and the berries are coming on and are delicious – sweet for the first time. Maybe they will last a little longer since it is cooling for a few days. I am working with Charles on the blue berries now for a dozen plants that turned yellow. Ken (Used a variety of products including powdered minerals.)

“Where my growers used TN Brown Phos their P levels were strong 2 & 3 years later. Where they used MAP & DAP they needed more every year.” Bob Boehle, Brookside Consultant

COSTA RICA & THE SOUTHWEST: We are continuing to ship Organo Fish to Costa Rica. Dr. Phil we be visiting our distributor there in late Sept. to introduce them to more of CSI’s great products. Phil and Louisa will also be heading to OK, TX, NM, LA and (?) around Nov. 1. Call if you want a swing by visit.

SEE YOU AT ACRES CONF.: Dec 8-10 @ the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, OH Call 800-233-1234 for Res.

SAVE A TREE – GO WITH EMAIL:  Email us your name, address and email address and we’ll email you a link to our next newsletter. Thanks.

THANKS TO ALL OUR LOYAL CUSTOMERS! CSI continues to have a large # of growers who come back to us each year. CSI also gets calls from many new growers who find their way to our doorstep. Hope you have a great harvest season. Dr. Phil, Ron, Louisa & Sue