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Soil pH – The Foundation for Nutrient Availability

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Every nutrient's availability is affected by soil pH.

Soil pH is the foundation and main governing parameter of soil fertility. Every nutrient’s availability to plants is affected by soil pH – some more so than others – which is why correcting and maintaining soil pH at adequate levels is so important.

Phosphorous (P) availability is the most affected nutrient by pH because the chemistry of P is such that it loves to react with other minerals in the soil at varying pH levels. At high pH, P is very attracted to calcium, while at low pH, P is very attracted to aluminum and iron. When P reacts with calcium, aluminum, or iron, it forms insoluble compounds that plants cannot easily access.

Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) are also affected by pH, but not in the same way as P. At low pH, aluminum and iron increase in availability and “out-compete” nutrients like N and K in the soil, leaving N and K susceptible to leaching from the soil profile.

Maintaining proper pH protects fertilizer investments.

With the substantial investment made on N, P, and K fertility programs, it is easy to see why maintaining appropriate pH is paramount to protecting fertilizer investments. Further, crops need sufficient access to these nutrients in order to obtain maximum yield and further return the investment growers make on these important nutrients.

Our philosophy is that soil pH should be corrected and then maintained with yearly or every-other-year, lower rate applications to avoid the pH rollercoaster that can occur with 4- or 5-year aglime application regimens. Our product, 98G, is a pelletized lime that corrects and maintains soil pH. It’s easy to apply and works well in variable rate application programs.

By measuring and managing soil pH, you are ensuring that growers are set up for a high-yielding crop and fertilizer investments are being put to work.

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Don't be a More-on

Nationally recognized high yield soybean grower Ray Rawson once said “Don’t be a moron and think you get high yields by putting more-on.”

If 100 lbs of K is good 300 lbs is better, right?

I have had a number of farmers ask me at shows, “How much fertilizer do I need for this crop?”
Many are confused when I tell them, “I don’t know, do you have a soil analysis?”
Many reply with “No I haven’t.”
It really floors them when I tell them, “Without a proper analysis nobody can make an accurate recommendation.”

Not enough N, P & K is generally not your most limiting factors.* Making those nutrients and the 13 others available to your plants is. When was the last time a full soil analysis was taken on your farms?

With the price of N, P, and K going through the roof and continuing out of this world, does it really make sense to base your nutrient recommendations on 10-year-old information, how about 2-year-old information?

If your consultant makes a fertility recommendation without a proper soil analysis, fire that salesman, and find a proper consultant. With today’s input prices you cannot afford to work with someone that does not know how to read a soil analysis and make proper recommendations.

Did you know that adding sulfur makes your nitrogen work more efficiently? Having enough calcium in the right ratios helps to reduce nitrogen volatilization and leaching. Adding a high quality EDTA manganese when spraying glyphosate can reduce soybean “flash” and reduces stalk rots in corn. Low or high pH reduces availability of fertilizers, and decreases nodulation.

Don’t be a more-on, take proper soil samples, provide your crop with the proper amount of nutrients in the right amounts, and take more yield to the bin.

 


*If your thinking weather is your most limiting factor, you might be right. That is out of your control, but proper plant nutrition is not. Even in poor weather, properly managed crops will always out yield poorly managed crops.

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Calcium, more than just pH

It is true that NPK is used in greater percentages than calcium, but calcium is used more by weight and volume than any other nutrient. Calcium is rarely considered as a nutrient at all, only as a soil buffer to adjust pH.

Calcium should be considered the most important nutrient, and more than simply just a tool to move the pH scale. It plays a major role in the physiology of the plant, strengthening its physical structure, increasing nutrient uptake and protecting from disease. The importance of calcium in the soil, includes; the reduction of soil compaction, increased water infiltration, and helping to provide a better environment for the proliferation of beneficial bacteria. Some research even suggests that calcium plays a role in weed populations. To associate calcium only as a buffer of pH is agronomicly ignorant.

Calcium Benefits
Calcium neutralizes soil acidity
Improves soil structure and quality
Prevents soil crusting
Reduces soil salinity
Reduces erosion and phosphorous loss
Improves water penetration
Promotes root development
Calcium stimulates growth of ""soil life"", including nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
Every plant needs calcium to grow
Calcium helps create a healthy environment for your plants
Only nitrogen and potassium are required in larger amounts by plants
Once fixed, calcium is not mobile in the plant
It is an important constituent of cell walls and can only be supplied in the xylem sap
If the plant runs out of a supply of calcium, it cannot remobilize calcium from older tissues
If transpiration is reduced, the calcium supply to growing tissues will become inadequate
Calcium is found in many minerals in soil, but is relatively insoluble.
A common misconception is that if the pH is high, adequate calcium is present
High levels of other cations such as magnesium, iron, sodium, and potassium can increase pH
Plant available calcium determines the uptake of all other nutrients into the plant
It is the carrier of all other nutrients to the plant
As calcium content in the plant drops so can the protein, mineral and energy levels of the plant
Calcium is not considered a mobile nutrient, but can leach with excess nitrogen
Over fertilization of nitrogen and potassium will reduce calcium availability
High potassium levels reduces the uptake of calcium
You will usually find an increase in all mineral levels in a plant following the correction of low calcium
Calcium plays a critical metabolic role in carbohydrate removal.
Calcium neutralizes cell acids
Study after study shows calcium at the optimum level will decrease disease in most plants
Yield, quality, taste, shelf life and disease resistance are all functions of good calcium uptake

SuperCal SO4 and SuperCal 98G are great sources of calcium. Our pelletized processing makes it easy to add calcium to your dry fertilizer program. See your local dealer or give us a call to see how easy it can be to reduce input costs, and increase yields.

 

 

The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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Maintained by our team of experts, we have a wide array of blog articles from our experts and guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming and growing tips, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

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