Calcium Products - Glen Howell
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Glen Howell

Glen Howell

Dr. Borlaug we owe you our thanks

I (Glen) learned on Sunday that Dr. Norman Borlaug had died after a long battle with cancer.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/business/energy-environment/14borlaug.html

Dr. Borlaug, who was widely credited with saving hundreds of millions of people from starvation, upended conventional wisdom among scientists of his era both by the way he created super strains of wheat that have since spread across much of the developing world, and by proving that the world’s harvests can grow faster than the human population. His breeding techniques are now routinely embraced by the world’s biggest seed companies and by some estimates have created billions of dollars of crop value. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Growing up as an Iowa farm boy, there were several people that I used as example, including Roswell Garst, Henry Wallace & Norman Borlaug. All were great people, but Dr. Borlaug did it on a huge scale & taught me that perseverance will overcome. 

Our world continues to need all the food we can grow, and to use it all efficiently. Dr. Borlaug taught me that production efficiency and environmental quality go hand in hand. 

Thank you, Dr. Borlaug.

 

 

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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Tomatoes, 2009

I (Glen) eagerly look forward each year to enjoying the summertime treats.  Sweet corn and tomatoes head the list of my favorites.  However, with this year's cool summer weather, there has been a delay in enjoying the bounty. 

An article in the Des Moines Register, talks about a delay in arrival, but suggests there will not a decrease in quality or taste.

I am hesitant to agree.  Our garden at home is filled with tomato plants ( I spent most of Saturday caging them with woven wire for containment & more support), and the plants are huge.  Many of them are at least 4' tall.  If you look really close, there is a 55 gallon drum, standing on edge, underneath the sprinkler.

I have also observed the onset of calcium deficiency, also known as blossom end-rot.  I have broadcast SO4 in 3 separate applications this year, but intentionally omitted 2 plants.  These plants are showing symptoms of deficiency (water soaking on the fruit & leathery looking leaves).

My conclusion?  Many plants, including tomatoes, are growing more slowly this year.  Quality will also be affected, but having adequate nutrient availability (calcium) will help mitigate this.

 

 

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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Onions & SO4

Take care when applying SO4

I (Glen) decided last week that our garden was needing some calcium.  The soil structure had declined considerably since earlier this spring, and it was becoming difficult to till (hoe).  I was also wanting to increase the quality of the potatoes and reduce the onset of blossom end rot in tomatoes.

Thursday evening I applied SO4.  It was very difficult to get between the rows of potatoes, so I top spread the area, and then turned on the water for 2 hours.  Friday morning, my wife harvested some onions, which were near the potatoes, and was surprised that she couldn't stand to eat them.  She also couldn't stand to cut the tops off of more than 2-3 at a time without tears. 

Conclusion: the sulfur level in the onion had increased significantly.

Lesson learned & a very evident (tearful) demonstration of the solubility of SO4.  In this case, less than 12 hours & 0.4" of water were sufficient for the product to break down & be taken up by the plant.  If you have plants that you don't want to more pungent (radishes, peppers), please take care when applying SO4.

 

 

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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The Fertilizer Divide

Have you heard about the climate divide?  That is a term sometimes used to describe the differences in energy use & the associated greenhouse emissions, between the United States and countries like sub-Saharan Africa.  A reference article on climate divide: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/02/health/02iht-climate.1.5109623.html

The term fertilizer divide is being used to describe the differences in fertilizer use between countries.  In a report published in the June 19 issue of Science, China is specifically chided for using too much, according to Peter Vitousek, a professor of biology at Stanford University and senior fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment.   Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/su-shm061609.php

"Some parts of the world, including much of China, use far too much fertilizer," Vitousek said. "But in sub-Saharan Africa, where 250 million people remain chronically malnourished, nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrient inputs are inadequate to maintain soil fertility." 

In the report, Vitousek and colleagues compared fertilizer use in three corn-growing regions of the world-north China, western Kenya and the upper Midwestern United States.  The area in China used 525 pounds of nitrogen per acre (588 kilograms per hectare) annually in growing corn.  200 pounds per acre (227 kilograms per hectare) of excess nitrogen is released into the environment.  By comparison, Kenya only used 6 pounds per acre (7 kilograms per hectare), in a 2004 study. 

Statistics show that from 2003 to 2005, annual corn yields in parts of the Midwestern United States and north China were almost the same, even though Chinese farmers used six times more nitrogen fertilizer than their American counterparts and generated nearly 23 times the amount of excess nitrogen.

So why is the United States' farmer always the bad boy of fertilizer use?  Sounds to me (Glen) like China deserves more scrutiny & Kenya deserves more support. 

 

 

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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