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Official results of the inaugural AGGRAND growth plot experiment are now available in the AGGRAND 2010 Vegetable Productivity Study white paper.
“The idea was to perform an on-site experiment to determine if the AGGRAND fertilization program would outperform a leading inorganic chemical fertilizer in a home garden application,” said Richard Holappa, AGGRAND research and development manager.
The new document provides detailed technical information for comparison between AGGRAND fertilizers and an inorganic chemical fertilizer.
“The AGGRAND fertilization program outperformed the plots fertilized with the leading inorganic chemical fertilizer and the control plots where only water was applied,” said Holappa.
The growth plot study gives potential and current AGGRAND consumers empirical data on four vegetables — tomatoes, green beans, potatoes and sweet corn.
The growth plot study details the process from building the growth plots and planting seeds and plants to fertilization rates and methods. Tables, photos and charts document harvest comparisons for each of the crops.
“The plot receiving the AGGRAND fertilization program realized increased vegetable yields over the leading inorganic chemical fertilizer, and in some cases produced larger crops,” Holappa said. “In addition, after one growing season, the soil had more nutrients remaining when compared to the other two plots. Longer-term work will be conducted to determine soil fertility trends.”
Now that the growth plots are established, AGGRAND will continue to conduct research and development of AGGRAND products to ensure they are the best.
Holappa and Fertilizer Specialist Walter Sandbeck were not surprised by the results.
“Walt and I use AGGRAND products in our personal gardens with excellent results, and we know they are safe and environmentally friendly, too,” Holappa said.
INFORMATION CENTER - The new weather station installed in the AGGRAND growth plots transmits all of the pertinent information to this console and is archived electronically.
In conjunction with ongoing growth plot studies at AGGRAND, a weather station has been installed to further enhance the scientific nature of the results.
“The weather station is essential in monitoring temperature, relative humidity, rainfall and wind speed and direction during the growing season,” said Richard Holappa, research and development manager. “This spring we will install soil temperature and moisture sensors in each plot to ensure each growth plot is treated equally. This supporting weather and soil data is typically used in research.”
WEATHER DATA TRANSMITTER — These photos (above and right) show the weather data transmitter installed in the AGGRAND growth plots.
The new AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime (NLL) formulation incorporates pure calcitic limestone. The improved formulation boasts an average particle size 600 percent smaller than the previous formulation and nearly doubles the available calcium. Because calcium plays a critical role in overall plant nutrient uptake, it should be part of any longterm fertilization program. In fact, approximately 90 percent of the soil analyses received by AGGRAND need calcium. In addition, the new formulation’s suspension agents reduce product separation for longer shelf-life.
Popularity of AGGRAND Natural Liquid Fertilizers continues to grow along with the expanding market for natural and organic foods.
“I am finding a growing interest in AGGRAND products,” said Allan Magee of Kuna, Idaho. “More and more, farmers, lawn care companies and individuals are more conscious about the environment and want to be better stewards of the land and provide a more natural source of fertilization. AGGRAND is a perfect fit for those wanting a more natural or organic approach to fertilization.”
Savings is another reason farmers increasingly seek AGGRAND products, Magee said.
“The AGGRAND products are very cost effective as compared to synthetic chemical fertilizers, especially with rising fuel prices,” Magee said. “When farmers realize they can fertilize for as little as $20 an acre per application and get just as good if not better results than with chemical fertilizers it definitely piques their interest.”
“The bulk of my AGGRAND sales are through my commercial accounts and Dealers,” Magee said. “AGGRAND Natural Liquid Fertilizer 4-3-3 is by far the best-selling product, but I am seeing more and more orders for the Natural Liquid Lime (NLL) in areas of the country with acidic soil conditions. The liquid lime can be used in much smaller quantities than powdered agricultural lime but effect the same results in plant growth and nutrient uptake.”
Rick Harris of Lamar, Colorado is a commercial account of Magee’s. Last year, Harris raised sunflowers on 500 acres southwest of Lamar.
He applied 1 gallon per acre of Natural Liquid Fertilizer 4-3-3 with a boom sprayer and flood-jet nozzles before planting.
“We could tell the difference the day after we applied the fertilizer,” Harris said.
Last season was the first time Harris used AGGRAND fertilizer. “We like AGGRAND because it’s all natural. Chemical fertilizer kills all the microbes, and you don’t want to do that,” he said.
Sunflowers typically contain about 38 percent oil. The higher the oil content, the more valuable the crop. “Our sunflowers had an oil content of 45 percent,” Harris said. “We were really happy with what we got.”
Harris bought 10 totes of AGGRAND 4-3-3 for this year and applied it to the 4,000 acres he farms that includes several different commercial crops.
AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 has gained certification into the USDA BioPreferred Program.
Under the USDA program, products are considered biobased if they are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients - renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials.
Products certified in the program carry a label icon that helps consumers make informed choices. The icon is easy to recognize and consumers can have confidence in the label because claims about the presence and amount of biobased ingredients are third-party certified and strictly monitored by the USDA.
“We’re happy to see the USDA BioPreferred Program has added this new consumer-focused labeling initiative,” said Chris Orr, AGGRAND business manager. “With the meteoric rise of the National Organic Program in recent years products marketed as ‘natural’ have taken a lot of bad press, and some products may be deserving of it. Independent ASTM certification of 100 percent biobased content confirms our AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 is what we’ve always said it is – a natural product made from renewable resources.”
AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 contains 100 percent biobased materials, according to ASTM 6866 standardized testing recently completed.
The “USDA certified biobased product” icon will soon appear on AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 marketing material. This icon means the product meets USDA standards for the amount of biobased content, and information about the product can be found on the USDA BioPreferred Program web site www.biopreferred.gov.
The core goals of the USDA BioPreferred Program first were introduced in the 2002 Farm Bill:
• To spur the development of the biobased industrial base through value added agricultural processing and manufacturing in rural communities
• To enhance the nation’s energy security, by substituting biobased products for fossil energy based products derived from imported oil and natural gas
• To reduce the nation’s environmental impact by promoting products that may be more benign to the environment.
This new 100 percent biobased product certification is another benefit of using AGGRAND Natural Fertilizers.
HAY FIELD PREPARATION - Landowner Don Mahalak applies AGGRAND Natural Fertilizers to the field in Poplar, Wisconsin that will be used in the AGGRAND Hay Study this summer. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 was applied at a rate of approximately 2 gallons per acre, with Natural Liquid Bonemeal 0-12-0 applied at the rate of about 1.5 gallons per acre.Farmers and gardeners across the country are involved in the 2011 growing season. Likewise, AGGRAND personnel are preparing for the new growth plot study.
AGGRAND remains committed to creating a library of scientific evidence of the quality of the AGGRAND Natural Fertilizers. AGGRAND installed a weather station and monitor last fall (see the 2010 Winter issue) and recently installed soil moisture and temperature sensors that are part of the weather station system. They monitor soil temperature and moisture to determine optimum planting conditions.
These components supply the data to insure all growth plots are watered at the same rate and time and each of the plots is treated under the same scientific protocols. The data from these plots will be archived to evaluate trends over a number of years.
Photos on this page show early preparations for spring 2011 at the AGGRAND growth plots in Superior, Wisconsin and the experimental hay field in rural Wisconsin.
MEASURING FOR DEPTH - AGGRAND assistant Casey Lutz measures the depth for the moisture and temperature sensors installed in the AGGRAND growth plots, part of an ongoing project by AGGRAND to scientifically document AGGRAND performance with a variety of crops at the company’s facility in Superior, Wisconsin.
SENSORS UNDER THE SOIL - AGGRAND assistant Casey Lutz works to set up the line between the monitor and the moisture and temperature sensors that are implanted 12 inches below the surface in the growth plots.
Northern Wisconsin this year is experiencing a delayed spring, with night time temperatures still near freezing in early May. Regardless, of geographic location, spring is the time to plant a wildlife food plot.
Wildlife food plots enhance the habitat by providing a variety of plants for consumption, as well as necessary cover for smaller animals and birds. A wildlife food plot offers a source of food in a concentrated area so animals do not need to forage over large areas.
The presentation provides a broad overview of the steps and benefits of food plots fertilized with AGGRAND Natural Liquid Fertilizers, along with embedded video clips that demonstrate specifically how to establish a food plot.
American consumers are increasingly savvy about the dangers of chemicals in food, potential problems with genetically modified crops and the impact of chemical fertilization on the environment. That growing awareness has led to an explosion in sales and use of organic or natural products.
The Chicago Tribune reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture found more than 30 unapproved pesticides on cilantro samples.
At least 34 unapproved pesticides showed up on cilantro samples analyzed by the USDA as part of the agency’s routine testing of a rotating selection of produce. Cilantro was the first fresh herb to be tested in the 20-year-old program, according to the article.
“We are not really sure why the cilantro came up with these residues,” said Chris Pappas, a chemist who oversees the Virginia based USDA pesticide testing. “Researchers suspect growers may have confused guidelines for cilantro and flat-leaf parsley, for which more pesticides are approved.”
This isn’t the first bad news for cilantro. In March of this year, the FDA issued a guidance letter to the industry to “take action to enhance” the safety of cilantro, indicating Salmonella has been cited 28 times since 2004 in cilantro.
The cilantro results have captured the attention of both regulators and industry leaders, according to the Tribune article.
“I can assure you that some of these will be followed up,” said Ronald Roy, a food safety specialist at the FDA. “When we have a clustering of non-permitted residues around a certain (crop) or with a certain grower, then we investigate to find the cause and correct the specific problem so that it doesn’t continue.”
Scientists, industry representatives and regulators interviewed for the Tribune story say the cilantro test results should be addressed but also note that most Americans — and especially American kids — don’t eat a lot of cilantro at a sitting.
Pappas, the chemist who oversaw these rounds of USDA pesticide testing, reportedly said he grows his own cilantro and individuals who are concerned about the pesticides found in the herb sold in stores can do the same.
AGGRAND Natural Fertilizers offer a natural solution to consumers who want to know exactly what is in or on their foods. Consult the AGGRAND crop guide or the gardening guide to learn more about how these natural fertilizers can help consumers grow more fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs.
Brussels sprouts look like tiny cabbages, ¾ to 1 inch in diameter when ripe. Unlike cabbages, they grow in whorls around a 3 -to -4 foot tall main stem, which can yield dozens of mature sprouts over the course of the season.
Brussels sprouts mature about 4 months from seed, and should be planted so that they can be picked after the first frosts. They are very frost-tolerant, and can be picked through December in most areas, and right through the winter in the south.
Pick firm, well-formed sprouts starting at the bottom of the main stem. The upper sprouts will enlarge and ripen continuously under a canopy of kale-like leaves.
Brussels sprouts like an irrigated, fertile soil with a pH above 6.
Fertilize with AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime and Natural Liquid Fertilizer 4-3-3 when the first true leaves appear, at the rate of 3 ounces each per gallon of water per 10-foot row. Repeat every two weeks until sprouts begin to form, continuing with liquid fertilizer biweekly until cool weather slows production.
AGGRAND application rates and experiences featured here have been submitted by sources independent of AGGRAND. Your experiences may vary. Optimal application rates can vary due to soil condition, crop type, weather patterns and many other factors. AGGRAND recommends and supports soil analysis to determine optimal application rates.