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Dr. Jim Chan of Martinez, Calif. is a retired industrial chemist who has started using AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 on his orchids.
“I have been interested in raising orchids since I was a boy growing up in Singapore,” Chan said.
Chan, who considers himself an orchid hobbyist or enthusiast, owns a 40-foot by 40-foot greenhouse in which he raises several varieties of orchids. He grows several other types outdoors as well “I am also involved in hybridizing orchids, mainly cattleya orchids,” he said. Chan also grows approximately 100 fruit trees, including persimmon, pear, apples, plums and others.
Chan holds a doctoral degree in chemistry. His career includes research in pesticide chemistry, research as a lubricant chemist and tribologist at Chevron and adjunct chemistry professor at a local college.
“I had been using chemical fertilizers because this was the recommended, and only, way to fertilize orchid plants” Chan said. “Not many orchid growers use fish emulsion fertilizers, and there is a concern that fish emulsion promotes bacterial and fungal infestations. But using AGGRAND 4-3-3 along with an anti-fungal apparently eliminated possible bacterial and fungal infestations,” Chan said.
A friend gave Chan a sample of an expensive imported fertilizer from China to try. It was a fish emulsion formula that contained kelp and it worked well. Chan began creating it at home. However, it was difficult and costly to make himself.
Chan did the research and discovered AGGRAND natural fertilizers on-line. He made contact with the company and was referred to a Dealer.
“AGGRAND’s 4-3-3 fish emulsion interested me greatly. It is formulated with kelp, which would add an excellent ‘wetter-sticker,’ or surfactant-like, property to the product he said.
Last August, a friend gave Chan a dozen very large phalaenopsis orchids. “These plants were in very poor condition, and the potting mix had deteriorated,” Chan said. “The plants needed immediate re-potting.”
He cleaned the plants, cutting off almost all of the roots and re-potted them in clean bark. Within a few days, he sprayed them with AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer diluted to approximately .5 percent to 1 percent. “Typically, when transplanting mature phalaenopsis orchids, they experience transplanting stress and require some time before new roots are formed,” Chan said. “If chemical fertilizers are used the plants show chemical burns, resulting in desiccation of the leaves and roots, often setting back their growth and development. Experiencing this, we do not fertilize our newly re-potted plants until they are well established.”
Chan noticed during the following days and weeks after re-potting and fertilizing with AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer the newly re-potted plants did very well and put out new leaves as large as the original leaves. “This is quite surprising as the plants showed no shock or stress from re-potting.”
The orchids sent out new roots that were large and thick - which proved another surprise to Chan. “Some ingredient in the fish emulsion, kelp, or both, may have stimulated the newly-potted plants, protecting them from stress.” Chan will conduct further tests on his orchids in the spring using AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer and Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash. Chan’s tests will include comparison of foliar versus root, and foliar plus root feedings, to see which stimulates orchid growth best.
Walt Sandbeck, fertilizer specialist at AGGRAND, has recently been certified by the American Society of Agronomy as a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA). To attain this certification, Sandbeck passed an International CCA exam as well as the State of Wisconsin CCA exam, worked for nearly 10 years as a crop advisor and provided documentation of professional competence.
“Walt brings a high degree of knowledge and professionalism to AGGRAND,” said Chris Orr, AGGRAND business manager. “He is the front line of our Technical Assistance department and does a fantastic job supporting our customers with all of their growing needs.”
As a Certified Crop Advisor, Sandbeck will uphold the CCA Code of Ethics. This means his focus will be on grower profitability while optimizing and protecting natural resources in accordance with the code.
“Getting the CCA means I can start a directed study program,” Sandbeck said. “I had to pass both the International and Wisconsin CCA exams in the same calendar year to be qualified to submit my application initially.”
The certification comes with an ongoing education stipulation. “Now, I must accumulate 40 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) every two years, by attending/reading qualifying webinars, seminars, and magazine articles. The subjects covered will include nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management and crop management. Each of these disciplines dovetails on some level with my job as fertilizer specialist at AGGRAND.”
Research scientists at land-grant universities provide much of this cutting- edge training.
“More than 13 years of AGGRAND experience, coupled with Walt’s landscaping and gardening background and hard work passing the CCA exam, make it a natural fit for him to be a Certified Crop Advisor,” said Richard Holappa, AGGRAND research and development manager. “This milestone will be a definite asset to the AGGRAND business.”
The Certified Crop Advisor Program is administered by the American Society of Agronomy in Madison, Wis. CCAs are recognized by the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) as eligible to register as Technical Service Providers (TSPs). They provide assistance to farmers in protecting resources through conservation planning in soil and water, nutrient, crop and pest management. CCAs also are recognized as agricultural experts by the USDA Risk Management Agency which administers the Federal crop insurance programs.
More information about the CCA program and a CCA directory is available at www.certifiedcropadvisor.org.
AGGRAND natural fertilizers are increasingly popular as savvy consumers look for environmentally friendly products that enhance crops and soils.
One frequently asked question is, “How do I prevent sprayers from clogging?”
Clogging sometimes occurs because most sprayers have a bank of nozzles that distribute the material in droplet form and use screens to prevent contaminants from entering and plugging the orifice of the nozzle.
The screens increase the probability that AGGRAND products will clog the sprayer because their natural composition holds larger particles in suspension that may accumulate on the screens.
To ensure even and consistent application, AGGRAND recommends removing the screens and using spray nozzles designed for coarse or extra coarse droplet size. For specific recommendations consult our Product Application Tips page.
Glen Thomas of Pittsburgh, Pa. area developed a sprayer that helps him consistently apply AGGRAND products. He was inspired by the innovative design that is featured in our Product Application Tips page.
Thomas wanted a sprayer small enough to fit in his pickup truck, but still spray a wide swath. Loosely following the design he found on-line, Thomas developed a boomless sprayer with a 100-gallon tank. The design allows him to have one piece of metal coming off the trailer hitch of the pickup about 6 feet. “With the boomless sprayer I can spray a 60-foot swath,” Thomas said. “I can spray an entire hay field in practically no time.”
He uses TeeJet® nozzles that are more like a shower head with a number of openings, rather than a number of single-opening nozzles such as those usually used on a boom.
“That made it easy to use my truck to apply the products,” Thomas said.
Thomas said it takes time and effort to establish a business and offers to apply the products for new customers. “Any business is no overnight thing,” he said. “I use my sprayer as a tool to cultivate my business.”
AGGRAND recommends using a system that re-circulates the mixture while driving on the field. This helps maintain suspension of the product during application.
For smaller ATV sprayers, normal movement proves sufficient for mixing. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer and Kelp and Sulfate of Potash show the least amount of settling, while the Natural Bonemeal requires the most agitation to remain in suspension.
This product is a highly concentrated health food for plants, which makes it a no-brainer for savvy AGGRAND users. So, here’s some information we hope will make it another one of the must-have products in your AGGRAND stable.
AGGRAND developed Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash as a primarily potassium- and sulfur-based product for foliar applications and potassium supplementation.
Kelp provides growth hormones, trace minerals and potassium. When applied to wine grapes, studies show that kelp extract increases yield, disease resistance and wine quality. Sulfate of Potash provides a balanced source of potassium and sulfur readily absorbed by plants. Fulvic acid helps usher other nutrients into the plant via a process called chelation, and humic acid provides increased microbial activity in the root zone.
Plants need potassium to develop thicker cell walls and stronger stalks, helping to avoid penetration by fungal spores and insect mouthparts. This helps protect plants from disease and damage, both in the field and after harvest. Potassium also can be absorbed more readily through the leaf cell walls than the other macronutrients, and when combined with the sulfur in the Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash, creates an ionically balanced nutrient combination more easily used by plants in both root and foliar applications.
Sulfur is critical to nitrogen fixation and photosynthesis, and in the formation of proteins and oils, so it is important in the development of high nutritional value in legume forages like alfalfa and clover, as well as higher quality and extended shelf-life of fruits and vegetables.
What all this means for you is plants that are more vigorous, more tolerant of heat and drought (thicker cell walls) and more nutritious (better protein synthesis).
Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash can be mixed with water at a fairly low concentration (1 percent to 2 percent) and be quite effective. Plants can absorb nutrients up to 20 times faster through the leaf cuticle than through the roots, though in significantly smaller quantities; however, it is enough to promote a significant response.
Growers can either apply AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash on a calendar basis (every 2 weeks), or on the basis of the plant’s stage of development: first true leaves, bud-break, flowering, etc. Just check the AGGRAND crop or garden guide for the specific application. If you aren’t sure, apply bi-weekly for fast-growing plants or monthly for perennial crops.
A great method for foliar application of AGGRAND Kelp and Sulfate of Potash is using a hand pump or backpack sprayer. Just mix about 2 ounces Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash per gallon of water and soak as much of the leaf surface, top and bottom, as possible with the solution.
A new rule in 2011 that created the BioPreferred label to help consumers identify “green” products has grown to identify more than 500 products. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 is among those products.
On Jan. 20, 2011 the Federal Register published a rule from the USDA, - the Voluntary Labeling Program for Biobased Products. This rule created a label for biobased products that are certified by the USDA. It gives consumers and federal procurement personnel a reputable and verified source for ensuring the products they purchase are ‘green’. The label rule took effect on February 22, 2011.
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan revealed the products.“When consumers see the BioPreferred label in a store, they’ll know that the product or its packaging is made from renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials,” she said.
One year later, there are more than 500 USDA Certified Biobased products available, the label is beginning to show up on store shelves and help consumers make informed purchasing decisions, and companies have submitted more than 1,000 applications to date.
The future looks bright for biobased products, and consumers as well as federal procurement personnel have more choices than ever and more information to evaluate products when making decisions about purchasing ‘green’ products.
AGGRAND Fertilizer Organic Series 4-3-3 (OSF) is a multi-purpose liquid concentrate that promotes vigorous growth, increased root development and improved stress and disease tolerance in vegetables, fruits, nut trees and field crops.
“AGGRAND Fertilizer Organic Series (OSF) has been formulated from the ground up to meet the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program,” said Chris Orr, AGGRAND business manager. “This new 4-3-3 formulation is designed as the alternative to AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer (NOF) for certified organic growers. It has been reviewed by the Organic Material Review Institute (OMRI) for compliance with National Organic Program standards, and carries the OMRI seal identifying it as OMRI Listed.”
AGGRAND Fertilizer Organic Series recently became registered with the California Department of Agriculture Organic Input Material program.
AGGRAND Fertilizer Organic Series, like AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer, is an excellent all-purpose fertilizer that supplies critical nutrients to plants, while encouraging increased microbial activity and healthy soil.
AGGRAND recommends NOP-certified growers verify approval of their inputs with their NOP accredited certifying agent prior to use. AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash (NKP) also is part of the AGGRAND Organic Series and can deliver enhanced results when used with AGGRAND Fertilizer where appropriate.
AGGRAND Fertilizer Organic Series 4-3-3 is intended for use by commercial growers and is available in five-gallon pails, 55-gallon drums and 275-gallon totes. It is manufactured-to-order at the Superior, Wisconsin facility and is not stocked in distribution centers. Please call 1-800-717-1308 for product availability and to place an order.
1. “My soil lab says I need to put on 2 tons of limestone per acre. How much AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime does it take to equal that much lime?”
2. “How much AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime do I need to raise the pH of my soil?”
Neal Kinsey, the author of Hands-On Agronomy, puts it this way, “I never look at pH to determine when to lime or what kind of lime to use. I look at the deficiencies in the soil.”
If you were to try to replace two tons of limestone with AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime, it would cost more than $19,000 per acre. That’s not what Liquid Lime is for. It is a calcium supplement, intended to temporarily boost calcium levels in the root zone.
A typical recommendation for AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime is 2 gallons per acre per application, which places about 6 pounds of limestone in the root zone immediately, at a wholesale cost of about $30 per acre. Since bagged or solid limestone needs to be tilled under to be effective, a lot less effort is required to get that calcium to the crop, when AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime is used.
Now, you may think the amount of lime in 2 gallons of Natural Liquid Lime doesn’t amount to a whole lot. A 6-pound piece of limestone doesn’t cover a very large area. But, if you grind it into a powder, 6 pounds of powdered lime will kick up a dust storm that could hide a tractor. In short, limestone fine enough to go through a 325-mesh screen will go a long way.
So, naturally, we don’t recommend AGGRAND Liquid Lime for pH adjustment and we never have. One thing low pH most often indicates, though, is a calcium deficiency, and ultimately, it’s the deficiency that we’re addressing directly, not the soil pH.
When soil is described as nutrient ‘deficient,’ it means there simply isn’t enough in the soil to promote optimal plant growth. When we use AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime, we are actually responding to the calcium deficiency first and foremost, and adding enough calcium for the plant or crop to maintain satisfactory growth.
Kinsey also talks about the relationship between the grind or fineness of a particular limestone, and the speed with which it breaks down in the soil and becomes plant available. His benchmark is: If 60 percent of the lime will go through a 100-mesh (150 micron) screen, then, when applied in the fall, a third of it will be available next spring and for the following two years. But, what you get with AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime is 100 percent of the lime passing through a 325-mesh (44 micron) screen, which allows 100 percent of it to influence the soil and plant growth immediately. AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime can be applied during the growing season for quick soil and foliar adjustments.
AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime is primarily a source of supplemental calcium that can be applied on a regular basis (after cutting hay or grass, for example) to maintain optimal calcium levels in the plant root zone.
ORGANIC EARLY BIRD TOMATOES - These partially grown tomatoes were planted in May this year. AGGRAND natural fertilizers were used throughout the season.Doug Dunn of Antioch, California uses all of the AGGRAND natural fertilizers and gets great results with fruit trees and tomato plants.
The growing season in his area is long, from the beginning of March until November, and Dunn said he takes advantage of it. He developed his fertilization program focusing on improving the soil, which he said is calcium deficient. Dunn grows nectarines and golden delicious apples on dwarf trees. He also has an organic Early Bird tomato plant.
His AGGRAND program is as follows:
Foliar application of a mixture of 3 oz. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 (NOF), 3 oz. Natural Liquid Lime (NLL) and 2 oz. Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash 0-0-8 (NKP) to 2 gallons of water sprayed every two weeks from Feb. 15 to April 1.
“I went heavy on the Liquid Lime because the local soil is calcium-poor,” Dunn said. “The Liquid Lime has made a big difference; I have very few yellow or dead leaves. This program has kept the leaves from getting brittle and there are no holes in them. I’ve had very great success.”
Along with an initial batch of organic mulch, Dunn applied the same mixture to the circular, brick-protected soil around the fruit trees every two weeks from March 1 to May 1. “I’m getting robust results,” he said.
TOMATOES IN MID-SEASON - Tomatoes thrive with the AGGRAND fertilization program, in July 2012.The partially grown Early Bird Tomato plant received one-half bale of organic mulch and a mixture of 8 oz. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer, 8 oz. Natural Liquid Bonemeal 0-12-0, 8 oz. Natural Liquid Lime and 4 oz. Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash in 5 gallons of water in the transplant hole. This plant received water daily, and every two weeks a foliar application of a mixture of 1 oz. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer, 1 oz. Natural Liquid Lime and .5 oz. Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash in 1 gallon of water from early April to early May. From early April to mid-May, a mixture of 3 oz. of natural fertilizer, 3 oz. of liquid lime and 2 oz. of kelp and sulfate of potash in 1 gallon of water was applied to the soil around the tomato plant.
Since late May, Dunn has foliar-fed the apple and nectarine fruit trees, tomato plant and other non-food plants as follows: Every two weeks in the late evening, a mixture of 2 oz. Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash to 2.25 gallons of water spray. Every six weeks, he applies 2 oz. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer and 1 oz. Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash in 2.25 gallons of water.
From June 1 onward, the soil application of AGGRAND products to the apple and nectarine fruit trees and tomato plant is as follows: Every two weeks, a mixture of 2 oz. AGGRAND Fertilizer, 2 oz. Liquid Bonemeal, 2 oz. Liquid Lime, and 1 oz. Kelp and Sulfate of Potash to 2 gallons of water.
Jake Gembe of Dover, Pennsylvania used his success with AGGRAND natural fertilizer to convince his step-father to try it.
“My step-father was a die-hard commercial fertilizer user,” Gembe said. “I used AGGRAND myself for the flowerbed and loved the outcome. As a result, I told my step-father about AGGRAND fertilizer and he agreed to use it.”
Harvest time came and went. “He told me later that year that he planted three zucchini plants and was amazed by the plant growth,” Gembe said. “He said he took 75 zucchinis from the three plants. In fact, he could not use or give away anymore so he had to let the rest rot. Now he is a firm believer in AGGRAND.”
Texas American Quarter Horse Association cutting horse champion Gary Lord from the Dallas Fort Worth, Texas area gets great results using AGGRAND fertilizers. An AGGRAND Dealer worked with Lord at the L-Spur Ranch throughout this growing season to produce quality hay for competitive horses.
This is the first year Lord has used AGGRAND products and he increased his production of Coastal Hay by two fold.
“I got a little over twice the yield this year, I have just a little over twice as much hay in my barn,” Lord said.
Using a foliar application rate of one gallon of AGGRAND Natural Liquid Fertilizer 4-3-3 per acre in early spring and then supplementing the hay between cuttings with one gallon of natural fertilizer, one-third gallon of Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash and one half gallon of Natural Liquid Bonemeal per acre produced double the amount of bales this season.
Lord has been growing hay and pasture for 40 years and has tried many competitive products both granular and liquid. “This product works,” Lord said.
“Considering that the hay and pasture grown in this area of the country are grown on non-irrigated ground, dependent on rain for irrigation and we had a drought year to boot, AGGRAND products performed very well,” Lord said.
Lord and his wife, Rene, have trained horses, raised livestock, farmed in both central California and Texas and owned several ranches. Both were raised and lived in the agricultural community all their lives and know agriculture well. They know quality animals and they know farming. They’re supplying quality hay with a quality cost effective product.
Phosphorus (P) is an important component of the energy transfer system in plants, and is important to photosynthesis, respiration and cell division.
Taking advantage of the AGGRAND Soil Analysis Program using the AGGRAND Soil Sample Kit is the best way to determine how much phosphorus your soil needs, and how much AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal (NBM) to apply. AGGRAND natural bonemeal contains more than 12 percent total phosphate, with 8 percent to 9 percent immediately available to plants. It should be applied when the crop needs it, or just before. The remaining 3 percent to 4 percent phosphorus is slow-release, attaching to the soil colloids, and becoming available through weathering and microbial breakdown.
Typical commercial phosphorus fertilizers like diammonium phosphate (DAP) 18-46-0 and superphosphate 0-20-0 are highly soluble, and a major contributor to high concentrations of phosphorus in runoff from agricultural applications, including over application of manure and leaking from liquid manure holding ponds. These excess nutrients are washed into lakes, streams and rivers, and eventually, into bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico. The nutrients then feed the endemic population of algae, which creates algal ‘blooms,’ or large population explosions of algae. When the algae die, they settle to the bottom, and begin to decompose, using large amounts of water-dissolved oxygen in the process.
This process is called eutrophication, and leads to a condition called hypoxia, or oxygen-depletion, rendering the affected area unable to support aquatic life, and creating a ‘dead zone.’ One of the world's largest dead zones is located in the Gulf of Mexico which is the recipient of the nutrient runoff from the Mississippi River watershed.
Natural bonemeal is most often applied in the spring, as a transplant aid, when soil phosphorus isn’t as readily available because of cool soil temperatures. Natural bonemeal is ideal because it is fine enough to penetrate into the top 6 inches or so of the soil, where it can be broken down and made available to plants through microbial activity by a process called mineralization. Natural bonemeal is an excellent addition to the spring fertility program for lawns, flower gardens and vegetables, by providing usable phosphorus into the plant early, leading to improved root, flower and fruit development.
AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal can be tank mixed with AGGRAND natural fertilizer and natural kelp and sulfate of potash with good results. We would not generally recommend tank mixing both the bonemeal and the liquid lime for two reasons:
1. Both products are high-particulate, high-density liquids, so agitation or recirculation would have to be excellent to assure a good mix solution with both.
2. Liquid bonemeal contains 12 percent phosphorus and about 8 percent calcium (Ca), so an application of the natural liquid lime (10 percent Ca) can be redundant. Generally, applying either natural bonemeal or natural liquid lime is sufficient to satisfy the plant’s short-term calcium requirements.
Hassan Yarpezeshkan is the owner/grower of a 480-acre pistachio orchard in central California. This year, Yarpezeshkan and a local AGGRAND Dealer teamed up to produce an extraordinary crop of pistachio nuts.
“Application of AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash at the right time produced a 30-percent increase in total yield,” Yarpezeshkan said. Based on past production in these trees, that are between eight and 20 years old, AGGRAND demonstrates its benefits in conventional farming with great results.
“Further soil sampling this fall will give us a good idea of what other AGGRAND products we will use this fall and in the spring,” said Yarpezeshkan. “The trees look very good, and I would say the natural kelp and potash made the difference.”
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.