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AGGRAND News Winter 2013

AGGRAND application rates and experiences featured here have been submitted by sources independent of AGGRAND. Individual 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.

Exploring Unusual AGGRAND Applications

With Walt Sandbeck – AGGRAND Fertilizer Specialist

 

In the course of talking to many AGGRAND Dealers and customers, there have been application discussions that get filed under the category of “other” because they don’t fit into the commonly discussed items like fertilizing requirements of apples, corn and tomatoes.

 

If you’ve asked for AGGRAND recommendations on corn, food plots, hay, lawns, tomatoes or wheat, the AGGRAND Crop Guide supplies a general recommendation (especially with a soil analysis) in just a few minutes. Those are nice, but what happens when there is an inquiry about an unusual or “specialty” crop? Uncommon crops such as almonds, aronia (chokeberry), orchids, pistachios and sunflowers have been covered in past issues of AGGRAND News and provided information for Dealers and customers.

 

I've been asked about fertilizing palm trees, olive trees, chestnuts, pomegranates, walnuts and everything in between. All of them want to know why their respective applications are not included in the AGGRAND Crop Guide.

 

If AGGRAND receives enough inquiries about a fruit, plant or crop, it might very well become part of the next version.

 

In fact, the next printing will likely include at least three often-discussed crops: alfalfa, blueberries and walnuts. The recommendations will be based on a combination of testimonial results, research into the crop’s nutrient requirements and results with AGGRAND fertilizers on similar crops.

 

Occasionally, questions reflect a secondary characteristic of an AGGRAND product. Many people have asked if AGGRAND natural fertilizer (NOF) works as a compost accelerator. By virtue of its ability to stimulate the soil biology, it is wholeheartedly recommended for compost activation at a low dilution rate, about 1 percent, with water. It doesn’t need to be applied at fertilizer strength, which is 3 percent to 4 percent, to stimulate microbial activity.

 

Sometimes, enough anecdotes about a particular use for a product, sparks a recommendation from AGGRAND as well, with the caveat that the results are derived from testimonials and not research.

 

A few of these unique applications appear to work for many folks:

 

AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer (NOF) drives away moles, gophers and fire ants when applied to lawns.

 

AGGRAND Natural Liquid Lime (NLL) helps get rid of dog-spots and moss in lawns.

 

AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal (NBM) works well for phosphorus (P) in living plant walls in urban areas.

 

One anecdotal use we felt would not be effective is using Natural Liquid Lime as an outhouse lime, we are pretty sure full-strength dry lime works best.

 

Probably the most interesting application request ever for AGGRAND has been in the production of truffles.

 

Apparently red clay soils in the Piedmont area of North Carolina are very similar to the soils on which black truffles are grown in their native France. The request was for AGGRAND Liquid Lime, but not for application to the truffles, rather for application to the roots of their host plant, hazelnuts.

AGGRAND Hay ‘Like Candy to Them’square baler organic alfalfaFIRST CUTTING - Don Mihalak harvests hay in his field in rural Douglas County, Wis. in summer 2012.

AGGRAND customer Don Mihalak owns and operates the farm in rural Douglas County, Wisconsin where he first worked with his father. He grows hay for cattle and a small amount of wheat for his family on about 30 acres. He also sells hay to a few local horse and cattle farmers.

 

Mihalak, who retired after operating his own excavating business, farms mostly to provide for his family, he said. “We’re not making a big living at it but we enjoy it and it’s nice to provide for yourself.”

 

His wheat is used to make homemade breads for the family, and local people buy it from him because it’s organic, he said.

 

Mihalak has worked with AGGRAND personnel to study the effects of AGGRAND natural fertilizers on hay since the fall of 2009. Before that he used only manure as fertilizer.

organic hale bales, organic alfalfa, READY FOR THE BARN - These hay bales are ready for storage to use to feed cattle raised on the Mihalak farm in rural Douglas County, Wis.

The study area is roughly 5 acres split into two plots — a control plot that receives no fertilizer and a plot fertilized with AGGRAND products in accordance with results of soil analysis and the AGGRAND Hay and Pasture Guide. The soil type is silt-clay-loam of the Amnicon-Cuttre complex.

 

AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer (NOF) was applied on May 10 at a rate of 2 gallons per acre, along with Natural Liquid Bonemeal (NBM) and Natural Liquid Lime (NLL) at a rate of 1 gallon per acre. The first hay cutting was done on June 23, followed by an application of Natural Fertilizer and Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash (NKP) on July 13 at the rates recommended in the AGGRAND Crop Guide.

 

The second cutting took place on Aug. 11. “The cattle prefer the second crop,” Mihalak said. “The AGGRAND hay is like candy to them.” The second crop is more tender and grassy and has more clover, Mihalak explained.

 

“This was a good year,” he said. “We had a 10 percent to 11 percent increase in yield.”

 

Higher Feed Value for Fatter Cattle

Not only did the AGGRAND field produce more hay, the relative feed value (RFV) increased. RFV is a measure of feed quality and is commonly used in the marketing of livestock forages, especially alfalfa hay. Higher feed value means more nutrients are supplied to the animals with less feed and that saves money and increases the quality of the livestock.

 

According to lab analysis, the relative feed value of the AGGRAND fertilized hay measured 16 percent higher than the non-fertilized study area.

 

Mihalak said his cattle thrive on the AGGRAND fertilized hay. “The higher feed value makes the cattle fatter and happier,” he said. “They seem to be doing very well.”

 

Using AGGRAND products on the fields continues to improve soil quality from year to year. “I totally trust the AGGRAND products,” Mihalak said. “It’s organic and is increasing the nutrition in the soil. I think it’s great. I’m totally satisfied with AGGRAND products.”

Broadcast spraying natural fertilizer on organic hay, alfalfa field

AGGRAND FERTILIZATION PROGRAM - Don Mihalak fertilizes the hay field that is part of an ongoing comparison study for AGGRAND natural fertilizers.

AGGRAND News Spring 2013

Your Call is Important: What Happens When You Call

With Walt Sandbeck – AGGRAND Fertilizer Specialist

 

Our job is just beginning when we hang up the phone. Since I have to be ready to answer AGGRAND Dealers and customers questions in a fairly quick and efficient manner, I keep several useful pieces of information at hand for quick reference. AGGRAND Dealers could keep these same items handy when talking to customers.

 

1 AGGRAND Crop Guide: (G2793)

2 AGGRAND Garden Guide: (G1292)

3 AGGRAND Soil Fertility Guide: (G2792)

4 AGGRAND Wholesale Price List: (G2742)

5 AGGRAND News Index, by crop: Don’t have one? Make one.

6 Put these in the front of your AGGRAND Literature Kit (G1380) for easy reference.

7 A link to Midwest Lab’s website for current pricing on soil analysis packages

 

Common questions are about what specific AGGRAND product to use and how much to apply. When I find out what crop the person wants to fertilize, I go to the Crop or Garden Guide for a standard recommendation. If I have a soil analysis in hand, I may consult the Soil Fertility Guide to generate a recommendation based on nutrient levels that may differ somewhat from the Crop Guide standard, but are applications and amendments that help with overall soil balancing. At this point, I’ll fine-tune the recommendation for that crop and soil so an accurate cost estimate can be made.

 

Servicing Dealers are the initial crop consultants. Dealers can make pretty good initial recommendations based on the information at their disposal. They can generate a ballpark estimate for cost per acre and hold the customer’s attention before contacting AGGRAND.

 

Let’s say you wanted cultivation information on a less known crop such as Pawpaw. What AGGRAND products are you supposed to put on a Pawpaw tree? The first thing we do is find out where it grows, if we don’t already know. We then search for a site on the web that references research done locally or cultivation recommendations from a county or university extension in that area. Once we find out their timing and/or application recommendations, we can begin to figure out how AGGRAND can fit into the mix: best times to apply; most important nutrients; soil conditions we need to generate a good plant response, and recommended conventional or organic fertility programs.

 

When a person calls in and asks for AGGRAND recommendations, I ask if they have a current soil analysis, so I can see the balance of nutrients, and what the starting point of a fertility program will be. I’ll then tell folks to fax or email it to me, or occasionally, just run down the nutrient levels on the phone. If this customer has low soil calcium, I might recommend the Natural Liquid Lime (NLL), at about a gallon per acre, say, for hay. Didn’t you say hay and pasture?

 

That was the old crop? You’re growing blueberries this year? Well, hold the Liquid Lime, then, and let’s look at the organic matter….

 

It happens fairly often that a soil analysis comes to my email from Midwest Labs, as it’s supposed to, but there’s no indication of what the crop is. The numbers are there, and I can sometimes extrapolate a crop from the field I.D., like “south 10” or “back field.” Of course, if I assume it’s for pasture, I’m bound to find out later that it’s a cornfield or raspberry patch; so, yes, please indicate the crop, and make sure a phone number or email address or ZO number is included.

 

Reading soil analysis results from different labs gets tricky because there is no standard format. Most labs give most of the information Midwest does, but many labs don’t routinely test for organic matter and cation exchange capacity, and some use a different calculation for base saturation. I end up working with less information about a soil than I’d like. Many labs state their soil nutrient levels in pounds per acre, while some labs leave out nitrate levels and even calcium and magnesium — the conventional nutrient management system is so fixated on nitrogen- phosphorus-potassium… NPK, NPK!

 

When there’s too little information about a soil, AGGRAND Manager Richard Holappa and I work out a sensible application. Sometimes we consult the USDA Web Soil Survey.

 

Then we use a soil map to determine a type of soil most likely to work for that area, which helps refine our recommendation.

 

The Organic Series Formula 4-3-3 (OSF), has garnered a lot of interest from certified organic growers. Since these folks use the organic series as one part of a sustainable soil fertility program, I’ve found it useful to consult with the EOrganic website. It offers videos and webinars on organic crop management, including tillage methods, cover cropping, weed control and a lot more. It’s very useful for illuminating the different disciplines that make up organic agriculture. If it seems as though the more you know, the more you need to know, that just might be the way it’s going to go, but we’re here for you.

AGGRAND Customer Creates Thriving Vegetable Businesstomatoes servive during the drought of 2012DURING A DROUGHT - AGGRAND customer Melvin Reeves of Springville, ID credits AGGRAND fertilizers for his thriving tomato plot during the drought of the 2012 growing season.

 

“I’ve got my dad’s green thumb,” said AGGRAND customer Melvin Reeves of Springville, Indiana.

 

He has turned that green thumb into a prosperous specialty supply business. Reeves grows a variety of produce for farmers’ markets and some specifically for the chef at a restaurant near his home. He does it with greenhouses so he is able to grow throughout the year.

 

“Business is growing so much, we can hardly keep up with the demand,” Reeves said. “The winter market really picked up this year.”

 

The 2012 growing season brought the worst drought Reeves had ever seen. He irrigated his plants from a big tank with 1,000 gallons of water a day. “I just kept using AGGRAND fertilizers and went right through the drought,” Reeves said.

 

He follows the recommendations of the AGGRAND Gardening Guide and applies AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer, Kelp and Sulfate of Potash, Liquid Lime and Bonemeal. On occasion, Reeves may add some alfalfa meal, blood meal or fish meal and some egg shells, he said.

 

“I love (AGGRAND) because it can be a foliar feed,” he said. Until last year, Reeves had never used the foliar method of feeding plants. He discovered his cherry tomato plants produced fruit much earlier when he fed the plant leaves with AGGRAND fertilizers.

 

“I’m always tickled to death to see what the plants look like,” Reeves said. “As soon as the plants have two leaves, the true leaves, I start shooting them with the natural fertilizer.”

 

He plants a rainbow of specialty produce that includes heirloom tomatoes of several varieties, cucumbers in an array of colors, tiny onions, dinosaur kale, fennel, celery, beets, collard and mustard greens, baby carrots, bok choy, and several varieties of cabbage.

 

There also are different colored beans and potatoes, too, he said. “Anything that has got a lot of colors in it also has a high antioxidant content,” he said. Reeves has four greenhouses and expects to add another next year. “We never shut (the greenhouses) down,” Reeves said.

 

He carefully plans the crop rotation and constructed the greenhouses to get the greatest benefit from the sun. The greenhouses lay fallow from August through September to “give ‘em a rest.”

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes Flourish With AGGRANDTomatoes growing near Madison WI. Tomatoe plants thrive with natural fertilizers.

AGGRAND customer Joan Horinek of Madison, Wisconsin has been growing plants for 51 years, “ever since I first got married,” she said.

 

She uses AGGRAND natural fertilizer in a light mixture from the time the plants are first started throughout the growing season. Horinek always applies the AGGRAND mixture near the roots for added strength and to feed the entire plant, she said.

 

This year is her fourth year using AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer. “At first, I tried one or two (quarts), but now I buy a case or more for all of the vegetables I grow,” Horinek said.

 

She has a stand at the end of her driveway where neighbors come to buy luscious tomatoes and other vegetables. Sometimes they even put in orders for what they want, she said. Horinek also sells some of her tomatoes to a local restaurant. The currency is in meals, she said. She brings in tomatoes and she gets a free meal every once in awhile.

 

She usually starts her tomato plants from seeds in April and transplants them outside as soon as temperatures are above freezing at night. “I want to eat my tomatoes in July, not September,” Horinek said.

 

Horinek tends her gardens with lots of attention. She makes sure they get a lot of water, typically trickling it through the rows from a hose. “I fertilize them once a week,” she said. She usually cans between 100 and 200 quarts of tomatoes each year, Horinek said.

 

She also grows a variety of onions, lettuce, spinach, green beans, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, cucumbers, beets and carrots. “I grow everything we like to eat,” she said. “I only buy meat. Everything else is natural and we grow it.”

 

She and her husband, Ernie, own a cabin in northern Wisconsin where they use AGGRAND fertilizer on their lawn.

 

“If we don’t get up there to mow the lawn regularly, it’s amazing,” she said. “It’s so thick and green, and grows like crazy. It looks lovely all summer long and into the fall.”

USDA Quarantine Requires California AGGRAND Customers to Use New Lab for Soil Analysis

 

 A technician at Denele Analytical in California looks through a microscope.DENELE ANALYTICAL - A technician at Denele Analytical in California looks through a microscope. California customers can use this lab for soil analysis to meet USDA requirements.California AGGRAND customers are required to change soil analysis laboratories because of a federal quarantine of soil and plant materials in that state.

 

The USDA implemented the quarantine to combat the spread of a highly contagious pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, which causes sudden oak death (SOD). The quarantine means that soils/plant materials cannot travel out of the affected area. According to the USDA, a number of counties in California are infected.

 

Midwest Laboratories, located in Nebraska, can no longer accept or analyze soil samples from these quarantined California counties. Hefty fines are possible from the USDA if these quarantine procedures are not followed.

 

AGGRAND recommends California customers use the highly-respected, full service Denele Analytical for soil and plant material analyses.

 

Since the early 1990s, oaks and tanoaks have been dying in the coastal counties of California. Since then, other types of plants have been found to be infected or associated with this disease, referred to as leaf blight or dieback. Phytophthora ramorum is the pathogen that causes these diseases. Sudden Oak Death was first reported in 1995 in Mill Valley (Marin County) on tanoak.

AGGRAND News Summer 2013

Golden Gate Park Flourishes With AGGRAND FertilizersGreater San Francisco Bay Area Park, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Golden Gate bridge

 

When people visit Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, they’re walking on lawns fertilized with AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer. (NOF)

Dealer Greg Johnson registered the account about a yea rand- a-half ago after giving a sales presentation to grounds keeping staff.

 

AGGRAND Fits For All the Right Reasons

The presentation showed park staff that AGGRAND fertilizers are a perfect fit for all the right reasons, Johnson said.

 

“Park staff saw that AGGRAND fertilizers are cost-effective, easy to apply and get better results than chemical fertilizers,” Johnson said. “Most important, AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer is approved USDA Bio Preferred. With AGGRAND being non-chemical and meeting California State Compliance criteria as a product that is not harmful to humans, habitat and ecology, we had a winner. The use of AGGRAND essentially eliminates any questionable adverse effects to human, mammalian, avian and fishery populations in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area Park as opposed to high-chemical, nitrogen-based fertilizers.”

 

Protecting the Water Supply

California has the strongest environmental protections of any state in the Union. Water and its quality are always on the agendas of agencies and action groups concerned about quality of life, economic security and environmental protection.

 

According to EPA and the California Dept. of Health, a high concentration of nitrates are turning up in the water supply, which is a big problem.

 

Nitrates are most commonly used in fertilizer. Once taken into the body, nitrates are converted to nitrites, according to information on the California Dept. of Health website. The major sources of nitrates in drinking water are runoff from fertilizer use; leakage from septic tanks, sewage; and erosion of natural deposits.

 

Fields Stand Up to Heavy Demands

Park managers were seeking a natural fertilizer that would incorporate environmental protection into their fertilization program and help develop stronger root systems in the grasses.

 

“The polo field gets extremely heavy traffic on weekends, sometimes up to 50,000 people and more at concerts and other venues,” Johnson said. “Compaction here is a problem with vehicles, equipment and people. The golf greens get heavy traffic as well.”

 

The lawns take a beating during these events and park managers need lawn care products that help the grasses recover quickly, Johnson said. The AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer formula helps strengthen the root systems of the grass.

 

AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer stimulates microbial activity in the soil and provides essential macronutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in a ratio of 4-3-3.

 

Park service personnel spray AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer on the lawns at a mix ratio of 3 percent fertilizer per gallon of water.

 

“AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer made a significant difference in color, vigor and growth and provided the nutrients that the many other competitive pellet applications could not,” Johnson said. “In fact, it prompted park staff to add AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal 0-12-0 (NBM) to their fertilization program.” roses, rose garden,

 

Roses Thrive With AGGRAND Bonemeal

AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal 0-12-0 (NBM) is a concentrated liquid formula containing readily available phosphorus (P). It promotes root development for faster-growing, healthier plants.

 

The phosphorus material in the AGGRAND formula is finely ground and provides fast- and slow-release phosphorus, which allows it to become available to plants in a short time and spread more deeply into the plant root zone more quickly than coarser products.

 

The fast-release phosphorus in AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal makes it an excellent foliar feed application. Applied as a starter fertilizer, it offers readily available phosphorus during early plant development, with more becoming available throughout the growing season. rose gardens, roses, roses in bloom

 

An application of AGGRAND bonemeal mixed with the organic fertilizer was used on the roses - the pride of Golden Gate Park.

 

“The head grounds keeper said the mixture so improved the health of their roses that they attribute a better than 80 percent decrease in fungal disease,” Johnson said. The Park location on the California Coast gives the roses approximately four hours of direct sunlight a day and this contributes to the fungal problem.

 

Huge Park Draws Millions Every Year

Golden Gate Park is rectangular like Central Park in New York, to which it is often compared, but Golden Gate Park is 20 percent larger.

 

It covers more than three miles east to west, and about half a mile north to south. With 13 million visitors annually, Golden Gate is the fifth most visited city park in the United States, and is part of the National Park Service. It covers more than 1,000 acres and is a vacation destination for its spectacular scenery and historical attractions, as well as many other activities and special events.

AGGRAND Quality Control:

What it Means to Us, What it Means to You

By Walt Sandbeck - Fertilizer Specialist at AGGRAND

 

When we talk about quality control (QC) and shelf-life with respect to AGGRAND, we’re referring to two facets of the same stone.

We initiate QC measures in formulation and manufacturing that enable us to make a predictable product with specific physical characteristics. By defining the parameters of those properties, we establish a baseline for comparison.

 

Key Areas for Quality Control

There are several key areas where QC enters the process: formulation, blending, filling and packaging. First, the raw materials - the fertilizer ingredients - have to be tested. You’re familiar with some of those: bloodmeal, condensed fish solubles and sulfate of potash. A sample of each of these has to be sent to Midwest Labs to ensure that its nutrient and chemical analysis falls within the narrow set of parameters required so that each batch of Natural Fertilizer turns out the same as the last. For example, the bloodmeal has to have a specific nitrogen analysis, and the sulfate of potash must have specific values for potassium and sulfur.

 

the best organic fertilizer on the marketThe ingredients for the new Organic Series 4-3-3 (OSF) undergo the same scrutiny, with an interesting exception. AGGRAND Organic Series, as you may already know, uses soft rock phosphate as a major source of phosphorus. Rock phosphate is a mined mineral that is rather granular, like table salt, though much of it is a pretty fine powder. It isn’t a very uniform material, and it’s too coarse to use in a product that might be run through drip systems or used in field sprayers. So AGGRAND uses a milling unit that can grind the rock phosphate to uniform particle size. Now, each batch of phosphate rock used in a blend of the organic fertilizer is milled to a powder, of which less than 5 percent passes through a 200 mesh screen. Those tolerances are checked manually in the AGGRAND lab before the ingredient is added to the organic blend.

 

Every Batch Gets a Three-Point Analysis

Once the blend is produced and a batch number assigned to it, a sample comes to the lab for a three-point analysis. Every batch is tested for pH, density and viscosity. Each of these values has a desirable range, so if any of the numbers fall outside of that range we take a second look at the batch.

 

As an example, if the pH is off, we’ll check batch volume or plumbing to make sure the correct amount of water was added. If the density is off, we’ll check water supply again, or appropriate addition of the major ingredients.

 

Next, the viscosity tells us whether the ingredients have mixed and coalesced the way they were supposed to. We then take a small portion of that batch sample and send it to Midwest Labs for a complete fertilizer analysis, in order to confirm that Natural Fertilizer or Organic Series Fertilizer 4-3-3 is actually a 4-3-3.

 

Every Batch Has a Tracking Code

Finally, it’s time to package, and to make sure it’s easy for a Dealer or customer to report difficulties. For tracking purposes, AGGRAND products sport a seven-digit batch code corresponding to the batch number and the day of production.

 

If a person reports a problem with any AGGRAND product, we ask for the batch code and check our lab sample, which we keep for a year. If it looks normal, we are more likely to suspect a storage or equipment issue.

 

In any case, AGGRAND quality control gives us the ability to make sure you spend less time on the phone with me, and more time growing. So by all means, get out there and grow something good with AGGRAND.

AGGRAND News Fall 2013

Organic Producers Fetch Premium Prices,

Build Healthy Soil

 

A long-term experiment at Iowa State University shows that producers making the switch to organic crops to meet growing market demand fetch premium prices, build healthy soil and sequester carbon, making organic agriculture a strategy for addressing climate change, according to study results published April 30 in the journal Crop Management.

 

Organic cropping systems can provide similar or greater yields, higher soil quality and much higher economic returns than a conventional corn-soybean rotation, according to 13 years of data from a side-by-side comparison experiment led by Kathleen Delate, agronomy and horticulture professor at Iowa State University’s Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm.

 

organic soybeans growing in a field, organic farmingOrganic Plots Show Higher Quality Soils

Iowa State University’s Long-Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) experiment began in 1998 with support from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and is one of the longest-running replicated comparisons of organic and conventional systems in the country.

 

The LTAR site also has been used as a demonstration plot for U.S. Department of Agriculture studies. Cropping systems at LTAR were designed based on local organic farmer input and practices. Delate’s study found that soils in the organic plots (three- and four-year rotations of corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa) had significantly higher quality compared to the plots using a conventional two-year rotation of corn and soybeans.

 

The organic plots had up to 40 percent more biologically active soil organic matter, which is important for fertility and nutrient availability. Organic soils also had lower acidity and higher amounts of carbon, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and calcium.

 

Healthy Soils Increase Resiliency

Healthy soils also hold more water and improve water infiltration, increasing a farm’s resiliency to drought, heavy rainfall and extreme weather events. Farming practices that build soil health also increase carbon storage in soil, which buffers climate change and contributes to better water quality. The LTAR experiment, located on 17 acres near Greenfield, Iowa, compares four crop rotations using identical varieties that are repeated four times in 44 plots.

 

The conventional rotation received synthetic nitrogen, herbicides and insecticides according to Iowa State University recommended rates. The organic corn plots received composted manure from a local chicken operation. Weeds are managed by timely tillage, longer crop rotations, cover crops and allelopathic chemicals.

 

(Source: Organic Trade Association on Organic Farming Methods, Summer 2013)

Fertilizing With AGGRAND: When and Why

By Walt Sandbeck - AGGRAND Fertilizer Specialist

 

The AGGRAND Garden Guide and the AGGRAND Crop Guide recommend frequent fertilization; however, these application rates may stretch the limits of cost effectiveness and convenience for large-scale planting. Profit margins are low enough on many commercial crops that fertilizer applications must be reduced to the absolute minimum necessary to still generate a profitable yield. It’s also important to limit the number of passes over the field to minimize soil compaction.

 

Research shows that it is important to provide crops with nutrients at specific growth stages to assure the nutrients will be in the plant at the right time to produce enough flowers, fruit and seed as it matures. Crop nutrient uptake rates are different at each growth stage, and crop growth rates vary with crop, variety and growing conditions. So, it makes sense to key fertilizer applications to the growth stages of each crop.

 

In grains, for example, more than 50 percent of the nutrients required for seed or kernel development come from the stems and leaves, and not the roots, so that’s why it’s important that the plants are adequately supplied with nutrients during early development.

 

“Plants need extra nutrients during transplanting, early growth and development, pre-bloom, early bloom and fruit formation. Foliar applications are effective in situations where a soil chemistry imbalance, cold soils or low soil fertility limit the root uptake of nutrients. Most plants respond to foliar applications when they are timed to coincide with seedling emergence, 3 to 6-inch height after two to four true leaves have formed; two to three weeks before first bloom, legumes such as snap beans or soybeans; first bloom, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons; runnering, cucumbers, melons; cluster formation, tomatoes; and fruit fill, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers.” - AGGRAND Foliar Feeding Guide

 

Use the same foliar feeding guidelines outlined above with fruit trees like apples, plums and cherries, and fruiting shrubs like blueberries, currants and chokeberries (aronia). These fruits all exhibit high nutrient demand when leaves open (leaf-out); just prior to blooming; and during fruit fill (as fruit enlarges).

 

Another key time to apply AGGRAND fertilizers is in late summer or after harvest, when leaves are sending available nutrients back down to the root system for winter storage for next season’s crop.

 

In a hay or pasture crop, rapid nutrient uptake occurs once some leaf development has taken place, and transpiration of moisture creates an upward flow of soil moisture (and nutrients) into the leaf. So, recommended AGGRAND applications are for when 4 to 6 inches of new growth have appeared in spring or after cutting or grazing.

 

In the case of corn, which is a very heavy feeder, there are several growth stages where a good response can be obtained by the timely application of AGGRAND. An in-ground, or banded, application at planting assures nutrients will be available for seed germination and early growth.

 

The next application of fertilizer, at 4 to 6 inches, is timed to coincide with the development of the first true leaves, and rapid early-root development.

 

An application at 10 to 12 inches is timed to coincide with rapid uptake of nitrogen during stalk elongation and the all-important determination of the number of kernel rows per ear. The last practical application is recommended at 18 to 24 inches, when stabilizing roots are forming, and the number of potential kernels per ear, as well as the size of the ear, is being determined. The rest is up to the weather and how well that variety is suited to the growing environment.

 

Every crop will respond more vigorously to fertilizer applications that are timed to coincide with critical stages of growth, when the plant is genetically primed for the maximum uptake of nutrients. The timing of these stages will differ from year to year. For the best results, growers need to do whatever they can to get nutrients into the plant as close to those times as possible.

AGGRAND Fertilizers Help

Garlic Farmer Save Crop in Wet Season

 

AGGRAND customer Peter Redick of Rochester, Minnesota is a commercial garlic grower and the CFO of Annie’s Garlic Ranch. Redick grows organic Chesnok red hardneck garlic to sell in niche markets.

 

He first used AGGRAND Organic Series Formula and AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash in the 2013 season. Redick plants the garlic in raised beds that are 150 feet long and about 6 feet wide. Redick applied AGGRAND organic fertilizer at a rate of 1 quart per 850 square feet. “There’s less spice and more flavor in the hardneck varieties,” he said.

 

He added AGGRAND Kelp and Sulfate of Potash to his regimen because of unusually wet conditions.

 

“This year was a bad year for garlic,” Redick said of the 2013 growing season. “It was too wet in the Midwest.”

 

He followed recommendations from AGGRAND to add Kelp and Sulfate of Potash to his regimen. The kelp product helps protect plants from the potential for diseases that may develop under excessively wet conditions.

 

Redick said growers in Iowa lost as much as 95 percent of their garlic crops because of the wet conditions. Adding the sulfate of potash helped Redick save as much as 50 percent of his crop. “I grow in raised beds, but there was still too much water,” Redick said. “The season was crazy with the weather.”

 

Garlic is typically planted in the fall, so Redick has already planted his garlic for the 2014 growing season. “I saved the largest bulbs to continue the crop lines,” Redick said. “My soil is better with the AGGRAND and manure tilled together.”

 

The best plan is to start small and to add varieties year after year, Redick said. high yield organic garlic,

 

He used soil analysis results to get specific recommendations for applying AGGRAND fertilizers. He increased fertilization rates when the garlic started to bulb.

 

Redick said he likes the consistency of the AGGRAND formulas. “You don’t have to worry about it, the formula is the same every time,” he said. “It’s mild, it doesn’t burn the plants and I can put it on as often as I want.”

 

Another benefit of AGGRAND fertilizers is the ability to apply it to the leaves. “It doesn’t hurt the fruit, and it washes right off without leaving any taste. That’s a key positive, I think. There’s no harmful residue,” he said.

 

As with many crops, there’s more to garlic than what one finds in the grocery store. “Most of the garlic found in the store is non-organic and grown on a large scale,” Redick said. “The taste is nothing like the organic garlics grown for niche markets.”

 

Garlic originated in the wild in Central Asia and has more than 5,000 years of history as an important horticultural crop.

 

The number of genetically different garlic clones under cultivation today is difficult to determine, according to an article by Boundary Garlic Farm, a producer of organic seed garlic varieties. Garlic is extremely adaptable and after a few years in a particular locality it will take on a shape, size, color and flavor characteristic of its new location.

 

The differences include softneck and hardneck garlics, with many varieties under each classification. “Garlic is increasingly popular as consumers discover its health benefits and high antioxidant content,” Redick said.

 

Redick is looking forward to a better season in 2014. ”I just know we’re not going to get that kind of weather again,” he said. “We’re not going to get that May snow.”

AGGRAND application rates and experiences featured here have been submitted by sources independent of AGGRAND. Individual 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.