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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.
Dealers and customers can get the best results with AGGRAND natural fertilizers by using the proper equipment and techniques for their specific applications, which include proper nozzle selection, tank agitation or recirculation and even shaking well before use.
Except for Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash (NKP) 0-0-8, all AGGRAND products are ‘thick’ — more or less the consistency of soup. So, getting the hose-end sprayer to siphon up the Natural Fertilizer (NOF), Natural Liquid Bonemeal (NBM) or Natural Liquid Lime (NLL) can be touch and go. That’s why there’s a blurb on the sprayer bag tag saying “dilute the product with water to decrease spray time.” It has always been there, but a lot of folks never see it because of ‘fine print.’ But, it’s there for a reason: The products are viscous. So let’s go over some of the easy ways to prepare AGGRAND products to work their best.
The smaller packages (quarts, 2.5-gallon jugs) should be shaken well before use to reincorporate any settled or separated portions and maintain homogeneity. After any of the products are mixed with water, they should be stirred or blended vigorously before use. If the product is added to a mix tank, mix the AGGRAND products 50/50 with water before adding it to that tank, even if it has good agitation or recirculation. That way, the AGGRAND will go into solution quick as a whistle, and you won’t be trying to incorporate a glob of concentrate off the bottom of the tank.
Generally, the shipping process keeps the larger containers, drums and totes, shaking enough that all you need to do is open them and pour or pump out the contents. Remember that when pouring out of one hole, air must be allowed to come in another hole to enable the flow. That means simply loosening the cap opposite the one that is opened on the drum, or the cap on top of the tote.
The most frequent question I get from folks using drums and totes is: “Will there be any problem if I only use half the fertilizer this year and save the rest for next year?” Usually, the inference is “Will the product still be good?” I always say that the full half of the container will be fine, but it’s the empty part that needs some consideration. By next growing season, any of the fertilizer stuck to the dry inside of the drum or tote will have dried up and likely started flaking off into the leftover fertilizer. Those little flakes may become obstructions in the spray tank filters or tips. The best way to reduce the flakes is to hose down the inside of the drum with as little water as possible, mix in well with the remaining fertilizer, and store tightly capped. The small amount of water will not affect the fertilizer. The other method involves filtering the AGGRAND into the mix tank to remove the flakes. Mix 50/50 with water before filtering through at least a 25 mesh screen. If you’ve removed the nozzle screens (in a boom field sprayer), you shouldn’t have any trouble. Recapping the containers securely and proper storage out of the direct sun should minimize the amount of drying that occurs.
AGGRAND Organic Series has its own unique characteristics. Basically, it can thicken over time while in storage. In the case of the 5-gallon bucket, the product may not pour out of the spout, but can be easily liquefied again by using a drill and a paint mixer. Use the following procedure for removing the lid on the 5-gallon bucket: slice the outside lip of the lid vertically using a box knife and hammer (to whack it through the tough plastic), then pry it off. Once it has reasonably liquefied again (about 2 minutes of mixing time), pour the amount being used into a larger container, add the same amount of water, and take the drill mixer to it again. It’s now ready for the mix or field tank, which should already be at least half full of water, and stirring. Agitation and/or recirculation will then take care of the mixing in the field. The organic series formula is made to order and shipped to the nearest warehouse immediately, so residence time in the container before receipt is minimal.
AGGRAND fertilizers contain liquid fish, soluble seaweed, mined sulfate of potash, ground rock phosphate and other recognizable ingredients that do wonderful things when blended carefully and added to the living soil. Follow the tips, and AGGRAND fertilizers will work very well.
Larry Boltz of Shelton, Washington. started using AGGRAND natural fertilizers on his pastures and hay fields after he read about them on the Internet. He enrolled as a commercial account.
Boltz raises beef cattle and a couple of horses on the farm his family moved to after he retired in 2008. He wanted to implement a natural and sustainable cropping system to raise cattle that are GMO-free.
“My animals get absolutely no grain,” Boltz said. “People want grass-fed beef, they have the higher omegas as well as being just plain healthier. My cattle grow just like the buffalo used to. They’re in very good shape.”
He raises Hereford cows and Low Line bulls. They’re what the original black Angus was in the 1960s, Boltz explained. They have short legs, low to the ground. “They don’t have to cover a lot of area, so the short legs are okay,” he said.
He had his work cut out for him in western Washington, where the soil is rocky, with hardpan under the surface. Hardpan is a dense layer of soil under the uppermost topsoil that is largely impervious to water.
“The ground here could be a gravel pit,” Boltz said. “The soil is compacted, so water won’t permeate it, almost like concrete.”
The hard-packed soil makes it difficult to use nitrates to feed the plants. “The nitrogen washes right past the roots,” Boltz said, causing it to leach into the ground water. Applying AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash fertilizers is effective in reaching the root zone and supplying nutrients to the grasses without contaminating the water supply, Boltz said.
As if those hurdles were not enough, the soil also is acidic, with a ph level anywhere from 5.6 to 5.9, which is not conducive to growing grass, Boltz said. He uses AGGRAND Liquid Lime to boost the ph.
His first experience convinced him that the AGGRAND Liquid Fertilizers were great products. “I washed my sprayer out in my rock pile,” Boltz said. “Now I have grass growing in my rock pile. This is good stuff.”
When Boltz bought the land in 2008, he sent AGGRAND a soil sample for analysis and used the results and recommendations to form his AGGRAND fertilization plan. His mix ratio is 2 gallons of AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer per acre with 1 quart of AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash and 2 quarts of AGGRAND Liquid Lime.
“I’m extremely pleased with what AGGRAND fertilizers have done here at my place,” Boltz said. “It produces some nice grass.”
Boltz has a friend who designs agricultural sprayers and helped him create one that works well for applying AGGRAND fertilizers.
“He told me to get rid of the boom,” Boltz said of his sprayer. “I call it the ‘Boominator.’ There’s one nozzle and I get a 14-foot swath with it. I get no plugging whatsoever. I don’t have to worry about uneven ground. It works fabulous.”
Boltz grazes his cattle on two properties. The property where he lives has been fertilized with AGGRAND fertilizers for the past four years. The other pasture has received only one application of AGGRAND fertilizers. “That property has not been fertilized in a long time,” Boltz said.
Boltz typically supplements the cattle’s feed with protein tubs that cost about $90 each. The cattle on his home pasture “didn’t even touch it,” Boltz said. “They were getting all the nutrients they need, in fact, three times as many as the other property. At the other place, they ate it all up (the protein).”
Boltz grazes his cattle on an area, mows it and then fertilizes it. It’s a repeating pattern, he said. “I’m constantly feeding the ground,” he said. “It’s sustainable, alternate grazing. The soil is getting small feedings all along.”
He knows it’s important to continue to improve the soil with regular applications of fertilizers. “I ask people ‘do you only eat one meal a year?’”
Eric Odney of St. Paul, Minnesota turned his passion for growing and cultivating his garden into a thriving AGGRAND business.
Odney said, “Beyond believing that AGGRAND products would help my garden flourish, I became convinced that high-quality, all-natural and organic, liquid fertilizers were the answer to growing high-quality, organic all-natural food. Food for food.”
Odney said AGGRAND fertilizers are positioned to lead the growing organic and natural marketplace, much the way AMSOIL synthetic lubricants lead in the oil industry.
“Think about how popular and widely-sold organic foods are today,” Odney said. “I have found that growers and consumers today are very conscientious about what is applied to their fields, gardens and lawns, and AGGRAND fertilizer is a proven alternative to the harsh, dry chemical fertilizers.
“My customers include farmers, gardeners and lawn care specialists. With the help of my sponsor l have been able to turn prospects from all around the United States and Canada into AGGRAND users and proponents.”
Anthony Zilar of Kennewick, Washington started using AGGRAND products experimentally in 2008. By 2012, he committed to using AGGRAND products for his expanding farm operations and realized higher yield, lower costs and better quality in his wheat harvest.
In 2008, Zilar was a part-time farmer and rancher looking for costeffective ways to achieve high yields and quality results for various crops. He found AGGRAND products on the Internet.
“I was intrigued by testimonials claiming higher yields and lower costs,” Zilar said. “Of course, the science of AGGRAND products also was very refreshing.”
He describes himself as naturally skeptical. ”I decided to conduct my own field trials,” Zilar said. He built a boom sprayer and modified his sprayer system to maximize the efficiency in the application of the AGGRAND products. (His boom sprayer project was the focus of an earlier AGGRAND News article.)
His initial AGGRAND application was on pastures and small 5-10-acre irrigated and dry-land hay fields. “I was achieving success and wanted to know more,” Zilar said.
In 2009, he toured the AGGRAND production facility in Superior Wisconsin and learned more about the products from AGGRAND staff.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Zilar said. “I used the information I learned and continued to collect data from my own field trials. I enjoyed my success as a part-time farmer.”
He became a full-time farmer in late 2012, when the farming lease on his family’s property was up. He wanted to bring 185 irrigated acres back into alfalfa hay production. The previous leased crop had been potatoes. “I felt the best way to transition to alfalfa was to plant a rotation of hard red winter wheat (HRW) to maximize on soil preparation for a successful alfalfa crop the following year,” Zilar said.
He hired a crop consultant to advise him on wheat production. The consultant determined standard fertilizing practices would come at a cost of about $190 an acre. “That was not acceptable to me,” Zilar said. “So I used my knowledge and experience with AGGRAND products to formulate an alternative plan. It was time to make a full commitment to growing crops with AGGRAND fertilizers.”
Trusting AGGRAND Experience for Spring
In the fall of 2012, Zilar completed tillage of the crop fields. “My baseline soil analysis revealed there were likely enough nutrients in the soil to get a wheat stand through the winter,” he said. “My experience with AGGRAND products supported a foliar application in the spring would likely supplement an emerging crop successfully. So I took a gamble and opted not to provide a ground application of fertilizer prior to planting.”
Zilar planted 100 pounds per acre of Whetstone variety HRW wheat in early November. “By April 2013, my wheat crop was fully emerged and tillering,” he said. “However, comparison with other wheat stands in the area indicated my crop was a bit behind in growth; likely because of depleted nutrients from my decision not to do a ground application of fertilizer prior to planting.”
He responded with a direct application of AGGRAND Liquid Lime (a half gallon/ acre) and AGGRAND Natural Kelp and Sulphate of Potash (a half gallon/ acre) mixed with some weed abatement products.
Zilar reasoned the AGGRAND products would provide the calcium, sulfur and potassium to enhance root growth and nutrient uptake to give the young crop a strong foundation for prolific development. “The wheat crop response was exceptional,” he said.
A week later, he applied a half-gallon per acre of AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer through his irrigation system. The product was easy and efficient to apply, and the wheat stand developed quicker and more hardily than most of the other fields in his area, he said. After that, he occasionally supplemented the wheat stand by injecting a quart per acre of AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer.
“At late flag stage, just before the wheat went to the boot, I included a quart per acre of AGGRAND Natural Liquid Bonemeal with some AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer to promote large wheat head development,” Zilar said. “When the wheat went to bloom, I injected a final dose of a quart per acre of AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer to help maximize the number of grains per head of wheat.”
The weather was a challenge during the season, with the region experiencing late frosts and early-summer high temperatures, Zilar said. Occasional, unusually strong winds in June resulted in lodging on many wheat fields.
“Fortunately, my wheat stand had minimal damage from the frost, heat or wind,” he said. “I attributed the health of my stand and resistance to negative elements to the use of AGGRAND products.”
Other local wheat stands grown with expensive commercial fertilizer products, garnered yields between 110 and 135 bushels of wheat per acre.
“Many of those farmers took a hit when selling their grain because they had trouble making the standard protein values of 11. 5 percent,” Zilar said. “I yielded 140 bushels of wheat per acre with protein values of 12 percent, exceeding the market standards. My fertilizer costs were $55 per acre, about one quarter of the costs of other wheat crops.
Zilar realized higher yields, better quality and lower costs. He continued his assessment of AGGRAND products when he prepared his fields for the next planting.
“Yes, I had a great, high-quality yield,” Zilar said. “But I knew for every pound of product I took from my soil, I depleted its vital nutrients. Depletion of nutrients meant less soil fertility for future crops and higher costs for soil recovery. So the real test of AGGRAND product effectiveness was determining how much nutrient depletion resulted from yielding over 6 tons of grain and straw per acre from my soils.”
The preparation for a fall alfalfa planting included tilling, soil sampling and nutrient supplementing, an often expensive and time-consuming process, Zilar said.
Tilling includes turning under as much organic matter as possible from the previous crop. This promotes good soil microbiology and prevents the organic matter from fouling the seeding equipment. “Pulling tillage across a field consumes much fuel and adds to overall costs,” Zilar said. “In order to decrease the number of tractor passes required to work the organic matter into the soil, I opted to burn the excess straw on my fields to decrease the amount of straw on the surface. This was a gamble because vital nutrients are often lost from the soil as the heat of the fire draws the moisture from the ground.”
A soil sample analysis after burning the soil proved the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium remaining in the soil was comparable to the baseline soil samples taken prior to the initial wheat planting. The only notable depletion from the soil was sulfur content.“This was an inexpensive fix when compared to the costs of soil supplements required by the other farmers who opted to use more traditional means to bring their soils back to par,” Zilar said.
In September 2013, Zilar planted alfalfa. “By first frost, I had full emergence and a great start on what is expected to be a healthy, profitable crop,” he said. “I look forward to continued success and cost saving with the use of AGGRAND products.
Over the course of a growing season, we are beset with a variety of recurring questions. In this issue, we’ll answer some of those more commonly asked questions not addressed in the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website.
A: Yes. AGGRAND products are all-natural, biodegradable and non-toxic. AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer has earned certification as 100 percent USDA bio-based. That means it is officially from 100 percent natural sources and registered with USDA as among the products of choice for contractors trying to reduce their environmental footprint. All AGGRAND products are non-toxic when applied per AGGRAND recommendations, and there is no re-entry time stipulation for humans or animals. AGGRAND Customers can access the product Material Safety Data Sheet for more information.
A: This question often arises upon the completion of a soil recommendation. Based on the number of times I’ve been asked, and the fact that I’ve never had any reports of incompatibility, AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3 in its dilute form is compatible with most tank-mixable pesticides and herbicides. Whenever there is some doubt, as when using other AGGRAND products, we always recommend the “jar test.” For this test, the products to be tank-mixed are blended in small amounts at the appropriate dilution rates and mixed in a jar, where any chemical reaction that would interfere with a good application will become apparent.
A: All fertilizer product labels must state the percentage by weight of the major nutrients as packaged. Once any fertilizer is mixed with water or applied to the field neat and dissolved by rain or irrigation, only a fraction of those nutrients are available to the plants at a given time. With AGGRAND, though, all of the nutrients that have been applied are available immediately, not sitting there waiting for the next rainfall.
Harry Rakfeldt of Belfair, Washington uses AGGRAND fertilizers and innovative planting techniques to grow highly-productive tomato plants in a small space.
Rakfeldt constructed a sub-irrigated planter (SIP) to make the most use of his limited space. The system allows him to use less than half of the water he would need in a more traditional garden bed.
“There’s a 60 percent to 80 percent decrease in water use in a plant-to-plant comparison vs. a typical garden,” Rakfeldt said. “It also doubles the production of a garden, and is virtually weed free.”
The SIP is a form of a raised bed that contains a self-watering irrigation system. Water is stored in the bottom of the bed and is wicked up to the growing medium via capillary action. SIPs can be designed into many different containers from large to small.
This type of planter typically is used in container gardening and commercial landscaping. A SIP is any method of watering plants where the water is introduced from the bottom, allowing the water to soak upward to the plant.
Rakfeldt first used the SIP system during the 2013 growing season. “This year, as last year, I only raised tomatoes,” he said. “My two raised beds are narrow (max 19” wide) to fit into the available space on my terraced hillsides. I planted nine different varieties this year and included: Celebrity, Early Girl, Sweet Million (cherry), Super Bush, First Lady, Big Boy, Health Kick, one unknown and Better Boy.”
He has good southern exposure for one of the raised beds. “Except for very early in the morning and later afternoon it gets full sun,” Rakfeldt said. “The bed in the front of the house has sun only about four to five hours daily. Yet, the constant availability of moisture, a scheduled feeding following the AGGRAND feeding recommendations and the lack of competing weeds resulted in robust plants that have continued to produce since around July 10. Tomatoes this year were planted April 14.”
Rakfeldt is a fan of AGGRAND fertilizers. “I started using AGGRAND with enthusiasm about eight or so years ago,” he said. “Until last year it was limited to flowers in the ground and pots. I converted my wife from Miracle-Gro to AGGRAND. It took time, but she agrees AGGRAND really works better.”
Both years Rakfeldt broadcast an AGGRAND mix several days before planting. AGGRAND fertilizer was applied after planting; fertilizing is done on a 10- to 14-day schedule.
Rakfeldt uses AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer 4-3-3, Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash and Natural Bonemeal at an average per-gallon mix ratio of 2:1:1, respectively. “I increased the mix when the plants were putting on strong growth. All feedings this year were in-ground.”
He bought a rich, custom-made mushroom compost soil mix for the gardens, he said. “I’m sure the garden mix is a good part of my success,” Rakfeldt said. “Last year on the initial fill I added a 25 percent mix of chips and shredded maple leaves. The chips and leaves are produced on my property and had aged for six months and then were re-shredded before adding as an amendment. Over the year there has been some settling of the soil, and I will amend it again before use next year.”
By Walt Sandbeck – Fertilizer Specialist at AGGRAND
Have you ever wished that you could put a monitoring device on a customer’s field, “log on,” and find out exactly how AGGRAND is influencing a particular crop or garden?
Welcome to the AGGRAND Vegetable Productivity Study. That’s what we have been doing south of the AGGRAND plant for the past five years: checking crop development and quality — sometimes on a daily basis — as well as monitoring and archiving weather data (rainfall, soil temps, soil moisture and wind speed).
This spring found us looking out over large snow banks in the AGGRAND parking lot as we took the soil samples from each garden plot. The soil has to thaw out to at least 6 inches to get a good sample. A cup of each sample is sent to Midwest Labs for yearly analysis so we can develop a trend in nutrient accumulation or loss for each of the six plots: three Research and Development plots, and the three competitive plots. A smaller portion of each sample is set aside for soil respiration testing, where each sample is dried, and then re-wetted with a discrete amount of water, and the carbon dioxide (CO2) output of the activated soil bacteria is then measured after 24 hours.
Thus begins the seasonal data generation. The results consistently show that the AGGRAND-fertilized soils maintain a higher level of biological activity than chemically-fertilized or non-fertilized soils.
Next, the plots are roto-tilled, and the windscreen is draped around the perimeter of the plot area. The garden crops are protected from the wind by a 60 percent screen material. The screen also captures and holds heat on sunny days, creating a warmer microclimate that buys us a few extra heating-degree days during the growing season. Since this part of northern Wisconsin gets an average of only 114 frost-free days every year, we need all the help we can get.
It’s not until early June that the tomatoes are planted in the plots. After the beds were tilled and raked this year, rows were laid for the onions since they can be planted in cooler soil. This spring saw ample rain, but not enough warm weather. Soil temps were up to 59°F, but plummeted back down to 55°F following one rainstorm.
A frequent question is whether the AGGRAND studies are “scientific,” meaning using the scientific method of randomized, replicated growth plots. AGGRAND does not have the space to do that kind of study, so we have simply set up the growth plots to demonstrate how well AGGRAND fertilizers can grow a crop in comparison to a control plot and a plot fertilized with a competitive product. Detailed observation generates data for an in-house testimonial, if you will.
AGGRAND fertilizers applied as specified in the AGGRAND Gardening Guide (G-1292), so Dealers and customers have an idea of what to expect if they follow the guide. Competitors’ products are applied according to the manufacturer’s label or website instructions.
I’ve been asked if the vegetable studies are fair, since the AGGRAND program uses a combination of three or four different inputs. The whole point of having the auxiliary products is to get the most you can out of a crop. If other products had a garden guide for their assorted products, we’d use it.
Sure, you can get good production simply using AGGRAND Natural Fertilizer or AGGRAND Organic Series, but the Natural Liquid Lime, Natural Liquid Bonemeal and Natural Kelp and Sulfate of Potash are included in the garden guide because plants need a different balance of nutrients: more liquid lime for cabbage and herbs; kelp and sulfate of potash for carrots, potatoes and foliar applications, and bone meal for tomatoes and roses, to give just a few examples. This is how we grow with AGGRAND, so the annual Vegetable Productivity Study will continue to represent that.
We’ve also been engaged in ongoing solo trials with Natural Fertilizer and Organic Series Fertilizer against a control, to generate comparison data between the two products. Again, we’re applying according to the schedule in the Gardening Guide, but using only those two AGGRAND products. Last year’s results showed a negligible difference in performance.
This year, we’ll be looking for any carryover effects from the first year’s application of Organic Series Fertilizer. There’s a chance there may be more residual slow-release phosphorus as a benefit of adding the rock phosphate. We’ll see.