The High Cost Of Nitrogen

high cost of nitrogen

Nitrogen is probably the most important plant nutrient used by commercial farming operations today. The cost of producing nitrogen to society and your farming operation is very high. It takes approximately 33,000 BTU's of natural gas to produce a ton of commercial nitrogen. The result is an incredible waste of natural resources that could be used to heat the homes of future generations.

It was reported by practical farmers from Iowa that many corn plots across the state yielded more corn with 30-40 pounds of added nitrogen than fields having 150 pounds. I wonder how often this has happened on your farm without you knowing it. This could be a savings of $7-18 per acre on many farms.

The Nutritional Needs of Carrots

The Nutritional Needs of Carrots

By Wendell Owens

I remember my Mom running her garden tool through the garden. It had a blade on it, and it would cut off the roots of the weeds. It was very handy, but you could only run it in the rows and not between the plants. That’s where I came in; I was the weeder between the plants.

Carrots were the worst. When the two blades of the carrots poked through the ground, that was when they needed to be weeded. It was hard to tell the difference between the carrots and the grass. I didn’t like that job. I still have that gardening tool of my mother’s just to remind me of my Mom and her gardening days. We had one acre of garden and we lived off the farm.

Nutritional Supports for Carrots

While the nutritional requirements of most plants change from the beginning to end of their life cycle, nutritional supports for carrots should be kept in the seed producing mode all throughout their life cycle. Usually produce goes from growth-producing to seed-producing and back to growth-producing, which bulks the produce.

But carrots are the only plants that should remain in the seed producing mode for their lifetime. This means that you would not use products like Amaze, which is a bulker, but you would use trace mineral products to fertilize carrots such as WayAhead 7X. You can read more about WayAhead 7X on our website, or simply give me a call at 507-235-6909 if you have any questions.

At one time I raised carrots for the local canning company. I had 45 acres of carrots, and, of course, I sprayed them with herbicide as directed by the local canning company. The local canning company didn’t want any weeds to interfere with the harvesting equipment. It took me thirty days just to harvest the carrots. It was a very slow process requiring several passes through the field to cut the tops, dig the carrots, and clean the carrots. Needless to say, I only raised them one year.

This World of Ours

this world of oursFall is a good time to carefully watch your crop mature, study your moisture reserves, crop health, shape, size, thickness of stalks and leaves. One of the important points is watching the way a crop dries down. Corn and soybeans should have the ears and pods dry before the stalk and leaves dry down. If the stalk and leaves dry down first the grain cannot dry out properly. You end up with grain that doesn't keep. Sometimes the plant and grain doesn't dry at all. This is generally due to excessive nitrogen and not enough calcium, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium.

Lack of available phosphate to plants

One of the biggest problems I see in crop production today is lack of available phosphate to plants. Phosphate is the key to unlock the path to true crop quality. Dr. Reams taught that all plant food should go into the plant in colloidal phosphate form in order to have nutritious strong healthy plants. This means we need phosphate that becomes available to the plant worked upon by the soil micro-biological system. It's true that a lot of elements can enter the plant and cell in non-phosphate form, but you end up with plants that are subject to insect damage and disease .

Tomatoes: Farm and Garden

tomatoesGrowing a quality tomato without the use - or with limited use - of herbicides and insecticides is a very challenging and difficult task

I recently visited with a tomato grower who had potato beetles in his tomatoes. The set plants came already infested with the beetle eggs. Once we got-enough energy in the soil and the brix reading high enough in the plants, the potato beetles marched right out of the field.

This approach to pest management is completely different from the spray insecticide approach. One of the main things that I emphasize in the winter seminars is monitoring the soil energy to keep the plants strong enough to resist pests and diseases. The test used to measure soil energy is called the Ergs test. This test involves taking equal measures of soil and deionized water, mixing them together and then taking a reading with the probe of a conductivity meter which determines the micromhos per centimeter.

Two Fields Compared

Problem being addressed

field comparisonA new client came to my office recently bringing two soil samples from two different fields. Each field consisted of 65 acres and has been in corn soybean rotation for ten plus years. The fields have been ridge-tilled since 1980.

Soil samples on these fields have been tested every year for over 20 years. The test results come back nearly the same each year with fertilizer recommendations also the same for each field. This had the owner a little concerned.

Every time the soils have been tested he has told the fertilizer people that field #1 always has 30-40 bushels less corn than field #2, yet both fields get the same fertilizer recommendations.

When he asked me to run a test I quizzed him about drainage conditions. He feels the fields are equal. The slope and soil types are identical. He also said this problem has existed for 30 years and no one has been able to tell him why.

Understanding Your Soil

understanding your soilWhy change my current farming fertility practices?

Every once in a while I am asked why should I bother to change my current farming fertility practices. I used to get pretty excited about a question such as this and would really light into a person. Then I realized they simply did not understand the consequences of their fertility practices. Now I like to take the time to explain the long term consequences of their actions. I also encourage them to start with small changes.

The need for reconsideration of fertility practices is best explained by the following case history. A friend of mine recently visited with a German farmer. He was spreading a lot of manure on his land which the American could not understand. The American asked how he could afford to do this. The German replied we cannot afford not to.

Yield Data

Yield DataInside This Issue

  • Varieties To Note
  • Plot Data East Chain
  • Plot Data Winnebago
  • WayAhead 7X





zwitterionWhat does this word have to do with agriculture?

For an old farmer like me, this sounds like a foreign language. Being an old farmer isn’t always bad. I have taken many things apart just to see how it works. That is what compelled me to sneak up on this word and do some investigation.

A zwitterion is a hybrid

That’s a word we farmers understand. Now we know it can’t be all bad. If it is a hybrid it must be a mixture of something and that is true. A zwitterion is an ion that carries both a positive and negative charge. Make a mental note of the last statement because this is the most unusual thing about a zwitterion.

We at International Ag Labs have always stressed the importance of putting a mixture of different products together in our nitrogen solutions to stabilize them. This has been very successful for our producers that do not farm organically. We have been able to lower our nitrogen requirements for corn from 1.2 lbs per bushel to .6 to .7 lbs per bushel. The products in this nitrogen mixture have always been dictated to us by the results of a soil test. It also determines the ratios of products in the mixture. Our goal in making this mixture was always to end up with a simple amino acid solution.

Wendell Owens

of International Ag Labs

Wendell Owen

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