Showing posts from February, 2022

Energized ROI Water

  It’s hard to believe that water which is H2O or two atoms of hydrogen combined with one atom of oxygen can have so many different properties. Water is a universal solvent since many crop nutrients easily dissolve in it. Water is polar, meaning one side has positive charges (hydrogen) and the other side has negative charges (oxygen), increasing solubility. New science is starting to find that not all water is the same and this has important impacts for agricultural production. Everyday humans are exposed to over 100,000 chemical compounds, many of which reside in our water. Many pollutants tie up and have a negative effect on crop growth. When farmers spray their crops with herbicides, hard water decreases its effectiveness. Hard water contains calcium carbonates, iron, aluminum, and many other minerals and pollutants. Water softeners use salts like sodium chloride and/or potassium chloride to displace the high mineral content of hard water. However, these salts can also be hard on th

Understanding Soil Phosphorus

  Phosphorus (P) fertilizer improves crop yields, so farmers add P fertilizer either every year or only once to corn in corn-soybean rotation. Unfortunately, only about 5-15% of applied P fertilizer is used by plants the year it is applied. Since P is so reactive, the remaining 85-95% of applied P fertilizer is quickly tied up or complexed by the soil. When fertilizer costs are high, farmers can use the P that is in their soil bank without sacrificing yield as long as P soil test levels are adequate. Soil P can be lost in two ways. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) or orthophosphate easily leaches while particulate phosphorus (P bound to soil particles) is lost when soils erode. One way of minimizing P losses and utilizing P more efficiently is to understand how soil P is stored. There are four main pools of soil P: SRP, soil microbes, absorbed soil particulate P, and mineral P. The smallest P fraction is the SRP or orthophosphate with 0.5-1#/acre of soil P in solution which is microbi

Keeping Nitrogen and Phosphorus Available

  Keeping soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) available and on the land is every farmer’s goal. If a farmer is paying for fertilizer, they want the plant to use it. From an environmental standpoint, N and P that leaches or runs off is bad for water quality. Finding ways to tie up N and P and keeping it on the land is good for everyone. The best way to keep nutrients in the soil is to keep the nutrient available but not soluble. Available nutrients can be used by soil microbes and then transferred to plant roots. Two problems occur with soluble nutrients. First, soluble nutrients flow with water and may either leach or runoff the soil. Second, in dry soils, soluble nutrients are not readily available. Nitrogen in the form of nitrates (NO3 - ) has a negative charge. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) or orthophosphate (PO4 3- ) also has a negative charge as do clay particles. Since negative charges repel each other, these elements tend to be soluble and flow with water. Any organic subst