Monday, January 20, 2014

Chemical Agriculture 106 - Minerals and Micro Nutrients

Chemical agriculture focuses on N, P & K to the exclusion of all others. As a result, we are mining our soils of essential minerals and micro-nutrients. We pretty much ignore these small but essential nutrients. If we had hundreds or even thousands of years the weathering of the soil would eventually restore these elements, but the removal rate is many times faster than natural processes can restore them.

The Petersen's have addressed this need by adding minerals to our soils. We started by adding 600 lbs per acre of lime (calcium carbonate) to the whole farm for the first several years. I knew that we needed calcium because of the weeds we were seeing (ones that grew well in a calcium deficient environment and because of some of the calcium deficient diseases, like blossom end rot in the tomatoes and peppers.)

In addition we added kelp a broad spectrum of minerals from the sea and we used fish emulsion which is also a broad mineral supplement.

The 3.5 million pounds of compost also has significant minerals. Why would that be? The substrate for the compost is leaves. Trees cycle minerals from deep in the soil through their leaves. So compost made from leaves retains and transfers the minerals to the soil where is has been used.

I probably should have done a baseline soil analysis before we changed or added anything. But I am kinda old school in this respect as I like to observe the weeds and the garden plants for evidence of deficiencies.

Base on this method the results of our efforts have transformed our soils from a lifeless and deficient farm to supercharged soils where quality and flavor of the produce are excellent.

Our next topic takes us to the world of seeds and genetics.

See Chemical Agriculture 107 - Seeds and genetics.

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