Calcium is King

Eighteen year Growers Program veteran, Alton Stephens of Ohio talks about soil tests and his fertility program for 2009.

By Alton Stephens

In the beginning when God created the Earth, God saw that it was good.  Throughout the history of mankind, man has become greedy.  At the end of W.W.II the ag universities could have made recommendations of high calcium lime, but, instead, the dry fertilizer companies gave a lot of money to have research showing their dry fertilizer products work.  High calcium lime would be more economical and healthful than dry fertilizers.

Alton Stephens OH
Alton Stephens showing off his hobby

Our 200 plus acres operation has been on the Growers Program for 18 years, using calcium and Growers Mineral Solutions, and no dry fertilizer.  During the first three or four years we put 20 tons per acre of water treatment lime on all our fields, which is the equivalent to about 15 tons per acre of dry matter.   At the time, we left an acre where we didn't put on any lime so we could see the difference.  We found we got our money back within six years, meanwhile the lime is still working.

In one particular field last season we had soybeans.  We had just planted them when it started raining every few days.  There was much water accumulation in the neighborhood's fields.  A farmer down the road replanted some of his soybeans three times.  We didn't have to replant any of ours.  They all came up, even on the ground where the water had lain.  We foliar fed ours with 2 gallons of Growers.  The neighbor said his beans made 28 Bu. to the acre.  Ours, which we put in the bin, made approximately 40 Bu. to the acre.

We seldom take soil samples because we depend wholly on Growers and calcium.  However, for curiosity's sake, last year, a very wet season, we took a soil sample of our 40 Bu. to the acre bean field.  We compared the figures from this soil sample with a sample from a different neighbor's field.  This man has been working with a well known soil consultant for many years.  His test showed a soil pH of 6.9, a Cation Exchange Capacity of 11.4, potassium at 4.1, magnesium at 24.2, calcium at 70.3, and hydrogen at 1.5.  Our test report showed soil pH at 7.5, Cation Exchange Capacity of 13.0, potassium at 1.9, magnesium at 13.7, calcium at 84.3, and no hydrogen. 

For 175 Bu. corn on this neighbor's farm, A&L Labs recommends 230 units of nitrogen, 90 units of phosphorus and 45 units of potash.

Nitrogen   @ $0.55 / lb. x 230 lb./ ac.      =   $126.50 / ac.
Phosphorus   @ $0.315 / lb. x 90 lb./ ac.  =     $28.35 / ac.
Potash   @ $0.44 / lb. x 45 lb./ ac.            =     $19.80 / ac.
                   TOTAL  =   $174.65 / ac.

 

What has been recommended for our farm is 189 lb. of nitrogen, 60 lb.of phosphorus and 80 lb. of potash. 

Nitrogen @ $0.55 / lb. x 189 lb./ ac.        =   $103.95 / ac.
Phosphorus @ $0.315 / lb. x 60 lb./ ac.    =    $18.90 / ac.
Potash @ $0.44 / lb. x 80 lb./ ac.              =    $35.20 / ac.
                                                 TOTAL    =  $158.05 / ac.

We will not follow the recommendations.  What we are going to do is use 6 gallons of Growers; 4 gallons in the row and 2 foliar fed, plus 80 pounds of nitrogen side dressed.  This  will cost us $151.70 per acre.

Nitrogen @ $0.55 / lb. x 80 lb./ ac.       =  $44.00 / ac.
Growers @ $17.95 / gal. x 6 gal / ac.    = $107.70 / ac.
                                               TOTAL   = $151.70 / ac.

We use a minimal amount of weed spray, and with the Growers Program we have fewer insects and diseases.  With no dry fertilizer, the soil is in better condition to resist weeds and pests.

Calcium is # 20 on the periodic table of elements. It has an atomic weight of 40.08.  It is the fifth most abundant mineral on planet Earth.  Calcium is very important to our program because it flocculates the soil, which helps make nutrients more available to the growing plant  If you notice the ground being hard and dense, you need calcium.

Lime spreading
Alton Stephens spreading lime

As quoted in Acres USA magazine, soil microbiologist William Albrecht of the University of Missouri said, "Use lime to feed the plant."  He also said, "Insects and diseases are the symptoms of a failing crop.  The use of toxic sprays is an act of desperation in a dying agriculture.  It is not the overpowering invader we must fear, but the weakened condition of the victim."

Growers Mineral Solutions contains all food or tech grade minerals.  Clean minerals are needed to help grow healthier crops for the entire food chain, including the crop being grown, animals that eat the crop, and people who eat either the meat or the crop.  Use Growers for a healthier planet.

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