FAQS

Show or hide the answer Won't using such a small amount of fertilizer eventually "wear out" my soil?

Short answer

       All plant tissue is composed of 96 to 97% carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O). 

       Let's grow 150 bushels per acre of corn.  According to a current study ("Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest"); we would need 219 pounds of nutrients.  (Remember the three most abundant elements: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are free)  Growers would recommend 8 gallons of Growers Mineral Solutions (GMS), which is 91.2 pounds with another 80 pounds of nitrogen to give us 171(91+80) pounds of applied elements. 

       We now have a gap of nutrients of 48 pounds per acre (219-171).  Using the Growers Composition of Soil chart (Section 2) for a silt loam soil, we arrive at 61,725 pounds of elements for an acre of soil that is 7 inches in depth. 

       So, in conclusion if we are going to "wear out" soil by keeping roots in the top 7 inches of soil, we need 1,286 years (61,725/48) for that "wear out" to occur.

Origin

       Studying the early basic scientific research, Dr. Tiedjens realized that all plant tissue was predominately carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and oxygen (O) (96 to 97 percent).  He believed that a very competitive crop could be produced using a small amount of added fertility elements if they were used at the correct time in the plant's life.

       Shortly after World War II, the sale of chemical elements as fertilizer became big business.  The sales tool of the fertilizer companies was to use plenty of fertilizer so as not to "wear out" the soil.  There was very little early research on nutrient removal of crops from the soil. 

       Employing Dr. Kenneth C. Beesen's analysis, Dr. Tiedjens explained to farmers that the elements present in a crop can vary tremendously in amounts ("Crop Yields and Mineral Content").  In addition, Beesen's work demonstrated that if some principle nutrients were low in the soil, the crop would "hog" feed on the other nutrients to fill the deficient nutrient's place. 

       From this, Dr. Tiedjens concluded that the fertilizer industry which was selling nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, wanted to substitute the elements they were selling for the elements they were not selling, such as calcium or magnesium.  Thus, if the soil nutrients vary and the fertilization varies, crop removal of nutrients will vary.

Recent studies

       More recently nutrient management studies have focused attention on crop removal of nutrients.  Those studies also see a large variation in nutrient contents of crops ("Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest").  The authors say the "grain nutrient concentrations can be highly variable even for a given corn hybrid grain in different environments." 

       These differing environments make nutrient removal numbers suspect especially when dealing with high input agriculture.  The same crop yield can give you different extraction numbers.

Run the numbers

       To do some comparing we can use the numbers of the latest study and find out exactly what you may need to extract in nutrients from the soil profile over time. 

       For an example, let's grow 150 bushels per acre of corn.  From Table 3 "Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest", our extraction includes 11 elements (remember the three most abundant elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from Section 2 are free), so, for 150 bushels per acre we would need 219 pounds of nutrients for our crop (Table A). 

Table A: Pounds of Nutrients Needed per Acre to Grow 150 Bushels per Acre of Corn According to "Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest"

Mineral Pounds per Bushel
Pounds per 150 Bushels
Nitrogen (N)
0.615 92.25
Phosphorus (P)
0.4281
64.201
Potassium (K)
0.2732
40.952
Sulfur (S)
0.0506 7.59
Magnesium (Mg)
0.0733 11.00
Calcium (Ca)
0.0132 1.98
Iron (Fe)
0.00168 0.25
Zinc (Zn)
0.00126 0.19
Boron (B)
0.00028 0.04
Magnanese (Mn)
0.00023 0.03
 Copper (Cu)
 0.00015  0.02
   Total 218.50

1This number represents pounds of P as P2O5
2This number represents pounds of K as K2O



       The numbers in Table 3 "Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest" are the middle extraction values; farmers on the Growers Program would have lower extraction values for nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium than the minimum values in Table 4 "Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest".  The other elements for the Growers Program farmer would probably be nearer to the maximum values. 

       Now for the Growers Program to grow 150 bushels per acre we would recommend about 8 gallons per acre of GNS.  In addition, for a grass, such as corn, we would suggest some extra nitrogen if the field's biological life is not active. 

       A normal suggestion for nitrogen by a GMS representative would be 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre if the preceding crop was a legume.  (If the preceding crop was a grass, the nitrogen rate would have to be increased.) 

       So, now we have 8 gallons of GMS, which is 91.2 pounds with another 80 pounds of nitrogen to give us 171 pounds of applied elements.  Thus, we now have a gap of nutrients of 48 pounds per acre (219-171). 

       Now, the agricultural establishment says that the soil nutrient reservoir must make up the gap.  Using the "Growers Composition of Soil" chart (see section 2) for a silt loam soil, we will total up the same elements that are listed in Table 3 "Nutrient Removal by Corn Grain Harvest" of the nutrient removal paper. 

       When we total up those values from our composition chart (Table B), we arrive at 61,725 pounds of elements for an acre of soil that is 7 inches in depth.  So, to fill our deficient of 48 pounds we have a potential in the acre of 61,725 pounds.  Now remember if you are able to get your roots to go deeper than 7 inches into the soil, the reservoir of possible nutrition will also become larger.

Table B: Pounds of Nutrients Present in One Acre of Soil,
Approximately 7 Inches in Depth
Native Material
Pounds / Acre
Available Mineral
Pounds / Acre
 Nitrogen  3,618  Nitrogen (N)
 3, 618
 Phosphate  5,200  Phosphorus (P)1
 5,200
 Potash  35,000  Potassium (K)2
 35,000
 Sulphur trioxide
 8,500  Sulfur (S)
 3,400
 Magnesium oxide
 10,400  Magnesium (Mg)
 6,240
 Calcium oxide
 6,800  Calcium (Ca)
 4,857
 Iron oxide
 60,000  Iron (Fe)3
 1,000
 Zinc  220  Zinc (Zn)
 220
 Boron  130  Boron (B)
 130
 Manganese  2,000  Manganese (Mn)
 2,000
 Copper  60  Copper (Cu)
 60
     Total  61,725

1This number represents pounds of P as P2O5
2
This number represents pounds of K as K2O


       We realize that not all  elements in the soil will always be available.  However, we believe that using GMS and or the Growers Program will allow the soil to release more of those nutrients through a better physical and biological environment.

       In conclusion, if we are going to "wear out" the soil by keeping the roots in the top 7 inches of soil, we need 1,286 (61,725/48) years for that "wear out" to occur (see Tables A & B for calculations).

Show or hide the answer If I put on too much limestone, won't my pH go up extremely high causing "over liming injury" or trace element tie-up?

Short answer

The preferred limestone should have the percentage of calcium close to 8 times higher than the percentage of magnesium.  Limestone with high levels of calcium and low levels of magnesium will not raise the pH of soil to levels where nutrients are unavailable.  To determine the exact needs of their particular operation, a producer must set up comparison plots.

High calcium, low magnesium limestone required
8.2.2-20-ton-lime-photo.jpgWhen discussing limestone, it is important to define the chemical composition of that limestone.  For implementing the Growers Program, the percentage of calcium in the limestone must be to be close to 8 times higher than the percentage of magnesium. 

Calcium and pH
When applied to soil, this limestone will change the pH of the soil much less than a limestone that is higher in magnesium.  According to the article "Rely on pH for Calcium Needs?"  (Section 3), calcium does not make the pH of the soil rise to levels that would injure a growing crop.

Many people have seen the Nutrient Availability chart of Soil pH and believe all limestone will increase soil pHs to levels that create nutrient unavailability.  Limestone with high levels of calcium and low levels of magnesium will not raise the pH of soil to levels where nutrients are unavailable.

Amounts of calcium
At this point, there is some confusion about the Growers Program.  The casual investigator often concludes that the program needs high quantities of limestone to make it a success. 

Dr. Tiedjens was only concerned for the farmer's economic success.  He wanted the farmer to apply only the amount of correct limestone that would improve the farmer's financial footing. 

Comparison plots

High organic matter soils and high clay soils that have strong buffering capacities often require large quantities of limestone.  However, this is not always the case.  Comparison plots are the best method to determine a particular field's needs.

Show or hide the answer Can I use Growers Mineral Solutions (GMS) and get results if I don't apply high calcium limestone?

Short answer

Field experience demonstrates that using GMS in combination with high calcium lime in the soil produces the best sustainable results.  However, there are circumstances where it is not economical to apply lime. 

Without applying high calcium lime, farmers can still have success with GMS.  However, always remember that if GMS stimulates excellent root growth, the growth will be much more successful in a porous soil than in a dense soil.

Field experience

Our field experience has taught us that using GMS in combination with high calcium lime on the soil produces the best results in sustainability.  Many times, however circumstances are such that using both parts of the Growers Program are not possible.  The operation may only use the GMS part of the program.

Balanced fertility approach

In today's agriculture, the fertility emphasis centers on nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  There is very little being said about using a balanced fertility approach.

When the balanced fertility of GMS is applied, either as a starter, in the transplant water, or as a foliar feeding material, the health and quality of the plant is superior.  When the plant is "hog feeding" on individual elements, the imbalanced plant can give high production if no stress is present.  However, under stressful conditions the unbalanced condition can cause severe production or quality problems.

Quality raw materials

GMS is produced with top quality and pure raw ingredients.  Any heavy metal contamination introduced into the plant or the soil environment will weaken the biological complex.  In this situation, environmental stress will affect the plant more directly. 

Thus, in years when the environment remains ideal for plant growth and production, the introduction of toxins is not important.  However, in environmental stressful years, any toxic introductions, past or present, will cause quality and production problems.  Both quality raw materials and balanced fertility influence the long-term sustainability in agriculture.

Using only GMS

There are many times customers use only GMS without using high calcium limestone.  Typical examples include; GMS as a starter or foliar spray on rental ground, and adding GMS as a supplement in foliar herbicide sprays to rented land without applying high calcium lime.

GMS can be used quite successfully without applying high calcium lime.  Always remember that if a clean, balanced, and high phosphorus nutritional source stimulates excellent root growth, that growth will be much more successful in a porous soil rather than in a dense soil.

Show or hide the answer Don't plants have to absorb nutrients through the roots?

Short answer

Since the beginning, vegetative feeding has existed with all forms of plant life.  In the early 1950's, scientists proved conclusively that plants could absorb minerals through their above ground parts.  In general, they proved that 95 percent of the minerals applied to the above ground parts of the plant were absorbed into the plant.  Only 10 percent of the minerals applied to the plants through the soil were absorbed. 

Origins

Foliar feeding has existed with all forms of plant life.  The marine algae and most other aquatic plants live in a one-phase water environment.  The entire plant surface absorbs all the necessities of life, including minerals. 

Leaf absorption research

As early as 1844, published reports demonstrated the use of the salts of various minerals as sprays for leaf feeding.  In the early 1950's, Michigan State University scientists proved that plants could absorb minerals through their above ground parts.  They used radioactive isotopes of the minerals and tracked them with a Geiger counter.

The idea that plants absorb nutrients through their roots is commonly accepted.  Nutrient transportation then occurs to other portions of the plant.  MSU researchers Bukovac, Teubner, Tuky and Wittwer proved that the reverse of this process also occurs: there is an uptake of nutrients through the stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits of plants.

Research conclusions

These Michigan State University researchers stated that minerals are absorbed by the above ground plant parts and move rather freely in the plant.  The amounts absorbed may seem rather small, but to offset that problem, the efficiency is very high.  In general, they proved that 95 percent of the minerals applied to the above ground parts of the plant were absorbed into the plant.  While plants absorbed only 10 percent of the minerals applied to them through the soil.

Show or hide the answer If this stuff is so good why haven't I heard about it before?

Short answer

Growers budgets the majority of advertising funds to the education of our sales force and clientel.  Our main approach to sales has been word of mouth.  Because of this, the opportunity to learn of Growers Mineral Solutions (GMS) and the Growers Program has not been available to some general areas of agriculture.

Growers Philosophy

The theory of GMS and the Growers Program is completely different from the accepted philosophy of the industry.  Over fifty years of experience in agricultural business has shown us that to cultivate a knowledgeable clientel, we must use education to promote our program.

Growers Chemical Corporation spends very little on high priced advertising as a promotional tool.  Instead, it spends a tremendous amount to educate its sales force and its potential and current clientel.  As the Growers philosophy is at odds with the establishment, education is the best option to help customers understand it more thoroughly.

While education is effective, it is a very slow process.  This approach is very different from the glossy and showy methods of advertising used by most manufacturers.  Our conservative, educational approach to sales can sometimes delay general areas from exposure to Growers Mineral Solutions (GMS) and the Growers Program.

Show or hide the answer Why should I pay such a high price per gallon for Growers Mineral Solutions?

Short answer

Introducing Growers Mineral Solutions (GMS) directly to the seed and root or when sprayed on the plant is the most efficient use of mineral resources.  The plant has direct exposure to GMS.  To be effective, the raw materials in GMS must be very clean and contain the smallest amounts of toxic heavy metals.  This extra purification comes with a significant added expense.  The efficiency of using smaller amounts of minerals can decrease input cost while achieving higher quality results. 

The heavy metals that may be present in conventional fertilizer may also affect the biological life of the soil environment.  Lowered heavy metal concentration in the soil environment, can improve the biological life of the soil.  This can improve production with minimal input cost.

A very good reference book that discusses the quality contents of fertilizers is Fateful Harvest by Duff Wilson.

Direct plant exposure requires clean materials

The philosophy of GMS and the Growers Program is to bring a small amount of mineral nutrition to the plant at crucial times in its life cycle.  The minerals are applied directly to the seed, the roots at transplant or on the plant during reproductive growth.  The plant has direct exposure to the GMS minerals. 

Hydroponics background

Early on, Dr. Tiedjens experimented with hydroponics, the science of growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution.  The plants have no soil system to buffer the changes in the liquid surrounding their roots.  To have direct exposure to the plant in solution, the minerals in the solution must be very clean and contain only a small amount of toxic heavy metals.  Larger concentrations of heavy metals cause severe damage to the plant tissue.

Purified minerals are more expensive

To overcome this limitation, Dr. Tiedjens used purified minerals to formulate GMS.  Only then could GMS be used directly on the seed, roots or for foliar spraying.  More energy expense is required to achieve the extra purification.  This is a significant added expense. 

Purified minerals improve product quality and can decrease input cost
Smaller amounts of purified minerals are required to achieve the same or better results.  This quickly recovers the added purification expense.  Many times the use of the purified minerals improves the quality of the finished product.  Depending on the crop and market, higher quality may bring financial benefits, which helps to offset the higher cost of purification.

Heavy metals that may be present in the conventional fertilizer may also affect the biological life of the soil environment.  Many times, by lowering the heavy metal concentration in the soil environment, the biological life of the soil improves.  This provides a soil environment that yields very healthy and abundant production.  Healthy biological life in the soil gives very good production with minimal input cost.

A very good reference book that discusses the quality contents of fertilizers is Fateful Harvest by Duff Wilson.

Document Actions
Sections
Personal tools