Crop Management News
The Importance of Trace Nutrients to Enhance Yield, Quality and Profitability
By Ken Hamilton
Plant Physiology Structure & Functions
Nature uses relatively few minerals to construct a plant—a combination of four (4) atmospheric gases comprises 97.5 percent of all dry plant matter weight. They are carbon (C) 45 percent, oxygen (O) 45 percent, hydrogen (H) six percent and nitrogen (N) at 1.5 percent.
The other five solid elements of phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), sulfur (S) and magnesium (Mg) make up another two percent of dry plant matter weight. Just nine (9) elements make up 99.5 percent of dry plant matter weight. These are the structural building blocks of the plant kingdom—roots, trunks, stems, branches, leaves and eventually fruits, vegetables, grains, forages or produce.
With only one-half of one percent (0.5%) remaining, the other minerals do not occupy a “volumetric” position of any substance in the plants overall weight. Yet their role is equally vital to that of structure/plant function. Trace elements, some 75 of them, are the key to activating the enzymatic operating systems within the plants genetic coding. Enzymes virtually run every living system and physiological function in every single organism on this planet from single celled microorganisms to multi-trillion celled humans. Nothing lives or functions without enzymes and enzymes require activators to function properly and efficiently.
Enzymes are biomolecules (any organicmolecule that is produced by a living organism—
such as humans, animals, plants or microorganisms) that catalyze (speed up) chemical reactions. Almost all enzymes are proteins. In enzymatic reactions, the elements or molecules at the beginning of the process are called substrates, an element(s) or molecule(s) upon which an enzyme acts. The enzyme converts them into different molecules and/or compounds and ultimately the products. In short, enzymes can take elements such as C, H, O and form DNA structure or various carbohydrate structures like monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides. Not only can enzymes combine elements to make new compounds, but they can also decompose existing compounds into simpler molecules and recombine components to meet the needs of the organism for which they function. All life requires enzymatic support. Each enzyme (and there are thousands of them) requires specific trace elements to activate it. For example, Zn does not substitute for Ni nor does Cu substitute for Co or B, etc. In the absence of the trace element, the enzyme either does not function or functions at an extremely low level. Enzymes are intended to speed up the biochemical reaction times by thousands to billions of times faster.
Yield and Quality
How the plant uses (efficiently or not) the structural building block elements is completely driven by the trace minerals via the enzymes. To get the most value from the “N, P, K” applications, trace elements must be present to activate those hundreds and thousands of enzymes that are needed to make the structural and nutritional compounds within the plant. Modern agriculture promotes the idea that N, P, K is the substance of plant growth and nutrition—nothing could be further from the truth. Plants are designed to require a broad spectrum of minerals, both major and trace elements to grow, be functional and healthy as well as reproduce quality and nutrition for consumption and health for a higher life form.
Plants first produce Plant Primary Metabolites (PPM), which include carbohydrates, proteins and lipids (fats and oils). If there are additional energy and minerals available, the plant continues to produce Plant Secondary Metabolites (PSM) such as alkaloids, terpenoids, phenolics and sulfated amino acids. Within the PSM system of plants lays the ability to produce some FIFTY MILLION plus (50,000,000,000+) constituents that make up tens and hundreds of thousands of compounds that add to the collective nutrition and production of plants. Without 75 to 80 or more trace elements, a great many of these PSM compounds will never be produced by the plant. The results are plant diseases, insect attacks, low Brix readings, poor nutrient quality, a lack of flavor, storage and shelf life. Higher organisms that consume these materials will not inherit the ability to sustain health, function or productivity.
Trace elements are key for enzymes to efficiently convert the building block structural elements into plant components, both above and below ground and, even more importantly, assist the plants genetic coding via the enzymatic system to produce the health sustaining, nutrient dense, quality enriching compounds that all higher life forms are designed to utilize.
Manure Management News
Phytase In Swine Feed – Friend or Foe?
By David Widman
The livestock feed additive phytase is commonly used in swine rations today to “unlock the phosphorus” in feed for better utilization in the digestive tract.
Phytase is an enzyme that increases phosphorus availability in swine feed. This allows less supplemental phosphorus to be added, which results in less phosphorus being excreted in the manure. While this sounds like a way to reduce input cost, solve the problem of excess phosphorus in the manure and raise the phosphorus levels in the soil, it’s a double-edged sword. Although it’s a way to help manage the phosphorus in manure and keep levels in the soil more acceptable to regulatory agencies, a problem can occur in certain soil types (a higher clay base) with a higher Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of 35 and above. Increasing soluble phosphorus in these soil types makes it more prone to leaching.
Whereas it’s beneficial to have this bound phosphorus be available for crop use, the problem is that most swine manure is applied in the fall, which can lead to leaching before the upcoming crop is planted. This is where the regulatory agencies have the greatest concern, and why they monitor the phosphorus levels.
A Canadian study done by the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, has shown that certain soil types (heavy clay based) with a CEC of 35 and higher can have higher amounts of soluble phosphorus, which are prone to leaching, when manure with phytase in the feed source is applied. The study was done from frozen manure samples collected in 2009 and 2010 phytase feeding trials. The samples were kept at -20 degrees Celsius until the test was conducted in 2011. The conclusion indicated that caution should be used in modifying the swine diet for phosphorus levels when inorganic phosphorus is removed and replaced with phytase supplementation. They also stated that soil type had the biggest impact on the amount of soluble phosphorus as well as many other overall factors.
Since the soil has the greatest impact on the amount of available phosphorus, it is imperative to understand that high CEC (35+) clay based soils can have more soluble phosphorus when manure, from swine fed with phytase supplementation, has been applied. How can a producer manage this? Managing the biology levels in the soil will provide better use of manure-applied nutrients. This starts with bioaugmenting the manure in the manure storage facility. Having the microbes break down and lock up nutrients is the best way to increase biology and nutrient retention.
Cover crops are another way to keep phosphorus and other valuable nutrients from being leached out of the soil. Using a 10 to 20 species mix provides diversity to the soil biology and improves soil health. Improved water infiltration rates keep nutrients like phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, sulfur and all the others from being washed away since the water goes down into the soil instead of surface runoff into the creeks and rivers.
Phytase is an enzyme that can be managed and may even improve phosphorus availability from bound P in your soil. Managing the soil based on its type, organic matter and current nutrient levels when using bioaugmented swine manure will improve your soil health, organic matter and crop productivity. Variable rate applications allow more precise detailing for various parts of your crop fields – low producing areas get more while high producing areas get less – this is the best way to get the most from bioaugmented manure.
Join us for our Thursday, March 19th Teleconference Call featuring:
Ken Hamilton, Bio Minerals Technologies, Inc., who will discuss the importance of Trace Nutrients to Enhance Yield, Quality and Profitability.
David Widman, ProfitProAG Consultant,will discuss the livestock feed additive phytase which is commonly used in swine rations to “unlock the phosphorus.”
Unsecured and Secured Financing Available for 2015
Contact David Widman (who has over 30 years of bank lending experience, mostly in agriculture, and grew up on a family farm) about either input or operational financing for 2015 from AgriSpan. With qualified credit, an UNSECURED loan can range from $10,000.00 to $250,000.00; secured financing limit based on your operation. Call 507-640-1095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details or to apply.