Balanced crop nutrition is the most critical factor when it comes to yield. It all comes down to two primary elements: managing soil fertility and understanding the nutrients needed for the plant to grow. Developing a crop nutrition plan is essential to creating a high-yielding, sustainable crop.
There are 17 necessary nutrients needed for optimal plant growth. Lacking just one of these nutrients will result in delayed development and negatively impact the yield. These nutrients can be separated into two primary groups: macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients can further be separated into three primary nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and three secondary nutrients, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The three primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) are needed more than the secondary nutrients. Micronutrients such as boron and zinc are required in much lower quantities but are still essential to the plant’s overall health.
Understanding which nutrients the soil is and isn’t getting is vital in knowing what next steps to take. A soil test will provide an in-depth analysis of the soil’s nutrient intake. The ideal pH for soil should be at a 7.0 neutral state. A balanced pH allows for the plant to receive more nutrients and grow efficiently.
Because of the nature of organic matter and minerals, the soil is broken down over time and turns acidic. Other reasons for acidic soil include excessive rainfall or irrigation. If soil is acidic, it causes natural deficiencies to the soil, literally blocking the nutrients from entering the plant. Getting a soil test done regularly will show what the overall soil pH is and its nutrient intake.
Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC)
Cation Exchange Capacity is the number of nutrients the soil can hold. The key cations that make up a majority of the soil are:
- Calcium, which should make up 70%.
- Magnesium, which should make up 15%.
- Potassium, which should make up 5%.
- Hydrogen, which should make up 10 to 15%.
- Sodium, which should be at 2% or less.
Hydrogen is the ion that causes soil acidity, so the more hydrogen in the soil, the lower the pH. To solve this, cations need to be added to displace the hydrogen. In contrast, sulfur will remove cations. So, for high pH soil, added sulfur will lower pH.
After you have a basic understanding of your soil test results, it’s time to decide which fertilizer to use. AgriTec offers an array of fertilizers to solve your soil’s pH problems quickly, efficiently, and affordably.