Soil sustainability requires profitability. No matter how desirable a sustainable program might be it must be tempered by the realities of making a total commercial agriculture program work economically. Growers attempting to deal with this reality often focus on sustainability in a piecemeal manner as they do not always understand the basic rules or guidelines that are required of a sustainable soil program. In this information, we will review the guidelines on achieving sustainability and also report on a new class of sustainable soil nutrition products. In the near future these products will help growers achieve sustainability on a profitable basis and also give growers basic guidelines for the mechanics of achieving that sustainability.
Commercial Ag programs are often unable to profitably approach sustainability due to economic pressures.Time honored practices of sustainability which required land to lay fallow, cover crops along with manure or compost applications are expensive when compared to the rapid prepare- fertilize-plant-harvest cycle of most commercial practice. As a result, sustainability struggles within a marketplace dominated by the need for financial return. Growers get rarely get a premium for crops grown on sustainable soils versus crops grown conventionally. When a grower is faced with the hard choice of feeding his soil or feeding his family, thefamily will win as thesoil ismutein itsdemands and family needs are the first priority.
A new concept in fertilizer manufacturing is attempting to bring about a quiet revolution in the science of sustainability. This revolution will accelerate the realization of sustainable soils by bringing the economics of sustainable level fertilization and soil amendment to a price point below that of conventional fertilizers alone. The vision driving this revolution is the concept to build nutritional products that will allow a grower to achieve a profitable yield of a high quality crop while leaving, after harvest a soil that is improved
in its ability to grow future crops. With these new products, known in the trade as CNEF - Complex Nutrition Enabling Fertilizers, growers will soon be able to build and maintain sustainable soils at a annual cost / acre of applied nutrients and amendments that is equivalent or less than today's conventional nutrient programs. CNEF products offer a glimpse of the future of growing as they are both fertilizer and soil amendment in a single product. Together, in a single application interactive form, these components engender a synergistic
action of the soil that accelerates the microbial action within the soil resulting in increased nutrition for plants. Manufactured with a stable slow release organic base, CNEF can actually grow crops in sand by adding critical organic content to the soils along with primary, secondary and trace nutrients with a single application. High application rates can have startling effects. One California high rotation salad
greens grower starting out with hard pan at one end of a 300 acre field and sand in the other. After 2 tons of CNEF per acre he was able to point out that after a year he can no longer differentiate between the soils at either end of his field - both are now a loam. Soils with high levels of sand and little soil organic matter can flourish and become loamier with repeated applications of the new organic fertilizerssincethefertilizersacttoprovidenutrients and to provide long term organic soil amendments at the same time. Repeated applications actually decrease the need for the use of these products. Once a grower nears sustainability, the amounts of CNEF required drop as the soil is again alive and productive and able to sustain itself with only the replacement of extracted nutrients.
Working with CNEF has provided us with insights that have allowed us to developed rules for sustainability which may be universally applied with or without the new fertilizers. We quickly realized that many growers do not fully understand the mechanisms involved in mineral and organic restoration. Given adequate soil moisture along with temperate soil and atmosphere temperatures almost any soil can be rendered sustainable. Sustainability requires that two simple components be added to moist soil. One of the components
is the restoration of complete mineral nutritional values to the soil. The other component is the restoration of carbon forms of soil acids gels, in the form of humic and fulvic acids to the soil. Complete secondary nutrients, including sulfur, calcium, and magnesium as well as a full complement of trace minerals. In addition, a grower must systematically build organic matter in the form of soil acids to his soil in order to put these minerals to work. Building CNEF we learned that combined mineral components added together in a balanced blend along with a slow release organic base provides a superior means of delivering mineral values to the soil. Molecular structures containing chelated minerals in the soil acid gels are determined by the minerals available at the time of acid structure formation. The basic goal of any grower should be to build nutritionally balanced soil acid gels as these gels offer a long term, slow release source of nutrition for soil microbes and plants.
Complete mineral restoration is essential to oil farmed soils that are to be sustained. Farming is essentially a form of mineral mining. Some have described it as precisbn strip mining, whch it is. as crops systematically remove certain minerals. Mono-culture is the most destructive as it concentrates the removal of the same minerals over and over in a repetitive manner. A tomato graver
who removes a crop of tomatoes from a pece of land has essentially mined that land of the minerals contained within the tomato crop. While the m ine ral vol ue in t he tomatoes prod uced by a single plant oie only a fractbn of an ounce, by the time the aggregate of the field is weighed the amount of minerals mined becomes substantial. Over years, and decodes, the amounts odd to hundred
weights and then tons of minerals. Without mineral replacements, soils ore slowly stripped of minerals. Without complete and full mineral restcratbn, plan tsare unable to sustain their hea It hand will foil from mineral nutrhbnal deficiency diseases that ore the result of disproportionate mineral contents. MoUswill increasinglyappeoron crops as system*: copper and zinc are simply no bnger available
from the soil to protect plants. Land is often labeled as diseased or poor simply due rot he lack of a few nutrents. Without the ability to grow profitable and nutritious crops farm land is moie easily abandoned or turned into pasture. Frequently, after the loss of their top soil structures weakened ordestroyed soils are subject to erosion.