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Humates and Soil Remediation
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New Humate- based ROOTEIN™ Fertilizers and the yield of vegetable crops (A comparison effect of a chemical fertilizer and a humate-mineral fertilizer on soil at the end of growing season)

INTRODUCTION (Purpose of the Project):

 

Present-day chemical and mechanical agriculture deals with biologically inactive and physically deteriorated soils. It is an expensive technology which regards soil only as "support" for fertilizers, plants and irrigation water. However, crops are responding less and less to the chemical inputs (fertilizers and chemical pecticides) and, to be able to afford them, farmers need government aid, e.g. subsidies, which increases the debt of farmers and countries.

Plant nutrition and crop production cannot be understood by focusing on fertilizers or soil life alone. In nature, detached factors do not exist, only interrelated systems. Soil life is not something isolated; it depends greatly on organic substances such in complex interaction with the chemical, physical and biological factors of the soil, climate and environment as well as wind protection, shade and other factors. Organic matter is not only a natural form of fertilizer but also the support of soil life, soil structure (pore system), plant metabolism and crop production. Organic matter is the basis of soil productivity. Recently bred crop varieties are high yielding but little adapted to the soil. They need high chemical fertilizer applications. And since fertilization is generally restricted to NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium), trace elements are frequently lacking in soils. This micronutrient deficiency makes plants weak, less resistant and often highly susceptible to plagues and diseases. Mechanized working of the soil (particularly in large-scale monoculture) always favours the same microbes and insects, thus breeding" parasites and obliging a farmer to use toxic chemicals intensively. It's "Agriculture of Consumption" -an agriculture which consumes external inputs; it's not there to produce.

 Chemical fertilizers not only nourish plants and microbes, but also may have harmful effects on the soil and its life, especially when they are very concentrated and water soluble. Acidification as well as neutralization of the soil may be very harmful to microbes, which often depend on a sole enzyme. And enzymes are active only in a very specific pH. Changes in pH slow down enzyme reaction, and microbes have to enter into rest, encysting, or die from hunger. Micronutrients are the activators of enzymes. However, ammonium sulphate or phosphate that are presented in many chemical fertilizers are a very strong biocide, hindering nitrogen fixation and killing nematodes and earthworms, superphosphate has a negative effect on free-living nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Soil microbes and soil animals need mineral nutrients like plants do. The efficiency of chemical fertilizers, however, decreases with decreasing soil life. The most common factors which limit yields are deficiency in trace elements, resulting in deficient plants with low resistance to heat, cold and pests and  compacted, anaerobic soil layers with little biological activity. As the rule, chemical fertilizers do not support the biological activity of soil but have very often the harmful effects on soil microorganisms, especially when they are very concentrated and water soluble

 

There are many brands of “chemical” vegetable fertilizers available on the market. Such brands as Scott`s  Miracle Gro 15-30-15, Tomato Food 18-18-21, Home Gardeners’ 5-8-10 and 15-15-30, etc.  However, all existing fertilizers do not have  naturally- occurring organic materials for the soil quality improve and support soil bacteria. There are no any soil amendments in them- ingredients for making soil healthier. Fertilizers usually do not contain an optimal amount of NPK and ratio:  Nitrogen/Potassium for a certain type of crops (cucurbits, cole crops, leafy vegetables, etc.) and naturally-chelated micronutrients. The following important ingredients are included in ROOTEIN™ new fertilizers:

 

         Humic substances as naturally occurring organic materials for the soil quality improve and remediation (they bound heavy metal and pesticide residues to insoluble complexes). Organic soil supplements and sea products can help also to promote microbial activity in the soil.

 

         Optimal amount of Nitrogen, Phosphates and Potassium for given category of vegetables.

 

         Humic substances as naturally occurring chelates which protect important nutritional elements from leaching and runoff from soil (chemical formulations contain only synthetic product –EDTA);

 

        Natural complete source of micronutrients, especially, in organic              complexes that important for normal plant growth and development.

 

 

“The working formula” of the trials:

 

Scott’s Miracle-Gro 15-30-15 water soluble fertilizer has been chosen as “a comparison standard” for ROOTEIN™ new formulations in our field trials. Miracle-Gro 15-30-15  is one of the mostly recognized and commonly used fertilizers brand in the world. Following are the results of the companies’ field trial of the season 2004 with 5 different formulations of ROOTEIN™ fertilizers. The working formula of the given trials was:

           

  Vegetable crops GROWTH and YIELD: Miracle-Gro 15-30-15 vs. ROOTEIN™

 

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The trials have been run on15 different crops that represent the following groups of vegetables:  Cucumber and Cucurbits (Watermelon, Pumpkin, Squash); Leafy vegetables (Lettuce, Celery, Parsley, Leek, Onion); Beans and Peas; Beats and Carrots; Cabbage; Tomato and Pepper.

 

Pre-sowing preparation of the soil: The experimental plots for the trials were located an area of land of app. 0.25 acre that has never been previously tilled and used for growing any plants other than grass. This rectangular- shape section of land were exposed to open sun most of the day and protected from strong winds by landscape elements (a nearby forest located west of the plots and hedges). The soil of experimental plots was tilled with “FARM KING” Rotary Tiller and cleaned from the weeds  (approximately 90% of the weeds with their roots were remove manually from the soil) on May 27-29 (First preparation) and, then, tilled again with a small garden rotatiller on June 3 and 4 in order to get  “a smooth and even” soil conditions for the subsequent planting of seedlings (Second pre-planting soil preparation). In the most of cases the soil of experimental plots was covered with a special garden plastic that helps to reduce substantially the number of weeds and maintain moisture content in the soil close to the level optimal for the vegetations.

 

Planting of the Vegetable crops and Fertilizer application: Commercially- grown young plants have been planted in the previously prepared soil beginning of June 5th immediately after purchase. Miracle-Gro 15-30-15 and ROOTEIN™ fertilizers were applied in the soil (mixed with moisten soil) at the time of planting. Miracle-Gro 15-30-15 and ROOTEIN™ fertilizers were applied in the soil (mixed with moisten soil) at the time of planting. Miracle-Gro 15-30-15 fertilizers was used based on the Application Procedure provided on the label, for example,15 mL of the product was mixed with 2-4 kg of soil of the experimental plot and a young plant of an experimental crop was planted in this fertilized soil.  ROOTEIN™ fertilizers were mix with the soil and the crops was planted in the fertilized soil as well.

 

Samples of soil have been collected from the experimental plots at the very end of vegetation season (October 2004) and sent to Becquerel Laboratories Inc. (Mississauga, ON) for the analysis of NPK, microelements and heavy metals. The tables below show the differences in amount of essential elements of plant nutrition (NPK with micronutrients) and heavy metals in an average sample of soil collected from areas where ROOTEIN plants were grown in comparison with the soil collected from areas where Miracle-Gro plants were grown.

 

RESULTS

 

In “ROOTEIN soil” amount of Nitrogen and Phosphates was slightly less in “ MIRACLE-Gro soil” whereas amount of Potassium is about the same in both soils. In opposite, the level of Calcium and Magnesium are slightly higher in  “ROOTEIN soil”.

 

II is important that after the application of ROOTEIN fertilizers amount of Iron decreased from 3.29% to 2.25% (more than 1%) whereas as results of application of  MIRACLE-Gro fertilizer amount of iron is remain high- 2.82% and such level of iron is excessive for the plants and may be even toxic at certain conditions (low pH, etc.). The same principle is applicable for other micronutrient and heavy metal- Manganese: ROOTEIN fertilizers  decreased its amount from 980 ppm to 838 ppm.

 

These data are directly correlated with the ability of humic substances of ROOTEIN fertilizers to bind a portion of iron ions and heavy metals in partially insoluble complexes that unavailable for plants. So, ROOTEIN fertilizers are able to decrease the concentration of free heavy metals in soil and their availability to the plants. For example, ROOTEIN Fertilizers decreased amount of the following heavy metals- Chromium, Lead, Cobalt, Nickel and elements of Lanthanide Series of Periodic Table of the Elements such as Lanthanum, Lutetium and Ytterbium.

           

“ROOTEIN soil” amount of Nitrogen and Phosphates are slightly less in “ MIRACLE-Gro soil” whereas amount of Potassium is about the same in both soils. In opposite, the level of Calcium and Magnesium are slightly higher in  “ROOTEIN soil”.

 

II is important that after the application of ROOTEIN fertilizers amount of Iron decreased from 3.29% to 2.25% (more than 1%) whereas as results of application of  MIRACLE-Gro fertilizer amount of iron is remain high- 2.82% and such level of iron is excessive for the plants and may be even toxic at certain conditions (low pH, etc.). The same principle is applicable for other micronutrient and heavy metal- Manganese: ROOTEIN fertilizers decreased its amount from 980 ppm to 838 ppm (see the charts below).

 

These data are directly correlated with the ability of humic substances of ROOTEIN fertilizers to bind a portion of iron ions and heavy metals in partially insoluble complexes that unavailable for plants. So, ROOTEIN fertilizers are able to decrease the concentration of free heavy metals in soil and their availability to the plants. For example, ROOTEIN Fertilizers decreased amount of the following heavy metals- Chromium, Lead, Cobalt, Nickel and elements of Lanthanide Series of Periodic Table of the Elements such as Lanthanum, Lutetium and Ytterbium.

           

The effect of soil remediation is applicable not only to heavy metals but, in some extend, to other elements that may have negative effect on the plant and soil.Barium and, especially Chlorine possess a negative effect on soil microorganisms. As little as 0.1 mg/l of barium is sufficient to damage micro-organisms (Environmental Handbook -Documentation on monitoring and evaluating environmental impactsGerman Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Bundesministerium fr wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) -Volume III: Compendium of Environmental Standards). The chart below shows that ROOTEIN Fertilizers application reduced amount of Barium in soil on 38 ppm whereas Miracle-Gro fertilizers has not changed it at all. Amount of Chlorine in the soil is almost twice higher after the Miracle-Gro fertilizer application (250 ppm in “ROOTEIN soil” vs. 404 ppm in “Miracle-Gro soil”).

 

Conclusion: The tested Humate-based ROOTEIN fertilizers possess a soil remediation properties to some extend. As result of their application an amount of heavy metals such as Lead, Nickel, Cobalt, Lanthanum, Manganese and others decreased in soil. ROOTEIN fertilizers decrease also an excessive (toxic) amount of Barium, Chlorine and Iron in soil. A water soluble fertilizers such as Scotts Miracle-Gro do not possess these remediation properties on soil.

 

 

 

Mail address:

Dr. HUMATE wellcomes any questions and comments from you. Please send him your letters to the following address:  P.O.Box 582 * Maxville, ON *K0C 1T0  CANADA*