Calcium Products - Items filtered by date: December 2007
Calcium Product 98G


Calcium Products - Items filtered by date: December 2007

Soil Biology - Azotobacter

We talk a lot about soil quality and soil biology. When we hear soil biology, earthworms and rhizobium are the first things that come to mind. There are many other soil life forms that deserve our attention. I will present information on the most beneficially ones over the next few months. As fertilizer prices continue to raise, it will be important to not only feed the crop, but also feed the organisms that enable the plant to access those high priced inputs.

I present Azotobacter

Azotobacter is a bacterium that can fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil without the aid of a legume. It is a great source of nitrogen to meet the needs of crops, has the capability rejuvenate the soil, and provides nutrients for other microbiology to max out nitrogen fixation. Its main fuel is carbon (organic matter), but it also requires calcium, and micronutrients for nitrogen fixation.

Besides N fixation Azotobacter improves seed germination, produces plant growth promoting hormones, and fungicidal substances. Azotobacter is the heaviest breathing organism and requires a large amount of organic carbon for its growth. It thrives in alkaline soils and is less effective in soils with poor organic matter content, low pH and high salts.

Azotobacter produces Thiamin, Riboflavin, B12, B1, Biotin, Gibberellins, and Cytocinins. Azotobacter produces substances that are required for Rhizobium bacteria, and Mycorrhize growth. Rhizobium is primarily responsible for nitrogen fixation in legumes. Plants growing in the presence of Mycorrhize have improved nutrient and water uptake, disease resistance and superior growth.

Azotobacter also has a symbiotic relationship with Phosphobacteria. Phosphobacteria as it’s name implies transfers phosphate from insoluble soil particles directly to the plant in soluble from. Azotobacter and Phosphobacteria fix phosphate more efficiently together than alone. Phosphobacteria alone increased potato yields by 6%, while together with Azotobacter increased yields 33%.

Ensure that your not missing out on free nitrogen, keep your pH at 6.5 or higher, supply the necessary carbon and calcium that this extremely beneficial bacteria needs with SuperCal 98G pelletized lime.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!   


Nebraska Ag Business Show

This week Calcium Products attended the Nebraska Ag business trade show in Omaha, NE. The show is closed show and you must register to attend. We had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.


Midwest Labs presented information on lime quality. This can be confusing for many agronomists as well as farmers. They did a great job explaining why the fineness of the product is more important than the TNV. For example you can have 3 lime sources;

    SuperCal 98G    8 mesh ag lime    60 mesh ag lime 
 % TNV






9.96 *


* not a misprint, it's acctually that ineffective.

ECCE is measured by taking the TNV times a fineness factor. If the product is too coarse it simple does not work, no matter how much you put on. You can look up the quality of your ag lime on our website here, if you can’t find it on one of those reports, Midwest Labs has a great program for testing the quality, or lack of it, of your ag lime. One last point, SuperCal 98G has always tested greater than 91% ECCE and less than 1% moisture.


Dr. Ray Ward of Ward Labs explained why it takes more sulfur on No-till acres. Here are some points I took away form Dr. Wards presentation:

You can’t build organic matter (OM) without sulfur
It takes 140 lbs of sulfur to build 1% organic matter, it has to be stored in the soil, if it leaches or volatilizes it does not do you any good.
When sulfur breaks down in anaerobic conditions it volatilizes off as hydrogen sulfide. One of the main reasons hog pits smell so bad.
In no-till OM does not breakdown quickly in the soil. OM has to decompose to release the sulfur stored in it. Since it takes longer to decompose in no-till crops are more likely to show sulfur deficiency.
Fertilizing with a sulfate source of sulfur close to planting can drastically decrease sulfur deficiency and increase yields.


One of the new friends we meet this week was Agronomic Solutions. They specialize in all types of precision ag services and products. They work with both growers and retailers, to offer unbiased solutions and services tailored to your needs.

Offering an array of services and products; from GPS soil sampling, crop scouting, GPS boundary measuring, Agronomic consulting, and GPS equipment sales and support. They can help make sure you are getting the most out of those expensive fertilizers. Many of our dealers are already offering their services, contact you fertilizer dealer or check out their website for more information.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!   


Risk management through soil sampling

For many farmers this year holds more uncertainty than any in recent history. Extreme volatility in the markets, outrageous fuel and fertilizer prices, shortages of inputs, sky-high rent, and impending drought from speakers like Elwynn Taylor, why even put seed in the ground? While it is easy to focus on the negatives, don’t forget to stay positive, have a detailed plan in place, and stick to it for success.

One major components of any yearly plan is your fertility management plan. During droughty periods, or even when plenty of water is available, full yield potential is not realized if soil fertility is poor. With high input prices and talk of drought it can be tempting to cut corners, and pull back on fertilizer. The best way to lower risk is working to make sure your soil nutrients are in balanced in the proper amount and placement is timed for optimum uptake.

Having your soil nutrients in the optimum amounts (not sufficient) will;

Increase water infiltration

Stimulate root growth deeper and fuller to access water and nutrients

Increase grain filling and yield

The starting point for any proper fertility management program is a Full Soil Analysis. Grid sampling is a great way to apply lime, P, K, S, Zn, but if that is all your testing for you’re missing at least 11 other key components of yield. You might even find that one of the micros will boost your yield for less than additional units of N, P, and K. The cost of doing a full soil analysis on every grid could be the best money you spend this year, but I know that cost scares people. At a minimum pull a full analysis on a portion of grids (every 5 or 10 grids) so at least you have a baseline. Having a full analysis run is one of the best ways to make sure that your supplying your crop the right nutrients in the right amounts.

With N, P, and K ranging from $500-$800 per ton, can you afford to apply more than is needed for proper fertilization?

Here are three examples of things you can adjust in your fertility management that you can only figure out by doing a full analysis.(Courtesy of Midwest Labs)

If P1:P2 ratio is greater than 1:2, you may see; a greater response to starter as the ratio increases, increasing response to the use of sulfur and zinc, when the P2 is over 50 ppm, one can expect greater response to Zn.

CEC, Cation Exchange Capacity measures the soil’s ability to hold nutrients. A good rule of thumb is for each point of CEC your soil will hold 10 lbs of N. So if you have a CEC of 5 your soil should hold 50 lbs of Nitrogen at one shot, if you have a CEC of 25, your soil should hold 250 lbs of N at one time. This is just a general guideline, but if you don’t know your CEC how do you know if the N you applied will be available to your crop.

Soluble Salts, this is a must every time you sample. While extremely low amounts do not have a direct impact on plant health, the amount of water that infiltrates into you soil has a big direct impact. Soils with 0-.04 mmohs/cm are subject to dispersion and sealing. 

Reduce your risk and get your soil sampled!



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!   


Will your soil respond to SuperCal SO4

Soil amendments can be tricky; this is more due to the fact that soils and fertility contain so many variables. The best starting point is to have a complete soil analysis taken, and if your an irrigator a complete water analysis will also be helpful. Knowing only the pH or phosphorus and potassium levels is not enough to determine proper fertilization.

Once you have your completed soil analysis back, here is a list of items that can give you an idea if SuperCal SO4 will increase your yields.

1. When the soil pH is over 8.2 and maybe even if it is less.
2. When the subsoil pH is lower that 5.
3. When the soil particles disperse when water is added.
4. When water puddles on it.
5. When there is water logging in the soil.
6. When the soil crusts after irrigation or rain.
7. When there is excessive cracking of the soil after irrigation or rain.
8. When the soils contain clays that swell and contract.
9. When the soil contains clay that is very dusty when dry.
10. When intense rain falls on soil that is not acid and where nearly all solutes may be leached from the soil.
11. When no-till is used.
12. When organics (manure, composts, etc.) are simultaneously applied to the soil with gypsum.
13. When crops require the development of fruits or seeds.
14. When sulfur is deficient.
15. When exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) is over 3 and defiantly if it is over 9.
16. When irrigation water contains substantial amounts of bicarbonate.
17. When irrigation water contains less than 200 parts per million of salts in solution (<0.3 mmho/cm).

Some of these problems can be corrected with as little as 100 pounds per acre, while others may take a few hundred pounds per acre. If your farm has one or more of the above conditions SuperCal SO4 deserves to be part of your regular fertility program.

Taken as an excerpt from Soil Conditioner and Amendment Technologies Volume I.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!   


Don't be a More-on

Nationally recognized high yield soybean grower Ray Rawson once said “Don’t be a moron and think you get high yields by putting more-on.”

If 100 lbs of K is good 300 lbs is better, right?

I have had a number of farmers ask me at shows, “How much fertilizer do I need for this crop?”
Many are confused when I tell them, “I don’t know, do you have a soil analysis?”
Many reply with “No I haven’t.”
It really floors them when I tell them, “Without a proper analysis nobody can make an accurate recommendation.”

Not enough N, P & K is generally not your most limiting factors.* Making those nutrients and the 13 others available to your plants is. When was the last time a full soil analysis was taken on your farms?

With the price of N, P, and K going through the roof and continuing out of this world, does it really make sense to base your nutrient recommendations on 10-year-old information, how about 2-year-old information?

If your consultant makes a fertility recommendation without a proper soil analysis, fire that salesman, and find a proper consultant. With today’s input prices you cannot afford to work with someone that does not know how to read a soil analysis and make proper recommendations.

Did you know that adding sulfur makes your nitrogen work more efficiently? Having enough calcium in the right ratios helps to reduce nitrogen volatilization and leaching. Adding a high quality EDTA manganese when spraying glyphosate can reduce soybean “flash” and reduces stalk rots in corn. Low or high pH reduces availability of fertilizers, and decreases nodulation.

Don’t be a more-on, take proper soil samples, provide your crop with the proper amount of nutrients in the right amounts, and take more yield to the bin.


*If your thinking weather is your most limiting factor, you might be right. That is out of your control, but proper plant nutrition is not. Even in poor weather, properly managed crops will always out yield poorly managed crops.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!


Increased costs next year....

In an article in Corn E DigestOSU Extension Economist Barry Ward says that corn and soybean production costs are expected to increase 24-35%. He follows up with some steps to cut costs.

Mr. Ward why not suggest that farmers make what fertilizer is already in the soil available by liming?

We've discussed this before

At a 5.5 pH, 25% on Nitrogen and Potassium is not available to crops. Over 50% of phosphorus is not plant available.

Seed selection is important, but pH is more important. At a 5.7 pH you lose 17% of your corn’s genetic potential, before it’s planted and it doesn’t matter what hybrid.

Lime price have remained relatively stable compared to other fertilizer products.

Does it really make sense to continue to dump high priced acid and salty fertilizer on you ground when it cost $400-500 per ton? So you bought it a little cheaper in the fall, if 25-50% is not available to your crop, that’s like paying more up front for less.

We know that proper soil sampling, keeping pH above 6.5 (for corn), having proper levels of micro and secondary nutrients (not adequate) will produce higher yields for less than blasting the soil with P and K, even when it was cheap!



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!



Lots of rain last fall, long periods of snow cover reducing soil freezing, the potential for excessive spring moisture due to melting snow, Elwynn Taylor telling us were in the 19th year. What do they have to do with each other, extra compaction compounded by the threat of drought.

Causes of Compaction:  

Raindrop impact - This is certainly a natural cause of compaction, and we see it as a soil crust (usually less than 1/2 inch thick at the soil surface) that may prevent seedling emergence. Having optimum amounts organic matter and calcium can alleviate crusting.

Tillage operations - Continuous moldboard plowing or disking at the same depth will cause serious tillage pans (compacted layers) just below the depth of tillage in some soils. Corn roots have a penetrating force of 350-400 lbs/sq in. Alfalfa roots can exert up 700 lbs/sq in. Many tillage compaction layers can exceed 750 lbs /sq in of force to penetrate.

Wheel traffic - This is without a doubt the major cause of soil compaction. With increasing farm size, the window of time in which to get these operations done in a timely manner is often limited. The weight of tractors has increased to 20 tons today, from less than 3 tons in the 1940's. This is of special concern because spring planting and fall harvest is often done before the soil is dry enough to support the heavy equipment.

Minimal Crop Rotation - The trend towards a limited crop rotation has had two effects: 1.) Limiting different rooting systems and their beneficial effects on breaking subsoil compaction, and 2.) Increased potential for compaction early in the cropping season, due to more tillage activity and field traffic.

A farmer in Minnesota that has been using SuperCal SO4 and deep tillage for a number of years has reported that his end rows are now higher yielding the middle section. I have recommended that he till half and not use SO4 on that half, use SO4 and not till on the other half. Since SuperCal SO4 “chemically” loosens the soil, and adds soluble calcium and sulfur, I expect higher return on the acres that receive SO4.

A little compaction is good, as it speeds the rate of seed germination because it promotes good contact between the seed and soil. Corn planters have been designed specifically to provide moderate compaction with planter mounted packer wheels that follow seed placement. Too little seed to soil contact can result in rootless corn syndrome.

Soil bulk density is a measure of the weight of the soil per unit volume. The greater the weight of a substance needed to fill up a certain amount of space the greater the density. The more air in a given space the lower the density. Think of a pound of feathers and a pound or rock. They weigh the same but the feathers will take up a lot more space (volume) than the rocks.

While soil bulk density is rarely measured it has a major impact on root growth.

Compacted soils have a very high bulk density reducing root growth. Soil compaction in the surface layer can increase runoff, increasing soil and water losses. SuperCal SO4 provides valuable calcium and sulfur increasing organic matter, and soil oxygen reducing bulk density. This increases water infiltration, and root proliferation, allowing your crop to access more nutrients and water, resulting in a healthier crop, better yields.


On a personal note...

It has come to my attention that I have not shared enough about myself on our blog. This is mainly due to the fact that I figure everyone is busy and I don’t want to waste your time talking about myself.

On New Years Day our marketing consultant Michael Libbie, “tagged” me.
The idea is to link to the person who tags you, then to share seven (7) random or little known things about you and finally tag seven (7) random folks at the end of the post.
So here it is.

Random Facts:

1. I love playing sports, don’t much care to watch them, with the exception of college football.
2. I tried bull riding; it’s how I got the scar on my lower lip.
3. After college I was assistant manger at the Ranch Bowl in Omaha for a year.
4. I know more useless information than a person should
5. I enjoy home improvement projects, though they usually resort to a trip to the emergency room.
6. My wife and my father are bankers
7. I hate balancing my checkbook

Random Folks:

1. Brent Pohlman, Market development manager, Midwest Labs. They do a great job with soil testing, not to mention water, feed, fertilizer, and fuel.
2. Dan Davidson, DTN Agronomist, and blogger. I enjoy reading Dan’s articles.
3. Gary Coates, Agronomist, Agronomic Solutions. I always enjoy talking with Gary about what’s going on in the fields during the growing season
4. Matt Nutzman, Owner Advanced Health Plans. Matt does a great job providing affordable health insurance for individuals and small business.
5. Arthur Wallace, Owner, Wallace Laboratories. Arthur has written many books on the benefits of gypsum and soil amendments.
6. Seth Godin, best-selling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. I love reading Seth’s blog and books. The trick is making the leap from what he’s talking about and applying it to agriculture
7. Bill Caskey, Bill is a sales development leader and experimenter. I really like the way Bill approaches sales, if there is a need, great, if not, no big deal.

I hope this wasn’t a waste of everyone’s time; we’ll be back with applicable information very soon!



 The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

Subscribe to this RSS feed


Maintained by our team of experts, we have a wide array of blog articles from our experts and guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming and growing tips, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

  1. Categories
  2. Archives