Most farms today focus almost exclusively on Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Calcium (NPK). So each year, they find themselves adding more and more NPK to maintain yield.
Farmers today struggle to feed the the ever-rising population with limited resources (Kumari K.A et al, 2014). As much as 60% of the yield of many crops depends on soil fertility. Plant nutrition is the foundation of the production of healthy and high yielding crops. Plants require 15 nutrients which are required in different quantities but all are essential for proper growth and development. The availability of these required nutrients, together with the degree of interaction between these nutrients and the soil, play a vital role in crop development. A deficiency in any one required nutrient or, a soil condition that limits or prevents a metabolic function from occurring can limit plant growth.
However due to unsustainable farming practices, soil degradation has become a serious threat to our continued ability to produce adequate and nutritious food. Soil degradation leads to nutrient loss, leading to reduced productivity of the land. Where soil fertility has declined, as a result of prolonged cultivation or erosion, farmers attempt to maintain crop yields primarily by the application of chemical fertilizer. Most commercial fertilizers available supply only the 3 macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, commonly referred to as NPK. In the short term, a yield response is most readily and cheaply obtained from nitrogenous fertilizer. This practice does not address a critical issue – depletion of micro-nutrients which are just as important as the macro nutrients in crop productivity.
Elmite (Montmorillonite Clay) comes in to solve this problem of replenishing micronutrients. Elemite provides over 60 mineral elements to the soil, replenishing your soil with every essential nutrient, not just a select few, thus restoring its fertility in a wholesome way. Healthy soil means healthy plants. In turn animals and humans benefit. Plants with access to all the nutrients will grow faster, bloom sooner, produce higher yields, have more flavor and nutritional value and be more resistant to pests and disease.
The Current State of Our Soil
The current state of our soils is worrying. Soil degradation has become the rule rather than the exception. Soils in many parts of the world have been reported to have declining fertility due to various reasons such as soil erosion, poor unsustainable agricultural farming practices that lead to nutrient imbalance in the soil. This in turn has led to decreased productivity of land per unit area and given the rising population, our dream of achieving the SDG 2 – no hunger, may just be a dream.
There are 15 vital nutrients required for proper growth of plants. They are all equally important and each serves a specific function. They are required in different quantities – some in great amounts (macronutrients) and some in small amounts (micronutrients). Lack of any of the minerals, or their presence in amounts lower than what is required by the plant leads to deficiency symptoms, growth abnormalities and in extreme cases may lead to the death of the plant. Remember Liebeg’s law of minimum – the growth or yield of a crop is limited by the factor (nutrient) which is present in relatively least amount. It is therefore important to ensure that all nutrients are available in the quantities required.
Plant nutrients can be categorized as:
Primary nutrients – These are required in large amounts. They are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.
Intermediate nutrients – these are required in smaller amounts than the primary nutrients. These are Calcium, Magnesium and Sulfur.
Micro (trace) nutrients. These are required in very small quantities but this does not mean they are less important than the primary and intermediate nutrients. These are boron, copper, chlorine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc, silicon, nickel and chloride.
Role and benefits of the major plant nutrients.
Nitrogen. This is required in the largest amount among the nutrients. It is required for the formation of amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. It is directly involved in photosynthesis, being a major component of chlorophyll, the compound used by plants to manufacture food from the sun’s energy. It is a major factor in vegetative growth (Stem and leaf growth).
Phosphorus. It is a vital constituent of nucleic acids, phospholipids and the coenzyme DNA. It promotes seed germination and is responsible for early root formation and growth. It is involved in protein synthesis and energy transfer reactions. Plant growth factors that have been attributed to phosphorus include increased stalk and stem strength, improved flower formation, improved crop quality and increased disease resistance.
Potassium. Potassium has many functions in plant growth. It is essential for photosynthesis, formation of starches, sugars and carbohydrates in different plant parts, increases disease resistance and drought tolerance and improves firmness, texture, size and color of fruit crops.
Calcium. Calcium is a constituent of cell walls and is involved in production of new growing points and root tips. It provides elasticity and expansion of cell walls, activates enzymes, and influences water movement in cells. In some plants calcium must be available for them to take up nitrogen and other minerals.
Magnesium. Magnesium is a key element in the production of chlorophyll, is a component of many plant enzymes and influences uniform maturity. It improves the utilization of phosphorus and iron in plants. It is also involved in protein synthesis and the transfer of energy within the plant.
Sulfur. It is a key component of amino acids and enzymes, is required for the synthesis of vitamins, helps in seed production and is necessary for chlorophyll formation. Sulfur promotes nodule formation in legumes which are important for essential for nitrogen fixation. It is an important element in the nitrogen cycle.
Boron. Boron plays an important role in sugar translocation in plants, is essential for seed and lignin formation in cell walls. It also plays a key role in the synthesis of nucleic acids, plant hormones and the germination of pollen grains. In addition it plays an important role in regulating hormone levels. Boron promotes maturity and is important in nitrogen fixation and nodule formation in legumes.
Iron. Though required only in small amounts, iron is essential for proper plant growth. It is a component of many enzymes which are associated with nitrogen fixation, lignin formation and energy transfer. It is also a component of chlorophyll. Iron acts as an oxygen carrier in the roots of leguminous plants.
Copper. Copper is necessary for the synthesis of lignin, a component responsible for cell wall strength as well as promoting seed formation and production. It is required for photosynthesis and plays a key role in plant respiration and the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. In addition it helps in intensifying flavor and color in vegetables and color in flowers.
Manganese. Though only required in small amounts, manganese is necessary for various biological systems in plants such as nitrogen metabolism, respiration and photosynthesis. It also contributes to pollen germination, pollen tube growth tolerance to root pathogens. It plays a key role in improving stress tolerance, winter hardiness, drought and salinity stress.
Molybdenum. Molybdenum is required in very small quantities but is vital for symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes. It is also required for nitrogen and sulfur metabolism and pollen formation. In addition, it plays an important role in pollen, seed and grain formation.
Zinc. Zinc is required for protein synthesis, internode elongation and hormone regulated plant growth as an essential component of the enzyme systems responsible for the processes. It is necessary for chlorophyll and carbohydrate formation as well as proper root formation.
Silicon. Silicon is normally referred to as a beneficial element. It contributes to the mechanical strength of plants by reinforcement of the cell walls. It has been found to suppress diseases caused by bacteria and fungi and to increase resistance to attack by pests (Ma J.F. 2004). It is also beneficial in alleviating various environmental and chemical stresses.
Nickel. Nickel has been found to influence plant growth and senescence and iron uptake. It is a component of many enzymes and so plays an important role in many metabolic processes including nitrogen metabolism (Chen, et al, 2009). It also plays a role in plant disease resistance.
Main factors that cause soil depletion.
Soil degradation is a key factor in availability of nutrients for food production. The causes of soil degradation can be categorized into 3 main areas, namely natural hazards, direct causes and underlying causes. Natural hazards refer to the physical environment or conditions that may lead to degradation such a steep slopes and flooding. Direct causes refer to inappropriate land use and unsuitable land use management practices. These include deforestation, lack of practice of soil conservation measures. Underlying causes are the reasons for the practice of inappropriate land use management practices. Examples are high population growth, inadequate land for food production and lack of awareness of conservation measures. These factors can be summarized as below:
Agricultural activities. High population growth has led to pressure on agricultural land. This has led to more intense land use, more ploughing which leads to loss of nutrients from the soil.
Inadequate land cover. Leaving land bare leaves it prone to erosion and nutrient depletion. This is cause by having short fallow periods, feeding of crop residues to livestock and overgrazing,
Deforestation. This is a cause of degradation when the land that is cleared is steep sloping and no soil conservation measures are put in place if it is converted to farming land.
Soil burning as a means of land preparation. This leaves the land bare and destroys nutrients in the soil.
Lack of adoption of soil conservation measures. The underlying causes for these include high costs of labor as many soil conservation measures are labor intensive, lack of farmer knowledge, unfavorable land tenure systems and farmers’ short term perspective.
Low use of chemical and organic fertilizers. Farmers have not been able to replenish the soil with the necessary nutrients after prolonged cultivation. In addition the high cost of chemical inputs and low purchasing power of many farmers also results in low usage of fertilizers.
Excessive use of chemical fertilizers. This results in raising the acidity of soil, leading to low crop productivity.
Industrial farmers have had to look for ways to improve soil quality so as to increase productivity. To ensure that the nutritional needs of plants are met, farmers with have been involved in various practices. One of the major ways used in adding synthetic fertilizers and soil additives. Farmers have been made to believe that synthetic fertilizers are the solution to poor soil fertility (Corriher, 2008). What most farmers do not realize is that most synthetic commercial fertilizers tend to supply the major nutrients, namely Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These fertilizers feed the plant but do not feed the soil. So once a crop is harvested, the soil is in most cases left in a worse state than it was before. Without the micronutrients, crop productivity is low and in addition the crops are nutrient-deficient. This is a threat to nutrition security.
Continuous use of synthetic fertilizers, particularly those high in phosphorus leads to increased acidity in soil, causing the death of some of the soil’s naturally occurring micro-organism that are important in maintaining soil structure.
Research has shown that crops grown with chemical fertilizers can cause various health hazards in animals as well as human beings (Kumari K.A et al, 2014). They have been shown to cause some growth abnormalities. Heavy use of synthetic fertilizers, specifically nitrogenous fertilizers, leads to contamination of underground water, causing a risk to aquatic life.
The short-term measure of combating fertility decline by application only of macronutrients, and particularly nitrogenous fertilizer, is leading to a greater problem of nutrient imbalance in the medium and long term. Among the consequences is likely to be longer yield responses to fertilizers. It is also clear that long term reliance on chemical fertilizers has a negative impact on public health and environment. In addition, continuous use of nitrogenous fertilizers result in economic loss for the farmer due to reduced yields and quality of the products (Olfs, H.-W et al, 2005).
The Natural Solution:
Montmorillonite Clay offers a solution to the supply of most of the nutrients required by crops. It is a naturally occurring clay mined in the rock mountains of Utah. It contains 66 mineral elements, among them the macro micro nutrients essential for proper plant growth and development.
Benefits of using Elemite.
High level of paramagnetism. Paramagnetism refers to certain weak magnetic forces found in natural rocks that aid in plant growth. The high paramagnetic qualities of Elemite help in increased water retention, increased microbial stimulation and improved nutrient utilization. This allows easier movement of vital resources from roots to stems and leaves.
Improved Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). This measures the overall “fertility” of soil in terms of the ability to freely exchange nutrients. Soils with a high CEC (20 and above) have shown up to 3 times more productivity as compared to soils with low CEC (less than 10). Elemite has shown a CEC in the 20-30 range.
Improved pest and disease resistance. Elemite provides access to all nutrients required by the plant, resulting in healthier plants that are less prone to attack by pests and diseases. In addition some of the micro nutrients present in Elemite have some pesticide effects.
Trace Minerals. Soil scientists agree that at least 15 essential nutrients are needed by plants. Chemical fertilizers and conventional agriculture focus almost exclusively on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. After decades of failing to replace the other dozen nutrients, most soils are now depleted. That is why the use of Elemite will produce dramatic improvements in growth, reproduction and overall health by adding back the rare earth elements and trace minerals such as: boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. To underscore the importance of these nutrients, a fruit tree cannot bloom without at least one part per million of boron.
Chemical analysis of Elemite in parts per million (ppm)
Wide array of uses. Elemite can be used in several ways. It can be used in composting, soil amendments, row crops, orchards, feed additives, clay baths, etc. It is just as ideal for greenhouses and kitchen gardens as it is for large orchards and corn or wheat fields. It is packed in different sizes to suit different types of farmers. It is available in 1 ton bulk sacks for large scale farmers and in smaller quantities of 1 gallon buckets for small and medium scale farmers.
The connection between soil and societal issues such as food and nutrition security, climate change and degradation cannot be wished away. Relying on unsustainable short term solutions to soil degradation is also not tenable. That is why we bring you Elmite, a soil improver that supplies all the nutrients required by plants for healthy growth and development as the best proposed solution to replenish soil nutrients. It is naturally occurring, contains no additional additives, is OMRI listed, safe to use, and highly effective in improving the growth rates and the health of all plants. The trace elements found in Elemite also help to enhance flavor and taste of certain vegetables and fruits.
Visit www.elimite.com/therealmccoy to buy Elemite and see actual results of ranchers using Elemite.
Kumari K.A, Kumar, K.N., Rao, N. Adverse Effects Of Chemical Fertilizers And Pesticides On Human Health And Environment. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences ISSN: 0974-2115 JCHPS Special Issue 3: October 2014 www.jchps.com Page 150.
Corriher, T. How Chemical Fertilizers Are Destroying Your Body, The Soil, and Your Food. http://healthwyze.org/index.php/component/content/article/100-how-chemical-fertilizers-are-destroying-your-body-the-soil-and-your-food.html.
Pimental D., P. Hepperly, J. Hanson, D. Douds, and R. Seidel. 2005. Environmental, energetic, and economic comparisons or organic and conventional farming systems. BioScience 55: 573–582.
Olfs, H.-W., Blankenau, K., Brentrup, F., Jasper, J., Link, A. and Lammel, J. (2005), Soil- and plant-based nitrogen-fertilizer recommendations in arable farming. J. Plant Nutr. Soil Sci., 168: 414–431. doi: 10.1002/jpln.200520526
Jian Feng Ma (2004) Role of silicon in enhancing the resistance of plants to biotic and abiotic stresses. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 50:1, 11-18.
Chen C., Huang D., Liu J., 2009. Functions and Toxicity of Nickel in Plants: Recent Advances and Future Prospects. Clean 2009, 37 (4–5), 304 – 313.