Thursday, April 18, 2013
Question: "This spring I have a company wanting to put a starter fert plot on my farm, I have never used starter. It will be NPK with molasses. I have heard of others using molasses.
The purpose being for a carbon source? Anyone care to explain how this works?"
Replies: "Soluble sugars stimulate N fixation in soil by actinomycetes. This could also explain some soil benefit beyond rhizobia from incorporated clover leaves which are low in fiber and high in soluble sugars. Clover does some neat things to soil N economy.
Some also see improved stand ability/stalk strength from the sugars in say fertigation program.
Like in the rumen of the cow, soluble sugars are part of a balanced diet for soil microbes. Back in the day we observed that soluble sugars in the diet stimulated protozoal numbers/activity...not aware of this proven in soil microbes....but it would certainly be a benefit to soil nutrient recycling....the rumen and soil are so very similar!
As a side note...rumen Protozoa are like an alarm clock in the cow...their activity and numbers increase about 2 hrs before a meal. It may very well be that increased salivation in anticipation of a meal is the stimulus for Protozoa. They feed for about 4 hrs then nap until the next meal. Neat observations and u don't need a high magnification scope to see them!"
"Very well said. I would imagine the company is trying to help the microbes break down the liquid fertilizer as John says, it turns into dry fertilizer as soon as it hits the soil. Think how little nutrient you are putting on with a little liquid compared to the 400 lb dry spread I am normally applying.
The amount of P needed to fix maximum corn rows around the cob is a minute amount and usually only happens in cold or very low P soils which I do plant into. I have used liquid and I have seen a color and health boost but no real yield boost. My yields come from a total soil program, not a little liquid with Molasses.
I stimulate actinomycetes with cover crops, calcium and lots of fertilizer. Build a great big cow rumen in a healthy soil and that tiny amount of liquid won't mount to a hill of beans.
I am not against it but I am not for it, either. Invest that same money in a little calcium and the other 16 nutrients on my soil each year and I get much greener, healthier, profitable crops.
Calcium is King AND Queen here."
I thought many of you would enjoy this conversation.