Monday, June 10, 2013
The nutrient delivery system from geological deposits, going to soil, into our food, and finally nourishing our bodies has been broken. To properly function, this nutrient delivery system must begin with ...Calcium.
Calcium is such an important mineral and is absolutely vital to all biology. Soils display various patterns based on geographical region and past history. I also shared that one of the most common patterns I see in soil is a lack of calcium. I related low calcium to America's faltering health due to low nutrient density of foods. In this email, I want to make the case that if you ignore calcium you do so at your own peril.
Before I jump in, I must say that the pattern of low calcium soil is not universal. There are some soils well supplied with calcium. They may consistently show 5, 10, even 15 thousand lbs. of calcium per acre on the Morgan test. These types of soils are usually found in Colorado, northern Iowa/southern Minnesota, Montana, and a broad selection of Texas. These soils have other problems to deal with like low phosphates and tied up trace minerals. Outside of these areas most soils struggle with low calcium.
Calcium has a tendency to sink out of the root zone and into the subsoil. This problem is exacerbated by high rainfall. Rain is nature's distilled water. As this water comes in contact with soil, its weak acid dissolves a small amount of calcium and carries it into the subsoil. This is why application of various calcium compounds such as limestone and gypsum are needed on an ongoing basis.
Calcium is by far and away the most deficient nutrient in most soils. For most crops I like to see at least 3,000 lbs. available per acre though certain crops such as soybeans prefer less than this. Let's put this in perspective by looking at the units required in lbs. per acre for various nutrients.
Trace Minerals - ones
Nitrogen and Sulfur - tens
Phosphorous, Magnesium, Potassium - hundreds
Calcium and carbons - thousands
While calcium is needed most in the soil in terms of weight it is also most abundantly supplied by calcium deposits all around the world. When I see such a great need and then see such a widespread supply, I see the wisdom of the Creator. All that is needed now is your stewardship. Somehow the calcium needs to be taken out of the ground, processed, and applied on your soil.
Let's look at areas that calcium plays a significant role in:
Soil Calcium to Magnesium ratio - The ideal is 7:1. When it goes lower, the soil becomes sticky. A low ratio also dissipates nitrogen back into the atmosphere causing a need for additional nitrogen. (Corn growers pay attention to this one.) Ca X 1.40 = Calcium Carbonate CaCO4
Needed to Move Trace Minerals - When calcium is abundant in soil and in the plant, its energy helps move trace minerals from the soil into the plant.
Calcium Determines the Volume of Yield - This needs more explanation, but tomorrow's email should help.
Needed for Cell Wall Strength and Integrity - Good quality produce comes from having healthy cells. This same mechanism helps plants ward off insects and disease.
Calcium is Needed by all Biology. In fact, every living cell requires calcium in its structure to be healthy. This includes soil microbiology. If calcium is low, both the plant and the soil microbes compete for the calcium and plants will suffer in the short term.
One of the least understood areas where calcium influences crops and soils is in the area of growth energy." This deserves a future discussion.
My neices husband has been picking my brain a little about calcium and soybean production. Why do my students do better than I do? They are younger and more abt to try what I preach even better than I do.
That is great thing.