THE MAGIC OF SULFUR
Our shared goal at Compost Solutions, Inc is to reduce synthetic inputs that negatively affect soil biology.
One major obstacle is excess soil Magnesium because it effects how much Nitrogen is needed to grow your crop. Good soil Calcium levels mitigate this somewhat but it’s difficult to have good Calcium levels with high Magnesium. Most all soils worldwide have excess Magnesium (Mg), however, some don’t. A good soil test is needed to confirm.
The higher the Mg level, the more Nitrogen (N) is needed, some of it in excess. Some of this excess Nitrogen appears in the plant leaf thru “ luxury consumption “ as funny proteins which insects can detect and are attracted. This requires synthetic inputs to addresses these issues. This is why multiple N applications are mandated to address growing season (crop load) so that excess N can be kept to a minimum. That said, a relentless attack on soil Magnesium is required. This is accomplished thru applications of Sulfur which combine in the soil with Mg in a soluble form and is leached from the soil profile.
Excess magnesium will reduce potassium availability. Having a soil with too much magnesium will require more nitrogen because the excess magnesium makes the soil too tight. Excess magnesium is what makes clay soils “tight”, restricting air and water availability, water drainage, root development and restricting microbial activity and organic matter decay.
Ref: Balancing Soil Using Organic Minerals.
You may want to consider using Sulfur, Sulfur and more Sulfur every chance you get.
There are many ways to accomplish this within your normal fertilizer practices. Fall is the perfect time to start. If applying lime for Calcium, the Sulfur can be added separately with a Vicon spreader at the rate of 50 pounds of Elemental Sulfur. When soil Calcium is balanced, fertilizer rates of Gypsum can be added to help keep Calcium balanced but it will also add Sulfate Sulfur. (As a reference, 50 pounds of elemental Sulfur equates to 850 pounds of Gypsum in Sulfate Sulfur.)
Again, Fall is a great time to start with more added to walnuts in April with Sulphur of Potash (SOP) and Ammonium sulfate. The timing for almonds is a little different, but the same principle. A Summer application with another 50 pounds would be a help in reducing excess Mg. Elemental Sulfur rates greater than 50 pounds becomes a bio-side as its breakdown product is sulfuric acid. This is the reason for the low rate.
Reducing soil Mg results in a “two-fer” as it reduces pest and disease issues and allows you to reduce your applied Nitrogen as well.
Need More Information?
Contact: Gary Foster
Good reference: Rebuilding Soil Fertility, Kinsey Ag