Like a Rock
We work in a world that is completely controlled by biology, physics, and chemistry. That being said, when we apply fertilizer, the outcome of our application is also influenced by those three disciplines. Today I am going to focus on both the biology and chemistry. After we introduce Phosphorus to the soil, we start to talk about Absorption, which is really just a fancy way of saying “returning a nutrient to a native state.” In the case of Phosphorus that native state is rock.
Absorption is the process in which Phosphorus chemically binds to the soil particles and becomes unavailable to the plant. What Phosphorus binds to is somewhat controlled by pH, the lower pH we bind to aluminum, and at a higher pH we bind to calcium and the bond of that is stronger the plants availability to extract it. Somewhere around 75-85% of the Phosphorus we apply is unavailable to the plant in the first year after application. This is the problem we face when it comes to better management of our nutrient investment, and there was a time that we had little influence over preventing these chemical reactions. Thanks to the advancements of chemistry we can.
Avail is that advancement in chemistry, and for some of you, it is not all that new, but for others it is. (Fair warning the rest of the article is going to contain a brief lesson in Chemistry). Avail is a polymer that coats and protects the Phosphorus molecule from the process of Absorption making it about 60-70% more available to the plant in the first year, and allowing you to capture more of your nutrient investment.
The negatively charged polymer in Avail gives the cations like Aluminum and Calcium something else to bond to instead of the Phosphorus. The polymer also has a greater charge or valence, which is the combining power an element has on creating compounds, so the greater the valence, the more attractive it is to the elements or molecules of opposite charge. While in the end still leaving the Phosphorus in a plant available state for uptake. Just imagine it this way, if Phosphorus is one of the magnetic signs you see around the country; that would make the polymer like a magnet that is used to pick up cars at the junk yard.
The beauty is that the polymer in Avail is stable at both ends of the pH spectrum and will last all season long, even when we are applying Phosphorus at the end of one cropping year and are 9-10 months away from uptake in the following year.
The Avail technology gives us options in our application windows and helps us keep ahead of the Absorption/Desorption cycle that Phosphorus has to go through in the soil. There are formulations for both dry and liquid Phosphorus sources and will help with the availability of P early in our starter formulations especially in the areas of CVA that have drastic pH issues. This added availability will increase uptake in the plant leading to stronger roots that are healthier all season long. These benefits have led to an 8.9-bushel increase in yields over 264 trials across the Corn Belt and left less money on the table for you and your operation.
I am taking the week off from videos and will let Neil handle it this week, but I still wanted to take the time to go through the chemistry with you. After all, we can overcome problems with just my finding the right leverage of Chemistry and Physics and today we have that technology, so we might as well use it.