It All Starts From the Ground Up

Soil is a vital part of our ecosystem. Just like human health, it’s important to keep it healthy all year round. To grow, crops and grasses pull nutrients from the soil – causing a depletion of essential nutrients within the top soil (first 4-6 inches of soil). These essential nutrients: calcium, sulfur, and magnesium, are known as ‘secondary nutrients’, since they aren’t as readily available as the main macronutrients: nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. When these secondary nutrients aren’t replaced, the ramifications are severe. For example – The Great Depression – a decade long economic collapse due largely to a prolonged deprivation and overuse of the soil. Below you’ll find more information on each of these powerful nutrients and the significant role they play in keeping our ecosystem healthy!

RESOURCES

SMART! Fertilizer Management
Calcium in place and soil
Mississippi State University
Secondary place nutrients

Calcium is essential to plants due to its ability to strengthen and form the plant’s cell membrane and cell wall. Calcium is an immobile nutrient in soil and plant tissues, so its presence in the soil is vital to plant growth. Because of it’s ability to help with the enzymatic and hormonal processes, calcium helps increase crop yield and fruit quality. The make-up of calcium consists of positively charged ions which help in correcting soil pH that is acidic; enabling it to bring soil back to a neutral pH level (around 7.0). Having neutral soil helps with the germination of the plants and can allow fertilizers and sprays to be utilized to their fullest potential.

Over the last few years, the occurrence of sulfur deficient soils has increased.  This can most likely be attributed to: less sulfur deposition from the atmosphere and use of fertilizers containing little to no sulfur. Sulfur is necessary for plants as it enables them to produce and form the correct amount of proteins, amino acids, chlorophyll, and helps activate nitrogen within the plant. Sometimes, when a soil is deficient in sulfur, it can be mistaken for a nitrogen deficiency. A plant that has a pale yellowish color in the first/uppermost levels has a sulfur deficiency, whereas a nitrogen deficiency will be seen in the older/lower levels of the plant. Sulfur also benefits the soil. It can improve the structure of compacted clay soils, which in turn improves water and oxygen penetration. It can also help repair soil damage from pets, de-icing, run-off water, and other irrigation/precipitation sources.

As the effects of magnesium are seen in both the plant and animal worlds, it’s importance is becoming more and more apparent. Magnesium is the only other soil nutrient, besides nitrogen, that is found in the chlorophyll of plants; which makes it vital in the metabolism and enzyme systems of the plant. Magnesium is mostly transferred from old tissue to new tissue as the plant grows. You can see this growth by looking at the white veins or stripping of plants as they grow. If plants are deficient in magnesium, they may contain a purplish coloration between the veins. Magnesium also improves the microbial action to help breakdown pesticides and organic matter. Dolomitic lime is one of the best ways to get both magnesium and calcium into the soil. It increases the efficiency of the macronutrients that plants require and can help increase the pH level in low increments.