The Phosphate Advantage

Phosphorus (P) is considered a primary crop nutrient, along with nitrogen and potassium. Phosphorus is involved in photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage and transfer and many other processes in the plant. Phosphorus improves the quality of fruit, vegetable, and grain crops, and is vital to seed formation. Phosphorus uptake is a continuous process during the active growth period of plants. Phosphorus is absorbed by plants throughout the growing season, with much of the plant’s phosphorus need occurring during periods of fast vegetative growth and fruit production.  Since phosphorus is needed at all stages of plant growth it is imperative that the nutrient be in a plant available form throughout the growing season.

Most phosphate fertilizers combine, or complex, with other minerals in the soil to create compounds that are not usable to plants. This can happen in as little as 4 to 8 days. Pro-Germinator™ contains both orthophosphate, which is immediately available to the plant, and long-chain polyphosphates that are protected by flavonol chelation technology resulting in season long phosphorus availability.

The combination of ortho- and polyphosphates, along with its flavonol chelation technology allows Pro-Germinator™ to provide more nutritional performance per gallon than conventional fertilizers.  That results in having excellent crop nutrition at lower application rates than other phosphate products.  When applied at recommended rates, Pro-Germinator™ is cost effective, on a per acre basis.  Pro-Germinator™ should be the backbone of all crop fertility programs, potentially providing the greatest return on phosphorus investment.

An experiment was conducted at the AgroLiquid North Central Research Station to determine phosphate availability of Pro-Germinator™ compared to other liquid phosphate fertilizers. Pro-Germinator™, 9-18-9 orthophosphate, and 10-34-0 ammonium polyphosphate were applied at 20 lb P2O5 per acre. Plant usable phosphorus in soil solution was measured at various times throughout the growing season.


AgroLiquid on Rural America LIVE

AgroLiquid’s goal is to prosper the farmer while safeguarding the environment. Learn how they are different from any other fertilizer company in the industry today as experts discuss details about their line of high-performance fertilizers formulated with scientifically based recommendations to help growers achieve the best possible production yields while employing sustainable agricultural practices.

Calcium on Apples

Why is calcium important?

Calcium is the third most important element in a plant. And, calcium is the fifth most abundant element on the planet. It makes sense that traditionally, growers don’t apply much calcium, because they assume the plant will get what they need from the soil. But, calcium is usually found in a form that is not easily taken up by plants.

In an apple tree, the leaves, new shoots, and fruit all take calcium and the nutrient will be found in the tissues and the root, but, the fruit cannot compete with the other parts of the plant hence why the fruit often doesn’t get enough calcium. That is why calcium deficiencies are evidenced on the fruit, rather than the rest of the tree. In apples, a calcium deficiency causes a disorder known as bitter pit. Bitter pit is a physiological breakdown of the cell walls in the fruit that occur below the skin of the fruit. For that reason, when scouting for calcium deficiencies, it is important to test the fruit, rather than relying solely on leaf or soil tests.BMSB.-Bitter-Pit-1h84hub

In this particular trial, Horticulturists were testing for fruit firmness, how many apples produced on each tree, and how much the fruit weighs. At the North Central Research Station High-Density Apple Orchard, researchers test approximately 10 apples per experimental plot for firmness. They use a pentameter, which measures the pressure needed to break the cell part inside the apple. They test four spots on each apple, as research has shown there is a difference in firmness between the side of the apple exposed to sun, versus the shade-side. The average fruit firmness is reported.

A trial of the effects of LiberateCa™ in 2015 at the NCRS High-density Apple Orchard in Michigan showed that the apples treated with LiberateCa™ fall close to the preferred range of 14.5 lb – 17.5 lb for fruit firmness, while the untreated trees’ fruit firmness was significantly higher than desired. In addition, the treated trees had more apples per tree, and overall yield per tree increased as well. These trees were planted at 3 ½ feet between trees, 11 feet between rows, with a planting density of 1,100 trees per acre.Ca on apples

“If you can hang two more apples per tree, with 1,100 trees, you have 2,200 more apples – and that means more money in your pocket.” Horticulturist Jacob Emling

Fertilizer Program Sustainability in Corn 2011-2015

Senior Research Manager, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses how and why the lower applied rates of AgroLiquid nutrients are sustainable and more efficient in feeding the plant the nutrients it needs to thrive. In this short video, Dr. Wilhm further demonstrates this through a four-year sustainability study from the North Central Research Station (NCRS).

Download a pdf version of Fertilizer Sustainability in Corn

Research Field Days 2015

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: NCRS Video…on the set

So a couple times this summer at the NCRS we made a video about progress through the season. You can see the first two on the agroliquid web site at the bottom of the home page.  They are NCRS Progress Series Episodes 1 & 2.  Well now we are in field crop harvest, and that would indicate that it was time for Episode 3.  So we did just that last Thursday. Our regular crew from Creative Services was on the job once again.  So it will be good.  And of course it was cold and cloudy, this being fall and all.

I gave the welcome and related progress since Episode 2, which included the Research Field Days. There will be footage of that in Episode 3, so if you were there, check it out soon for your cameo.

One cool new feature that Creative Services has now is a video drone.  I’ve seen footage of what they have done with the drone previously at at the Field Days and was anxious to see it here during harvest.  Here is pilot Mike getting ready for liftoff.  That’s a cell phone on the controls that serves as a camera monitor showing what the drone “sees”.

Up, up and away.

I looked over Mike’s shoulder to see the aerial shots of the combine and scaled grain cart working their way through the plots.  Mike is a good pilot and Episode 3 will be quite a visual extravaganza. 

I was so focused on the video images that I forgot to take a picture of the cell phone monitor.  So here is an artist’s reconstruction of what I was seeing.  This artist is quite good.  It really looked like that. 

Next we went inside the farm office to show Stephanie on the job taking test weight and grain moisture measurements of the corn samples from each plot.  She did a good job on camera, having done this a time or two in the past.  Or maybe it was thousands.  Many thousands.

Couldn’t do an NCRS video without a fruit and vegetable segment.  In something new, Brian gave an overview on strawberry fertility in answer to a video question from a grower.  He also talked about the massive amounts of food donated to the Mid-Michigan Food Bank over the years.  It’s up to around 200,000 pounds in recent years.

So that was fun.  Look for the premier of Episode 3 coming soon to a website near you.

Research Field Day Plots Give Hint of Best Corn Program for 2015

(Note: The Fall issue of the AgroLiquid Quarterly Newsletter just came out.  However there was an error in my article where for some reason the correct picture was not included in the article.  So my descriptions in the article are not clear for the pictures that were printed.  So here is the article in its original form for those that don’t know what I am talking about.  Which is a common occurrence, but this time I had an excuse.)

The recently completed Research Field Days showed AgroLiquid fertilizers in action.  Well maybe action is a little strong, but results of the use of AgroLiquid were clearly on display in many venues.  Take, for instance, one of the research plot stops on Farm 7.  Several different corn fertilizer applications were on display.  There were full rate conventional fertilizer programs for potash/10-34-0/28% plus an all dry treatment.  There was the comparable AgroLiquid treatment along with a treatment with conventional fertilizers, but at a greatly reduced rate of application to closely match that of the AgroLiquid program.  And then there was a nitrogen only treatment, so that the effects of the P and K fertilizers could be measured.  The same treatments were applied last year in this experiment as well, but in the adjacent test to enable a corn-soybean rotation.  On the field day itself, I went into the border rows for these treatments and pulled three adjacent ears as well as some roots that were dug.  They are on display in the picture, along with the yields from 2013 and then the pounds of N-P2O5-K2O for each treatment.  (Note: in the conventional treatments, two years worth of potash is applied after the previous soybean crop for the next year of corn and then the following soybean crop.)


 There is certainly a visual difference in the ears. The full rate conventional and AgroLiquid ears are all larger than those of the N only treatment (4).  Furthermore, the ears of the AgroLiquid treatment (5) are also much larger than the low rate conventional treatment (1), even though virtually the same rates of fertility was applied.  So I guess the adage: It’s nutrients, not numbers rings true here.  The nutrient technology used to make AgroLiquid more efficient is clearly seen.  The roots also showed the Liquid advantage for a larger root system to better explore the soil.  Furthermore, the yield in 2013 with AgroLiquid was greater with AgroLiquid vs all programs, but especially vs the equal rate of conventional.  So let advanced nutrient technology be your guide in 2015.  Higher yields with lower rates (more acres planted between fill-ups) and planter applied P and K to save trips.  Of course the plot harvest coming up later will complete the story.  But indications are strong for AgroLiquid.  So when making decisions for next year, don’t cut what is research-proven for higher yield.


LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Melon & Pumpkin Contest Here in St. Johns

So the weekend before last was the big giant pumpkin and watermelon contest at Andy T’s Farm Market here in St. Johns.  It’s an annual event featured annually here in the blog.  Why?  Because Liquid’s own specialty crop researchers Brian and Tim have entries each year.  Sadly I was away and missed it, but Tim’s wife Pauline provided this photo-account.  Below are some of the giant pumpkin entrants awaiting the call to the scales.  Not sure about the genetics, but I like a bright orange pumpkin compared to the pale ones.  But beauty is sacrificed for size it appears.

 Here is Brian’s pumpkin from Farm 12 of the NCRS.  It was a whopping 779 pounds.  That was an improvement over the previous years and a good sized gourd.  However, first place was 1656 pounds!  And second was 1655 pounds!  That was a neck and neck finish, or maybe stem and stem. Brian finished in the top half of the 29 the entries which is pretty good.  But he has so many other responsibilities at the NCRS that sometimes he missed story hour and morning snack with his pumpkin.  I told him to go out next year and shoot for a thousand pounder.  But he will be back.

But Tim was once again the Watermelon King.  He successfully defended his title with a gushing 224 pound melon.  Tim grew his with AgroLiquid, but is a little tight lipped with all of his secrets for success.  It doesn’t matter, just keep winning Tim.  Congratulations!

So I’m sure that they already have next year’s contest date circled on the calendar.  And you know results will be reported here.  So see you next year.

Key Stages For Fertilization In Fruit Production

Four of the critical stages of high nutrient demand for fruit trees are pollination, early development, mid to late season, and late season/postharvest. During these times, growers should be sure to maintain healthy fertilization levels.

Some tips for nutrient management during each stage of fruit production:

Stage 1: Pollination

Fertilizing for fruit set actually starts the season before during bud development. This year, you’ll feed the buds from the prior season for good fruit set for this season. Fertilization during bud development is important because you can always thin fruit off, but you can’t create blossoms and fruit set if you don’t have it at the beginning. Boron is critical during pollination and early fruit set. Many growers apply a foliar boron spray, particularly during early bloom. Foliar applications are the most efficient method of uptake, and a foliar spray applies nutrient right where it needs to be – on the buds themselves. The buds are a small target, so growers don’t need to apply much. In most cases, only a pound or two of boron per acre per season would be needed.

Fase2 growth nutrients during this phase will stimulate growth in perennial crops such as orchards and vineyards. Fase2 promotes fruit set and bud retention and is intended for foliar applications.

Stage 2: Early Development

Early development is largely about nitrogen and phosphorus, applied to produce a good canopy and for the energy to get and hold fruit set. Overall, fertilizer rates will be based on what’s appropriate for the age of the tree and the results of a soil test.

Stage 3: Mid To Late Season

Calcium and potassium are the nutrients to monitor mid- to late-season. While every variety will need more potassium during this time, calcium is especially important for Honeycrisp apples.

Foliar applications are the way to fine tune a crop, fill in certain growth stages, or deal with a dry period of little water uptake – but start with the soil to get the right balance. As trees will also be setting buds for next season during this phase, micronutrients can be important to apply at this time.

Stage 4: Late Season/Post Harvest

Some of the very early season apple varieties and all types of cherries will have a fair bit of growing to do, even into the late season. For these, maintaining insecticide and fungicide applications, even after harvest, will maintain leaves as long as possible and give trees more energy going into winter. Some growers have also been looking into late-season nitrogen as a way to improve spring flush and vigor.

Throughout the entire growing season, Pro-Germinator and Sure-K are two main nutrition products that support a balanced fertilizer program. Pro-Germinator is primarily used as a soil application, but it can also be applied as a foliar nutrient. It provides season-long phosphorus availability. Sure-K provides potassium for foliar or fertigation applications, which allows flexible use depending on crop or variety. For those varieties that need additional calcium, Liberate Ca from AgroLiquid can be tank mixed with many other products for efficient source of calcium applications.

2014 AgroLiquid Field Days Success


On the heels of twenty years in operation, the largest plant nutrition research farm in the country welcomed growers and ag retailers to its annual field days late last month. The North Central Research Station, located just north of St. Johns, Mich., boasts more than 750 tillable acres of crop research in crops ranging widely from corn and soybeans to apples and zucchini.


During staggered tours, each spanning nearly five hours, attendees rotated through classroom-style sessions at AgroLiquid headquarters, demo farm stops and field tours through corn, soybean, sugar beet and intensive apple orchard production sites. Results from both AgroLiquid and conventional treatment plans were on display throughout the tour. At demo farm stops attendees were encouraged to walk rows, pull up plants and even taste produce — watermelons, specifically — produced with AgroLiquid’s enhanced efficiency liquid fertilizers.


One of the newest additions to the North Central Research Station, an intensive orchard planted in high-density with apple trees and headed up by Senior Horticulture Research Manager Dr. Brian Levene captured the interest of most attendees and spurred many questions. With more than 1,000 trees expected to be in production next year, returning attendees will no doubt be interested to see the results at 2015 Field Day events.


In addition to the research results and demonstrations presented, sponsoring exhibitors such as AgXcel, John Deere Credit, No-Till Farmer Magazine, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, Enduraplas and others were on hand in the AgroLiquid HQ concourse, giving attendees plenty of chances for networking and exploring new options for improving their production practices in 2015. Boxed lunches, snacks and AgroLiquid CEO Troy Bancroft’s homemade ice cream were on offer during and after tours, keeping attendees happy and well-fed throughout.


Attendees were also welcome to take a tour of AgroLiquid’s new IQhub. Slated for its grand opening September 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm, the IQhub is a 9,500 square-foot home to agricultural history, innovation and exploration. Housing 23 museum-quality exhibits, each exploring agriculture from the time of the pilgrims in America through the present day, the IQhub promises fun for both the young and young-at-heart.

If you missed the 2014 field day events, be sure to sign up for the AgroLiquid newsletter to be notified of upcoming events before next year.