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EVERAL soils on the planet have
remained immensely productive for
thousands of years, without a single
application of nitrogen.
How? Answer: nitrogen-fixation.
Soil bacteria, when provided with the right
conditions, can convert atmospheric nitrogen
into plant-available ammonium nitrogen.
But there is a recipe required to tap into this
'free gift' and the ingredients were all present
in these very productive soils.
There are five ingredients in the recipe - a
good calcium-to-magnesium ratio to deliver
oxygen to the nitrogen-fixers; a supply of sol-
uble phosphate to fire the enzymatic reaction
required; cobalt, a trace element which is like
mother's milk to nitrogen-fixers; and the two
micronutrients needed to make the nitroge-
nase enzyme that facilitates nitrogen fixation -
iron and molybdenum.
Iron is the most abundant mineral in the
universe but molybdenum is missing in most
of the soils we test from around the globe.
This often-neglected trace mineral can dra-
matically reduce your fertiliser costs, decrease
insect pressure, increase shelf-life of your pro-
duce and even increase yield by as much as
600 per cent with just handfuls required for
We like to see a minimum of 0.5 ppm of
molybdenum in our crop monitor test but this
is rarely achieved.
If molybdenum is not present in your soil,
perfect soil partnerships will fail.
If you don't have enough molybdenum pre-
sent you will always need more nitrogen from
a bag and these petro chemical-based fertilis-
ers are destined to rise and rise with the onset
of Peak Oil.
There is a suggested maximum application
rate of just 2 kilograms of sodium molybdate
a hectare and even at this rate you must be
careful to avoid inducing a copper deficit in
crops and livestock.
If soil copper levels are marginal, molybde-
num can serve to antagonise copper uptake
and reach the tipping point where copper now
becomes an issue.
In some low-copper, broadacre situations, it
may be preferable to soak the seed with a 0.1
per cent sodium molybdate solution.
• Need to know more?
Bio-Tech Organics 08 83808554 or senior
consultant John Norton on 0412 305 158
A simplistic NPK approach
to soil testing has given way
to an understanding of the
importance of trace
minerals such as
molybdenum in plant
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