BFA Agronomy Questions

Use this forum as a place to post your questions for the BFA Agronomy team to answer. We’ll go over these questions in the BFA Agronomist conference calls and update the forum with answers.

Hi David,

Looking forward to the conference call, Here are some of my questions: I am farming on 20 acres row crops and fruit trees, this is the fifth season for this piece of land. Originally soil tests showed a very low pH of 5 this was limed and has risen over time now showing between 6.8 and 7.6 so ideally I would like to see it closer to 6.5 and I think over time with compost it will balance out to there. we have low total exchange capacity in our sandy loam soil and low sulfur. our organic matter has gone up from 1% to over 2%.
I am wondering what the application rate for elemental sulfur should beif our numbers are between 11 and 40 ppm.

we have high iron and high phosphorous I am hoping that the calcium will balance this out ours is around 800 - 1200 ppm.

Considering gypsum vs oyster shell flour for available calcium but not sure on application rates.

We feel like one of the best practices we have seen great results with has been inline fertigation with kelp, fish emulsion, wondering about bio innoculants and stimulants, any omri approved sources for these.

we’ll talk soon

Have You had experience with carbonitite? Does it affect soil pH? Is it helpful in soils that already have high Ca? does it increase CEC? have you seen it help with disease control via better cell wall integrity from Ca?
Is micronized foliar or soil application for disease control more effective?
How effective on pastures? Have you seen it used in orchards and vineyards? How helpful is it for small grains?
Dan Lefever

I have been reading Gary F. Zimmer book “the Biological Farmer” He discusses how very little calcium in lime is available to the plant. He suggests using hydrated lime and sulfur for some of the needed calcium. Is there any suggested maximum or minimum application rates? What kind of sulfur should I add with it? Do you have any other suggestions on Calcium. How does gypsum rate in availability to the plant?

One more question Is there a formula to estimate the nitrogen contribution from the organic material?

If soil is quite low in main micronutrients would you recommend supplementing foliar micronutrients throughout growing season while I slowly build the soil levels of the micros? One application per crop? Every few weeks?

Hi David, I would like to join the call on March 11. I have recently received a soil report and saturated paste report from Logan Labs. Does it help if I send you the reports before the conference call?

Hello David, I would also like to get in on the agronomy conference call Monday night.
We met after your soil talk at the last BFA conference and quickly went over my Logan labs soil test. I took notes but the encounter was so brief and I would like to confirm what I wrote down. In addition, I also plugged the soil test results into Organicalc from and would like talk about the differences in both recommendations. The following lists are from your recommendations and Organicalcs. Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

I look forward to talking with you,
Shawn Grenier

Davids recommendations:
Boron - #2 (Borax at 15# per acre)
Manganese - #100 of Manganese Sulfate
Copper - 35# sulfate max (water soluble, 5 applications, granular is better, cut in half next year) Split into 5 applications?
Zinc - 35# sulfate (divide if water soluble?) I had an arrow pointing from Zinc to Copper but don’t remember the connection.
Potassium - 50# Sul Po Mag w/epsom salt
Epsom Salt - 25# in late Spring, 25# in early August, 25# in early September
Sulfur - 90# elemental Sulfur to move the Calcium
Silica - Basalt rock dust or blend #250-10,000
Trace element Compost - #250 per acre

Organicalcs recommendations:
Azomite 435 lbs
CalPhos, Soft Rock Phosphate 1320 lbs
Epsom Salts (see note) 195 lbs
Biomin Copper (4% Cu) 90 lbs
Manganese (Mn) Sulfate 78 lbs
Zinc (Zn) Sulfate 40 lbs
Borax 14 lbs

Continuing the discussion from BFA Agronomy Questions:

  1. I appreciated the information and connecting with everyone on the last call. I am putting a lot of effort in learning the art of Agronomy, it is such a big subject. I am using Michael Astera book the Ideal soil. I think this book is a great place to start. I am wondering if you would have other resources that you would recomend for details? I have read Zimmerman’s, Kinsley’s, and Anderson’s books which are a wealth of information however I am looking for details. Details like how to address nitrogen needs, maximum application rates of different materials, target soil solution concentrations of trace minerals like cobalt. I am wondering if you would have a list of resources you use?

  2. Could you discuss different ways to apply boron? maybe the good, better, best and worst ways?

Thank you in advance.
Scott Maricle

Rick, please feel free to send the soil reports. No guarantee we’ll have time to go over them but at least we’ll have the option.

Which micros and how low? But in general, yes… foliar application (and soil drench) can definitely help make sure your plants have what they need until your soil is better balanced. My protocol of choice (especially for valuable crops… veggies, fruit… usually not justifiable with pasture, commodities, and hay) would be weekly application of something like Plant Sure and Mikronite from Agridynamics.

But a couple (monthly?) or even 1 application can certainly help.

Hi, having a lot of problems with potato beetles for the past few years.
We’ve got about 1/3 acre organic potatoes. Sandy loam soil, hot rainy climate. Fertilized with compost and chicken manure granules.
I’ve been amending sulfur and boron on this soil as per BFA suggestions for 2 years. Also have done 2x foliar applications of Epsom, Molybdenum, Boron and molasses (I have the amounts marked down at work) as suggested by Kempf at the conference last year. Made the plants look good for a bit but didn’t keep off the bugs.
Beetles were off to a slow start but now they’re defoliating quite efficiently. The only organic pesticide that worked (spinosad) didn’t have enough of an effect to slow them down. Kinda desperate, I lost the whole crop last year (which accounts for large population this year.)

Any ideas to try? Any help would be greatly appreciated.