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Nutrient Densification – Hype Or Fact?
When I first started farming, we had sheep on the farm. A lot of them. Over 400 head at one point. One year we had a bunch of poor feed and we were running that through the ewes. About a month prior to our lambing start date, we had ewes going down with pregnancy toxemia, ewes that were slipping lambs prematurely; lambs that were born didn’t do well, if in fact they lived. Upon further investigation we discovered even though the feed bunks were full, my flock was malnourished due to inadequate nutrition at critical periods. The last 45 days of the 147 day gestation period stripped everything from the moms and they had nothing left to give, so what we were experiencing was the end result of that. That was one of my many lessons in my “classroom in the corral”, and it turned out to be my most costly one also. The following year we gave the ewes EVERYTHING they needed, including the best feed we had and even trace minerals free choice. The result? The following year the lambs hit the ground running, and they went to market faster and healthier than ever before. I started wondering; “If this concept of properly staged complete nutrition works in the animal world, could I see the same effects with my crops?” So I embarked on a decade of experimenting. The mindset I had was that my fields were loaded with “pregnant” grains, oilseeds, etc. Just like a pregnant mom goes into the doctor for regular bloodwork to see if the nutrients, folic acid, etc. are sufficient for mom and her child. If not, she gets supplemented to correct the deficit or imbalance.
This is what we did, and still do on our farm. Each field gets monitored regularly, whether refractometer (Brix Levels) testing, tissue tests, or SAP analysis or a combination of these. We identify what ‘she” needs or is lacking and apply that as a foliar nutrition pass during the growing season so that her “offspring” come forth healthy. This concept also applies to elevated nutrition content as a food stuff, but that will be covered in another article.
The result? Not only higher germination, but much higher micronutrient levels in the seed (Mn, Zn, etc.) which give us consistently high germination tests even under cold, stress tested environments. It only makes sense that if we can boost the vigor levels of our seed, that means our clients get a competitive edge over their neighbors, when all things are equal in every other way. As with all things farming, its not the “magic bullet” of a product that gives you your profitability, but an accumulation of 3% here, 4% there, 2% over there, and so on to give you sustainable profitability. And at Fabian Seed Farms, Nutrient Densification for our client’s enhanced economic advantage only makes sustainable sense.