Thursday, March 4, 2010

Important Soil Elements

Of the ten or eleven chemical elements apparently necessary for plant growth, only three are liable to be lacking in sufficient quantities in the soil. These are nitrogen, phosphorus — measured as phosphoric acid - and potassium — measured as potash. The fertilizing value of barnyard manure depends upon the amount of these ingredients contained. Commercial fertilizers used in enormous quantities in the older agricultural sections of the eastern and southern states supply one or more of these three elements.These commercial fertilizers have a well-established market value which depends upon their content of these three elements. Each bushel of wheat, for example, takes from the farm fertility that would cost 27 cents if replaced in the form of commercial fertilizers. A bushel of corn removes fertility worth, on the market, 23 cents. A ton of alfalfa hay sent to market carries with it fertility worth $10.95 on the market.

Dairy products, however, take but little from the farm in pro¬portion to their selling value. Milk carries from the farm about 13 cents' worth of fertility in each 100 pounds and taxes the fertility of the farm more greatly than does the sale of any other dairy product. Even then, at $2 a hundred for each dollar's worth of fertility sold in milk an income of $12.60 is received, while with corn at 75 cents a bushel each dollar's worth of fertility brings only $2.65 when sold. The sale of butter or cream takes from the farm BO little of value as a fertilizer that it is hardly worth considering. Since butter fat contains only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, it has no value as a fertilizer. The only element of fertility in butter is the small amount of nitrogen contained in the curd, amounting in value to only 64 cents per ton, while the market value of this amount of butter at 35 cents per pound is $700.


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