IAL past,  present, futureWhat are we learning from our lab?

In the past few months we have been doing a lot of research on the mixing of calcium and phosphorus. As most of you know, this is not an easy job, and if you have accidentally mixed them together it was an experience you won't forget. I remember four hours of my life with a shovel and hoe trying to remove cottage cheese-like material from a 1300 gal. tank.

Why is it important to mix these together? When we study what Dr. Ream's taught about foliar sprays, he always wanted some phosphorus or soft rock phosphate in the spray. This was a problem for him, because the soft rock was not easily sprayed or handled. Also, the soft rock was not easily absorbed by the leaves of the plant. The phosphoric acid was ideal for the absorption by plants, but didn't mix well with calcium.

When we study how Dr. Reams rated the different elements according to his Biological Theory of Ionization, we have two complete opposites: one turning clockwise and one turning counterclockwise. This gives a tremendous energy release to the plant when these two elements are sprayed together. The problem has always been that when they were mixed, they formed tricalcium phosphate, which was not readily taken in by the plant.

I have seen many ingenious ways of handling this problem on farms. I have seen farmers with two tanks and two spray booms on the same tractor, one spraying 10-34-0 and one spraying liquid calcium. This got the elements on the leaves, but as soon as this combination hit the surface it was converted into tricalcium phosphate and, of course, again this hindered absorption.

Let's look at some different ways of mixing these elements. I have seen many ways this has been done, but the first we will discuss is mixing phosphoric acid and liquid calcium.

This mix has about a 100 percent chance of turning to tricalcium phosphate. If you use pure enough products, it can be sprayed through a sprayer. This combination should have good agitation in the spray tank and should be compared to using wettable powders, but here again we have just made tricalcium phosphate.

The next process we will look at is one to keep the two elements apart in the solution. This is called an emulsion, whereby a chemical process has been added to the phosphoric acid and liquid calcium to keep them apart in the container. This can be identified one of two ways. If you look at the solution closely in a well lighted area, you will be able to see little waves floating in the solution. The other way an emulsion can be identified is to mix the ingredients and then let the solution sit undisturbed for a day - the elements will separate. The phosphoric acid (weighing 14 Ibs. per gal.) will go to the bottom and the liquid calcium (weighing 12 lbs.. per gal.) will rise to the top. This again needs agitation in the spray tank when sprayed, but not as much as using the first process.

Although this process may be satisfactory, we do not have any information on what happens once the mixture hits the leaves. We tested this in our lab and decided against using it because there were too many unanswered questions as to what was happening on the leaf surface.

The last process we will look at is that of making a complete mixture of calcium and phosphorus without converting it to tricalcium phosphate. When we first started - or actually got close to making this go together - we had it made and were excited about the product, only to come in a few days later to find it had reverted back and separated out. This was a big disappointment, but we were too stubborn to quit after we had come so far. We finally learned that not only the sequence that we used to combine the products in the tank but also the timing of that mixture both were of critical importance. This meant that we were not giving the chemical process long enough to read in the solution before we added the next element. It also changed when we went from the lab to making large batches. The first large batch we made went out in the field, because it reverted back. We found the larger the batch, the longer it takes to make. So, at the present size batch we are making, it takes three days to manufacture one batch.

If you are familiar with our lab, you know by now that the product I refer to is our new label "Amaze." We had been told by many people that this product couldn't be made. I want to thank our chemist Chuck Kirsch for his persistence when it would have been so easy to give up.

amazeI have not been involved in chemistry to this extent during my lifetime, but what it gets down to is a chemical puzzle and all of the pieces must fit. When they don't fit, you can have the worst mess you have ever seen. One day, Chuck was working on one of his puzzles when he added a certain ingredient to his mixture and immediately realized it was wrong. He grabbed the flask and was trying to shake the contents out into the sink so he could save beaker, but some of those mixtures get so hard you just have to destroy the glass.

I might add a little note as to how we named this product. When we had gone through all of these disappointing experiments in glue production and then finally came out with a product that was successful, the first word uttered was, 'Amazing!" The word stuck to the new product like the glue stuck to the flask.

For more information on Amaze, go to www.foliarsprays.com/amaze.html

What are we working on for the future?

Those of you who have been in our basic seminar realize that the Amaze is used as a foliar spray for fruiting and adding sugars or quality. The next project is to make a foliar for bulking and growth. Someone might say that's easy: use potassium and calcium. The problem is that Dr. Reams said, "Always use a little phosphorus." Therefore, we are back to the same old chemical puzzle; mixing phosphorus and calcium in different ratios. We are back to the beginning on this one, but I am confident we can get it done.

As this is the first newsletter I have written, I hope you comprehend what I intended to convey. All while I was writing it, I have been remembering what my English teacher said to me during my senior year in high school.

"Owens, there is one thing you will never be able to do:" he said, "speak the English language."

Good farming and God bless,

Wendell Owens