Jims Blog

Fertilizing Food Plots - It's Your Money.  Use it Wisely.

Fertilizing Food Plots - It's Your Money. Use it Wisely.

More and more of the so called “experts” on food plots are pushing (trying to sell) these magical liquid calcium and liquid fertilizers as the answer to all the fertility needs of your food plots.

Liquid calcium/lime and liquid fertilizers are getting to be the mainstay in the vast marketplace of less than reputable soil fertility amendments.

Let's take a look at what's really in these and what you are really getting when you use them.

Liquid calcium, which is applied to raise your Ph, in lieu of ag lime: Most liquid calcium products are a solution

of dissolved calcium chloride. One gallon of product contains 1.1 pound of calcium and a recommended application rate ranging from 2 to 5 gallons per acre that would apply 2.2 to 5.5 pounds of actual calcium per acre. This is a very small quantity of calcium in the scheme of things.

For reference, the plow layer (6.6” of depth) of a typical soil has a base saturation of 65% calcium already, which

calculated out to be 2600 pounds per acre of exchangeable calcium.

It's also worth comparing the cost and calcium content of liquid calcium to limestone. Interestingly, a gallon of the liquid calcium costs about the same as a ton of limestone. However, the ton of limestone contains 800 pounds of calcium compared to only 1.1 pounds of calcium in the gallon of liquid product.

Doing the math on this is relatively simple, considering the liquid calcium is only going to add 1-2 pounds to already 2000 pounds in the soil.

Another claim is that liquid calcium will instantly increase soil Ph. This is just not true. The recommended application rates of liquid calcuim products are not going to be able to provide nearly the quantity of calcium needed to change the soil Ph.

One of the most dubious claims of liquid calcium products is that they are superior sources of calcium campared to limestone because they are not diluted by other components of the “rock” that are not calcium.

What they mean by this is that calcium carbonate limestone is only 40% calcium. They discard the benefits of the 60 % of the material that is the carbonate part, which is the part that neutralizes acidity.

Interestingly, the liquid calcium products don't mention that only 10% of their product by weight is calcium. The other 90% is water.

Given the cost of liquid calcium, which is about an average cost of $35.00 per gallon, it would take about 145 gallons to get the same result as 1 ton of Ag lime. Also, the small amount of calcium that is in the liquid lime will last for only a very short time. Ag lime will last for many years.

You can look at the break down of the actual product on the label, if they will show it, and do your own math. These results are from University testing that took a lot of research.

Another questionable claim about liquid calcium is that it will reduce weeds. That is absolutely not true. Weeds thrive off of the same nutrients as the plant you are trying to grow.

The liquid fertilizers are in this same sales pitch as the liquid calcium. Again, look at the analysis on the labels. Do the math for yourself. You are going to have to apply many gallons to equal the recommended amount of dry fertilizers.

Here's one thing to consider, if all of these new modern miracles were so innovative, they would be setting the agricultural world on fire. They just simply are not. They are just new gimmicks to sell more products. It's your money. Use it wisely.

Deer River, MN 56636

  • Email: jim@trophybuckfoodplots.com
  • Phone: 218-244-3365