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Alternative Sources of Secondary Macronutrients

Conventional fertilization is mainly concerned with the "Big Three" macronutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which together comprise over 75% of the mineral nutrients found in typical plant tissue. So, it's easy to forget about the importance of the "secondary macronutrients" - calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. To make matters worse, the symptoms for these mineral nutrients are not particularly diagnostic. For example, native plant seedlings do not exhibit visible calcium deficiency symptoms such as "blossom end rot" of tomatoes and peppers. In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that these symptoms in my vegetable garden this spring brought the importance of these nutrients to my attention. After all, I'm supposed to know something about growing plants! This experience caused me to reevaluate the options for supplying calcium, magnesium and sulfur as fertilizers and, in particular, look for new options for nurseries.

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Author(s): Thomas D. Landis

Publication: Forest Nursery Notes - 2007 Summer