Group Title: Press bulletin
Title: Cutting down the fertilizer bill
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Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090491/00001
 Material Information
Title: Cutting down the fertilizer bill
Series Title: Press bulletin
Physical Description: 2 leaves : ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Blair, A. W ( Augustine Wilberforce ), b. 1866
University of Florida -- Agricultural Experiment Station
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1909
 Subjects
Subject: Fertilizers -- Economic aspects -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by A.W. Blair.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "November 13, 1909."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090491
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 83641815

Full Text






PRESS BULLETIN 130


Florida Agrlculllurl Experimeln Slailom





CUTTING DOWN THE FERTILIZER BILL
BY A. W. BLAIR
Cost of Nitrogen in Fertilizers
According to the report of the State Chemist for 1908, Florida spent in
that year, about $1,680,000 for nitrogen (ammonia) in fertilizers. The greater
portion of this money went outside the State, to pay for sulphate of ammonia,
nitrate of soda, dried blood, bone meal, tankage, etc. All who are engaged
in general farming, and many fruit and vegetable growers, can considerably
lessen their expenses for fertilizers, without impairing their crops, and thus
bring about a saving to the State. The cost of the three fertilizing constitu-
ents in mixed fertilizers, is about 5 cents a pound for phosphoric acid, and the
same for potash, while nitrogen costs 20 cents a pound. (As used in connec-
tion with fertilizers, the terms nitrogen and ammonia mean nearly the same,
one pound of nitrogen being equivalent to 1.214 pounds of ammonia.) It is
possible for the agriculturist to do equally well without buying much nitrogen,
and so he can materially reduce his fertilizer bill. For in the beggarweed, the
cowpea, and the velvet bean, Florida has a natural factory, in which the most
expensive fertilizing element, nitrogen, is gathered free from the air.
Knowing this, it seems extravagant to continue sending outside of the State
for large quantities of nitrogenous fertilizers.
Free Nitrogen From the Air
It is well known that the legumes, such as beggarweed, cowpeas, and vel-
vet beans, have the power of utilizing nitrogen from the air and storing it up,
so that it may be used for other crops. Some chemists claim that the greater
portion of the nitrogen of these crops usually comes from the air. If the
farmer will take advantage of this provision of nature, it is easy for him to
cut down his fertilizer bill. We can estimate roughly how much nitrogen any
legume will add to the soil, if we know the analysis of the crop and the yield
per acre. Clean beggarweed hay, cut when the plants were just coming into
bloom, contained 3.3 to 3.4 per cent. of nitrogen. The dry stubble and roots
contained about 1.45 per cent., and the weight was about a quarter of the
weight of the hay. Hence one ton of hay would yield 67 pounds of nitrogen,
which, at 20 cents a pound, would be worth $13.40; while the roots and stubble
(500 pounds) would give seven and a quarter pounds of nitrogen, worth $1.45.


November 13, 1,909








The value of the nitrogen from this ton of hay, including stubble and roots,
would be $14.85. If we only allow that one-half of the nitrogen comes from
the air, we have utilized the nitrogen of the air to the value of $7.42, which
is nearly as much as we would have to pay for 500 pounds of bright cotton-
seed meal. But we ought to get two tons of beggarweed hay per acre, which
would then double our gain of nitrogen. If the beggarweed is left on the
ground to decay, the plant food that the crop took from the soil, and the ni-
trogen that was taken from the air, are returned to the soil. If the crop is
taken off as hay and no manure returned, there is still some compensation,
since the fallen leaves, roots, and stubble have in them some of the nitrogen
that came from the air. If the beggarweed is taken off as hay and the ma-
nure returned to the land, most of the fertilizing constituents go back to the
soil.
Fertilizing Cotton and Citrus
The cotton grower will possibly fertilize his fields with 200 pounds of acid
phosphate, costing $1.60; 150 pounds of bright cottonseed meal, costing $2.50;
and 100 pounds of kainit, costing 65 cents; the total cost being $4.75 per acre.
But a [crop of beggarweed may supply to the soil, from the air, about as
much nitrogen as there is in 500 pounds of cottonseed meal. From this we
see that the cotton grower can, by growing beggarweed and omitting the ni-
trogen, reduce his fertilizer bill by more than one half, and still have more ni-
trogen than if he had bought the usual fertilizers and grown no beggarweed.
When growing beggarweed in orange groves, harm may be done to the
trees as well as to the pocket-book, if, when the time comes to fertilize, the
grower uses about as much nitrogen as he would have done if the grove had
not borne a crop of beggarweed. The trees and fruit may then show the ill
effects of too much nitrogen. Much of the nitrogen that would otherwise
have been washed out during the summer rains, is stored up in the beggar-
weed, to be returned to the soil as the plants and roots decay in the fall and
winter. In case none or only part of the hay is removed, it is doubtful if the
fall fertilizer ought to contain any nitrogen at all.


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