‘Free Aluminum’ Could Be Costing You Thousands of Dollars In Yield and Quality

Things that are invisible are not necessarily unimportant: oxygen, carbon monoxide, and gravity, to name a few. This is as true in the soil as it is above ground.  While we tend to think of soil as ‘sand, silt, and clay’, there are many tremendously important things in it that are invisible or barely visible to the unaided eye.  This is true for much of the soil ecosystem: bacteria, viruses, massive webs of microscopic fungi, frightful soil insects, hideous mites, sprawling plant roots, decaying plant material, all sorts of [naturally occurring] chemicals.  Soil organism populations oscillate wildly, depending on environmental conditions, complex chemical reactions are occurring everywhere - it’s a war where chemical and biological weapons are the norm, and yet somehow there is order, beauty, and a little predictability to it!  And yet, most of it is invisible. Let’s zoom in on one economically important yet underappreciated element found in soil: aluminum.  Unless someone has previously drawn your attention to soil aluminum, you may not have thought much about it before.  It sounds terribly uninteresting, doesn’t it?!  Read on only if you think crop yield, quality, and farm profitability are interesting, because aluminum is involved in all of them. How did aluminum get in my soil? Several years ago I had a conversation with an individual who was surprised and not a little disturbed that aluminum had somehow made its way into their soils!  It was probab

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