Raised below the ocean’s surface, kelp can also have a distinct place on land. Namely, it can serve as an innovative yield-enhancing crop input meant to boost yields in the crops that we grow and consume every day.
Kelp originates as a seaweed, and it contains key nutrients that crops need to thrive. University of Maryland Extension describes the typical profile of a dried kelp soil amendment, which includes minerals from the ocean. It shares that kelp products may feature as much as 3.3 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorus and 20 percent potassium. The nutritional composition is further enhanced by more than 60 trace minerals.
Additionally, University of Maryland Extension indicates that kelp may stimulate growth. In particular, it contains three key forms of hormones — cytokinins, auxins and gibberellins — thought to promote plant growth. Because of its nutritional profile and growth-enhancing properties, the University of Maryland Extension publication suggests that seedlings and transplants can benefit from kelp-derived amendments.
Harvesting seaweed to produce kelp crop inputs can not only benefit the crops grown on land, but the harvest can also produce advantages for marine life. In October 2012, NPR published a story that described a new wave of seaweed farming. The story also explained that kelp can extract nitrogen and other contaminants from ocean water. Some water-dwelling species don’t do well in high-nitrogen environments. As a result, the kelp removing nitrogen from the water can make the ocean’s ecosystem friendlier to sensitive plants and animals.
We at BigYield.us have had the opportunity to experiment with kelp as a product to improve crop yields. Our BigBioYield crop biological contributes multiple beneficial bacteria to encourage a healthy soil microbial environment. BigBioYield also contains 2 percent kelp to supply microbial nutrients.
To realize the greatest gains from BigBioYield applications, we recommend applying 16 ounces per soybean acre during the R1 to R3 growth stages. Applications of 16 ounces per acre in corn are recommended during the V3 to V7 growth stages.
Adding kelp as a soil amendment is just one novel approach to enhancing crop yields. This story from AgWeb shares a few other ideas — particularly for soybeans — to consider.
If you have questions about kelp soil amendments or our BigBioYield crop biological, then please call or email anytime!