The Albrecht system of soil fertility is designed to feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant. If
the level of a nutrient in the soil is sufficient to grow the crop then skip that one and go on to the
ones that are more limiting as that will make more difference in terms of fertilizer costs and
improving yields. We find many soils where magnesium is needed more than P or K for the next
crop, but how many consultants can really determine there is such a need, let alone how much to
use, when soils already appear to have too much? This involves a program of soil testing that is
exact enough to enable prioritizing all needed crop nutrients. Whatever is determined as priority
#1 is supplied first, then #2 and then #3, until the budget is used up. Using such a program
enables the grower to put the money that is available where it will tend to make the most
As a consulting company, we do not sell or make money on the sale of needed fertilizer and soil
amendments. We sell the advice farmers and growers need to make the best crop. Our priorities
are not affected by what the fertilizer company has on hand to sell. What the soil needs most to
grow the best crop is what motivates our concern and the recommendations we make for each
soil and crop.
Furthermore, materials that actually build the available levels of a deficient nutrient in the soil
should be applied to crops (regarded as “soil feeders”) instead of plant feeders. Plant feeders are
types of fertilizer that must be picked up by the plants quickly, otherwise they will be tied up and
remain in a form that is no longer useable and thus will not build in the soil and will not show up
on a soil test as available for the next crop. As the soil feeder types of fertilizer, plus effective
soil amendments such as limestone, compost and manures, if available and called for on each
soil, are used to build sufficient nutrient levels in that soil, then as they are built up, they will
then show up as no longer the most limiting. Therefore, based on the current levels shown on the
soil analysis, nutrients that are sufficient can be placed further down the list concerning how best
to spend the allotted budget for that crop or field.
Now it comes down to the question of whose knowledge should you trust? Prioritizing fertility
needs in a crop can be quite different for grass, vs, legume, vs. mixed grass/legume pastures, vs.
oats, vs. corn silage. Even more variations are possible between fertility for specific vegetables,
as opposed to apples, fruits, nuts, grapes, melons or bananas. But is such a program really
possible, or as some well-established sources claim, is this just another ploy to get farmers to use
this service rather than some other one?
Start a small test and learn for yourself what really works best. It is not so hard to believe what
you see with your own eyes. Split a field and use the current program on half and then use the
testing for the prioritized nutrient program on the other half. Determine to carry through with the
test for three years on good soils. It can take even less time on some poorer soils, but three years
will show even better results there too. First check to see whether the extra testing, time and
expense is worth the difference before making full use of any new program.
“Feed the soil and let the soil feed the plant” has made the greatest difference for those using our
services in terms of higher quality and more profitable crop yields for all types of growers and
their various crops. It works and it works very well. Start small, prove what works best, and
grow from there. That is the way we have built our business.