Dr William Albrecht on soil fertility

Better soils
with Brett Petersen
Kiwi Fertiliser & Golden Bay Dolomite

When last in USA, in July-August last year, at the University of Missouri, Professor Tim Reinbott put a list of MU websites on the board in the lecture room. They referred to Dr Albrecht.

When still in USA, I entered them into Google. The first thing that happened was Albrecht changed to Albert. The fine print asked if I wanted to continue searching for Albrecht. Dozens of Albrecht websites appeared, but when I chose ‘William’ the screen went bright red. A notice declared: “This is a dangerous website----.” The reaction to the same information in New Zealand was not as severe, but is nonetheless censored.

One of Dr Albrecht’s catch-cries was: “Insoluble, yet available”. Nitrogen immediately springs to mind, and how we are losing our water supplies, to nitrate toxicity. Kiwi Fertiliser’s preferred method to supply nitrogen is to ensure there is correct phosphate, iron, calcium, magnesium, cobalt and molybdenum. This allows the plants themselves to access atmospheric nitrogen.

Commercial perspective

Dr Albrecht lamented the fact that universities taught from a commercial perspective. If there was money in a subject, they were all over it. If there was no commercial gain, then that subject was barely mentioned. His paper titled ‘Insoluble, Yet Available’ was published in British papers, but has never made traction in USA and other countries where most fertilisers are soluble. In NZ, lime is not even considered to be fertiliser. This is illogical.

Fighting acidity was another subject that wound Dr Albrecht up. In their quest for nutrition, plants’ roots secrete carbonic acid to treat insoluble soil minerals, such as rock, to supply some of that nutrition. We can drink carbonic acid, and it is not harmful. We do not drink nitric or sulphuric acid. Albrecht’s conclusion was it is not the acidity of the soil that is the problem, but the lack of nutrients that affected plant growth for the worse. So pH must be the result of your fertiliser programme, not the cause of it.

As a microbiologist, Albrecht was required to create inoculum for legumes, but he found if plants were not healthy, they would not fix nitrogen. He produced a report titled ‘Some Soil Factors in Nitrogen Fixation by Legumes’. In this study, clay was spun in a centrifuge until all the cations were taken off. The clay that was left was acidic. They then reconstructed the soil by adding cations back in the correct amounts and order. This is how the Perry Agricultural Laboratory, the lab used by Kiwi Fertiliser, knows exactly what any soil requires to achieve optimum production.

Acidic clay

The acidic clay colloid is one with no or few cations being, hydrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and trace elements. Plants thrive at a pH of about 6.3, but some plants, such as rhododendrons and blueberries have a mistaken reputation for ‘preferring’ a lower pH. The problem at a lower pH is the lack of cations (fertility). Addition of lime may only be part of the solution. Calcium will depress magnesium if magnesium is not also corrected. Proper reconstruction of the cations in the soil is the only way to improve plant’s health and performance. Let us show you how.


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