Knowledge

A Scientific Analysis Of the Performance of Ulexite in Soil

Boron fertilizers have always been essential to the agriculture industry. Borate or Boron is one nutrient that all plants need and it cannot just be omitted from any fertilizer application process. The lack of Boron can lead to crops being less productive and appearing withered or diseased.

In recent years, there have been new innovations in the field of fertilizers, whereby slow-release and controlled-release fertilizers have been developed. These fertilizers have a slower release rate than more traditional forms of fertilizers. Slow-release fertilizers have an advantage over fast-release fertilizers as they are able to last longer and are less prone to leaching in soil.One research project has examined the rate of release and leaching of Ulexite, and we shall see the main findings of this paper with regards to the performance of regular Ulexite in soil and for agricultural purposes.

The concentration of Boron in commercial Ulexite

In the paper by Da Silva et al. (2018), the amount of total Boron in a sample of Ulexite from Argentina was 98 grams per kilogram. However, the water-soluble portion of this product was only about 74 grams per kilo. In effect, this means that only 7.4% of the total weight of the product is being released into the soil to be used by plants. This, of course, is only the results of one product, and Ulexite from different places may vary slightly.

Boron leaching from Ulexite

The leaching rate of a MOP (Muriate of Potash) blend with Ulexite was examined. The blend was applied to soil columns with different pore volumes (PV). Pore volumes were set at 2.5PV, 5PV, 10PV and 20PV. Water was then poured through the soil columns and the amount of Boron remaining was measured in order to determine how much of it was lost.

At 2.5PV, the leaching rate of the Ulexite blend was about 52.9 %. However, at higher PV values, the percentage of leaching became stable at 70.2%, 75.8%, and 77.8% respectively. This shows that Boron in Ulexite is highly soluble and can be lost at high degrees in soils with heavy rainfall and high sandy content.Uptake of Boron in Canola

In a study of the uptake of Boron by the Canola plant, it was found that soils with less leaching has plants that had a higher amount of Boron, and generally had higher shoot dry matter yield. This means that the Canola with less leaching in soils generally had a bigger mass and healthier growth rate. Canola is one plant that is sensitive to Boron content, and therefore is often used as a measure for Boron performance in soil.The Importance of Slow-Release and Controlled-Release Ulexite

In the study by Da Silva et al. (2018), we can conclude that regular Ulexite is prone to wastage to due soil leaching, with about 70-75% lost when rainwater washes it off. This is why the technology of slow-release and controlled release is so important to be used in the field, in order to conserve the Boron in Ulexite so that it really reaches the plant.

Reference

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328242323_Slow_and_Fast-Release_Boron_Sources_in_Potash_Fertilizers_Spatial_Variability_Nutrient_Dissolution_and_Plant_Uptake

Ulexite Market Trends for 2020 And Beyond

Boron and borates are a class of fertilizers that are essential to the agriculture industry. They are a major category of fertilizers, along with Nitrogen (N), Phosphates (P) and Potassium (K).  Commercially, boron is available in several natural forms. These include borax, Ulexite, Colemanite, and Boric Acid.

Boron and borate minerals are used in many fields, not just as fertilizers. They’re also widely present in the glassmaking industry, ceramics, detergents, and others. In fact, slightly more than half of the borate minerals in the world go towards the glassmaking. Only about 14% of all borate minerals are used as fertilizers. Among these is of course, Ulexite.Demand for Ulexite

Ulexite will continue to see a growth in terms of demand for the year 2020 and beyond. Ulexite itself provides borates to crops, which are micronutrients without any substitutes. Since Ulexite has no other material substitutes, and the demand for agricultural products is not expected to decline anytime soon, we will see the demand trend for Ulexite be pretty stable.

Agricultural demand for Borates stood at 14% in 2012 and is expected to rise by 1.48% in 2020, and a further 1.32% and 1.33% in 2021 and 2022. The forecasted production amount for the agricultural sector in 2020 is about 314,095 tons and this number is projected to increase slightly in the subsequent years to 326,860 tons in the year 2023, as seen in Table 1.

Table 1: Projected Boron Demand Forecasts (In B2O3 tonnes). Source: StormcrowThe recent COVID-19 pandemic around the world is not expected to affect the production and supply of Ulexite in Malaysia. This is because the production of Ulexite as a fertilizer is considered an essential service, as it pertains to the food and agriculture industry.Ulexite Pricing

The pricing for Ulexite had more or less remained stable and shows only a slight increase In the past. In 2005, the documented price of Ulexite was USD250-USD300 per metric ton (FOB basis). However, now the Ulexite price has increased a lot, by reflecting high demand from the world. in 2020 we are seeing Ulexite being sold commercially for about USD400-USD450 per metric ton (FOB basis).

The Future of Ulexite

In general, there are several countries that are the main producers include South American countries like Bolivia, Peru and Chile. The main players in the Ulexite production field include Socomirg of Bolivia, Quiborax of Chile and Inkabor of Peru. However, there are many other smaller companies from other countries that can potentially penetrate the market and be successful. This is based on the simple fact that demand is steadily increasing and supply is always welcomed.

The market is definitely not saturated, and the usage of Ulexite is not limited to the fertilizers and the agricultural sector. The best way forward is therefore to vary your target market if you’re producing Ulexite into as many fields and industries as possible.

References
Stormcrow Industry Report on Borates (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/535e7e2de4b088f0b623c597/t/55365c32e4b09956c7c42fc0/1429625906212/Stormcrow-Borate+Industry+Report-Apr2015-Final.pdf)

Industrial Minerals and Rocks: Commodities, Markets and Uses
https://books.google.com.my/books?id=zNicdkuulE4C&pg=PA277&lpg=PA277&dq=ulexite+fertilizers+trend&source=bl&ots=NkvcC_E8w7&sig=ACfU3U2Gk-1qKgi4HSN1emrPfA57VDSDBA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwil34Czq7DoAhUQgUsFHSLJDFMQ6AEwGXoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=ulexite%20fertilizers%20trend&f=false

Composted and non-composted Organic Fertilizer

Organic fertilizer is considered free from artificially added chemicals and other elements that are harmful to plants. However, organic fertilizer, such as chicken or cow manure, users can either be composted or not composted. There is a difference between these two types of fertilizer. Fresh and not composted manure can be applied to plants that require a high level of nitrogen. However, applying fresh and not composted manure to plants possess a health risk.

The not composted manure contains bacteria and pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria and pathogens are in fact harmful to humans. Although they are not taken up by the plant roots, some of these bacteria and pathogens can stick to the plants and can be brought to the kitchen along with the plants. These can then enter the cooked food and harm humans. Also, some vegetables such as cabbages and salads alongside fruits are not cooked before consumption. Therefore, this can also affect consumers.

Dried and processed manure is sold in hardware stores. These types of organic fertilizers are safer in comparison homemade with non-composted manure fertilizer. However, if you wish to make the fertilizer at home, the following steps can be followed:

  • Make sure to dry the manure in high temperatures of 55 degree Celsius and above for at least 15 days
  • Another way is to dry the manure for 6 months to 1 year in order to kill the pathogens and bacteria

When properly composted, organic fertilizer made at home from manure can be very beneficial over the chemical-based fertilizers. It also helps save the cost of maintaining your backyard garden.

 

 

Regenerative Agriculture

We often hear issues on global warming, climate crisis, poverty and malnutrition happening around the world. Many are unaware that these problems can be lessened, if not solved, through regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agriculture defines as a practice that can reverse the effects of climate change by helping to rebuild soil organic matter and by restoring the biodiversity of degraded soil. This in return, contributes to carbon drawdown and an improved water cycle.

Based on researches done by scientists, with the current rate of soil destruction, including erosion, desertification and chemical pollution, the public health and food supply chain is seen to deteriorate in the coming 50 years. It is expected that the food supplied will lose most of its nutritional values. Other than that, the lack of arable soil will cause a drop in the food supply, causing hunger around the less wealthy side of the world. It will also be impossible to keep the global warming conditions at below 2 degree Celsius and would lead to a loss of biodiversity.

Regenerative agriculture uses technologies that regenerate and revitalize the soil and environment, rather than damaging it by planting crops. This technology leads to a healthy soil condition that is able to produce high quality and nutrient-rich food. Regenerative agriculture incorporates permaculture and organic farming practices that include crop rotation, composting, using organic fertilizer, and organic farming practices to increase food production, income and most importantly, the quality of the soil.

Biodiesel – the fuel of the future

Biodiesel is the fuel produced from extracting oil from animal fats, plants or waste. Scientifically, biodiesel is called fatty acid methyl esters.Some of the sources of biodiesel include rapeseed, soya beans, and corn. Since some of these are also sources of food, there is a Fuel vs Food debate on biodiesel production from food sources. Therefore, a lot of research is being done on producing biodiesel from inedible sources. Some examples include sandbox seeds and cotton seeds.
Biodiesel is produced through esterification process of oil extracted from the seeds. Firstly, the seeds are cleaned and dried. Then, oil is extracted from the seeds via processes such as soxhlet extraction or by mixing the oil with sulfur dioxide. The oil extracted is then refined and esterified by a reaction between the oil and alcohol as the base. A catalyst can be used to enhance the reaction. The time and temperature depend on the type of alcohol and oil used. Once the reaction completes, the alcohol is evaporated using rotary evaporation.

The use of biodiesel is important as it comes from natural renewable resources. It also helps reduce carbon footprint where the carbon footprint emitted is countered by planting sources like sandbox seeds and cotton seeds for further production. Biodiesel is an important technology which can significantly help overcome the problem of fossil fuel and natural gas depletion. Therefore, more research is to be done to prepare biodiesel on large scales to overcome the depletion.

Carbon Dioxide Fertilizer to Promote Growth

Carbon dioxide is essential to plants as oxygen is essential to humans and animals. Humans and animals inhale oxygen produced by plants and exhale carbon dioxide that is used by plants to support photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process carried out by plants in order to prepare ‘food’ with the presence of sunlight, chlorophyll and carbon dioxide.

An efficient photosynthesis rate is needed for the plants to be able to grow to their full potential. Naturally, plants need 0.1 to 1.0 % volume of carbon dioxide to reach their optimal photosynthesis rate. However, the surrounding air contains only 0.03 % of carbon dioxide that is available for photosynthesis. Therefore, plants are unable to reach their maximum growth due to the lack of carbon dioxide. This results in smaller plants, leaves and fruits.

In order to ensure optimum growth, carbon dioxide has to be supplied to the plants. In the 1920s, carbon dioxide gas was supplied directly to the plants. Pipes were built along with the plants. Carbon dioxide gas would be slowly released from the pipes to be absorbed by the plants. However, the situation was difficult to control as there is the runoff of the carbon dioxide into the environment.

In current days, fertilizer in the form of calcium carbonate is available to the consumers. This type of fertilizer is usually a slow release. Once applied, the granules slowly release carbon dioxide over a long period of time, just enough for the plants’ stomata to absorb some carbon dioxide to assist photosynthesis, and avoid wastage and environmental poisoning. The extra source of carbon dioxide enables plants to produce a higher yield of fruits and also larger and healthier fruits.

Qualities of a good fertilizer

The most important mechanical quality of fertilizer is the ability to spread evenly, precise application, a low impact on the environment and promising a high return on investment. The first look of fertilizer can actually indicate the quality of the granules. Dust-like and crushed granules indicate fertilizer with low quality. On the other hand, granules that are smooth and inhomogeneous size indicate high quality and ability to spread evenly.

Taking into importance the well-being of the environment, fertilizers should be free of additives. Another important effect of fertilizer is the release of carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment by a certain activity, which in this case is agriculture. This leads to an increase in global temperature. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the fertilizer emits carbon footprint at its lowest both during production and application.

Next quality is the high return in investment. The fertilizer applied should be able to return the investment in fertilizing during harvesting. Some fertilizer types require more fertilizing with more quantity and more frequency. This type of fertilizer brings a lesser return on investment. Fertilizer that needs to be applied lesser times, but with the same harvest, promises a higher return of investment.

In short, a good quality fertilizer should have the following:

  • Free-flowing (easily applied)
  • Consistent in particle size with smooth and hard granules
  • Easily spread – ensuring even distribution patterns
  • Quickly dissolve when in contact with moist soil or water (avoid run-off)
  • Free from contaminants and additives

Upcoming Farming Technologies

In a world with growing need of food, there is a high demand of work and effort from humans needed to feed so many mouths. Just imagine if this job can be done by a robot, faster and more precise. Companies around the world are investing in creating and launching new technologies that facilitate the crops picking activity.

In Netherlands, there is an abundant number of greenhouses used to grow produce such as peppers, tomatoes and greens. Agricultural engineer, Eldert van Henten, is working on a pepper harvester. The pepper harvester is programmed to recognize the colour of the pepper and cut it from the stem, without damaging the fruit. The challenge in constructing the robot is to enable the robot to quickly identify the correct range of colour through a coloured camera lens.

A human can pick approximately 15 to 20 ripe strawberries in a minute. In the United Kingdom, Green has developed a strawberry picker that is able to pick a strawberry every 2 seconds, equivalent to about 30 strawberries in a minute. The robot uses stereoscopic vision with RGB cameras that capture depth in combination with a complex algorithm. It is estimated with robots will soon take over the places of human pickers.

Timing plays an important role in agriculture. If you pick the fruit too early, it is wasteful. But if you wait too long, it rots. Therefore the perfect timing is needed in order to get the best fruits picked. Precision farming is developed to do just what is needed to avoid picking fruits at the wrong time. Manuela Zude-Sasse has developed sensors that detect fruit size and levels of the pigments chlorophyll and anthocyanin when attached to the fruits. The data is then run through an algorithm which helps determine the exact time to pick the fruit. Once it is time to be picked, the growers are alerted by an app that is downloaded onto their smartphones.

The 4Rs Guide to Fertilizer Application

Fertilizers are a vital component of sustainable crop production. Fertilizers assist in increasing the production of crops and while ensuring that the crops are healthy. If nutrients provided to the plants are inadequate, the fertility is mined from the soil, and thus, the crop will not be able to attain its optimal yield. On the other hand, if too much nutrient is provided without managing the risks, there is a high possibility that the excess fertilizer will move away from the plants and in result, affect the environment.

The 4Rs guide is an approach to utilize fertilizer optimally. This practice is good for the grower, farming community, and also the environment. The 4Rs stand for:

  • Right Source
  • Right Rate
  • Right Time
  • Right Place

The 4Rs are explained in a more detailed manner as below.

Right Source

Before applying fertilizer, ensure first that the type of fertilizer applied is of the correct source (i.e. Potassium fertilizer, Nitrogen fertilizer, etc.) you would want to apply the correct type of fertilizer for optimal growth of your plant. Ensure that there is a balanced source of nutrients in the fertilizer, based on the plants.

 Right Rate

Assess the soil nutrient content in which your plants are planted in before applying any fertilizer. Some soil has a higher nutrient content than others, while some have a significantly low amount of nutrients. Therefore, the soil nutrient level needs to be checked to avoid over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing.

Right Time

Assess your crop intake dynamics, soil supply, nutrient loss, and logistics before applying fertilizer. You should know how long it takes for your crops to take up the fertilizer. Recognize also the weather factors before fertilizing. Too much rain will result in fertilizer runoff while no rainfall will retard the absorption of fertilizer by the crop roots.

Right place

Before applying fertilizer, you should know the dynamics of the roots. You should know where the roots are located and if it is easy for the roots to intake the fertilizer from where you have applied it. Applying fertilizer too far from the roots will only result in wastage as the fertilizer will run off with rain before it can be absorbed by the roots.


 

5 Places to Buy Granulated Ulexite Online

E-commerce in this day and age isn’t just limited to buying clothes or groceries online. You can basically find everything you need online, and have it delivered to your doorstep.

It’s no different for things like agricultural equipment and fertilizers. There are stores offer these things online nowadays so you don’t have to travel yourself and pick them up.

The purchasing process on these online supplier sites is also very quick and efficient. You don’t have to go through the time-consuming steps of getting quotations, issuing P.O.s or dealing with invoices anymore.

Just go online, state how many units you want and just pay through online bank transfers or credit cards. It’s so fast and easy. Here are some of the sites where you can find fertilizers for sale, especially ground Borate Fertilizers or Ulexite:

1. AliBaba

AliBaba mostly carries Ulexite Borate and Boron fertilizers from China. However, the availability largely depends on the manufacturers on the site. However, you will be able to see all the Borate fertilizers or pure Ulexite powder suppliers by typing in these search terms into the search bar above.

Most suppliers require you to buy a minimum amount in order for them to justify the shipping fees. So usually you won’t be able to buy one or two packs at one time and this is the only downside.

2. Lazada

Lazada does carry some forms of Boron, such as Borax and not specifically Ulexite. However, the amount of Borax or Borate fertilizers you can buy on Lazada is pretty small. They are sold in packs or bottles of 1kg or less and are meant for gardeners and domestic use, rather than plantation owners.

Additionally, they are also sold as part of a mixed fertilizer formula rather than straight fertilizer.

3. Ubuy Malaysia

Ubuy has many lifestyle products, and here you can find sometimes find Borate and Boron as part of complex fertilizers designed for farming and cash crops. Most of the products at Ubuy are imported from the US and other foreign countries so you can be assured of the best quality products for your plants in the long run. If you’re here, you’ll want to use the keyword ‘fertilizer’ to begin your search.


4. Amazon

Amazon carries Boron and Borate fertilizers from all over the world, and you can definitely find one in stock. Otherwise, there are plenty of micronutrient fertilizer mixtures you can also try. The only thing is that buying online from Amazon might be a tad bit more costly since all the prices are in USD.

For the time being Everchem does not do any direct retail trading towards the customers as most of our business is mainly on wholesale. However, should you require further information on the type of products that we carry feel free to drop an email to us at james@everchem.com.my.