Organic proponent touts 'fishy' fertilizer

Ed Greenwood arranges a selection of organic fertilizer products he'll have at the Expo. John Schmitz For the Capital Press

Marketer describes increased demand for organics

By JOHN SCHMITZ

For the Capital Press

For several years now, Ed Greenwood has been touting the benefits of AMSOIL synthetic lubricants in his booth at the Willamette Valley Expo.

But this year, the former Vietnam fighter pilot is zeroing in on another AMSOIL product: Aggrand certified-organic fertilizer.

Greenwood, owner of Greenwood Marketing near Salem, has been a representative for AMSOIL for almost 30 years and a marketer of Aggrand for almost 20.

"The organics story has really gotten hot for several reasons," Greenwood said.

One of those is a shortage of certified-organic fertilizers.

Another reason his phone is ringing off the hook the past two years is the jump in chemical fertilizer prices.

During that time "chemical fertilizers had gone up four times, and our stuff was the same price," Greenwood said. Now "it's way cheaper to go organic."

Even nonorganic farmers are turning to organic fertilizers, Greenwood said. "Nationally we've got lots of folks experiencing increased production and lower (fertilizer) costs (with the product)."

Certified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Aggrand is a liquid consisting mainly of North Sea bait fish and kelp. The product was developed 20 years ago by the head of AMSOIL, Al Amatuzio, also a retired fighter pilot.

The liquid's N-P-K is 4-3-3. The company also makes a seaweed fertilizer with an N-P-K of 0-0-8 and a liquid lime.

Greenwood said there's a "different philosophy" involved between organic and synthetic fertilizers.

When applied to the soil, Aggrand not only feeds the plant directly, as do chemical fertilizers, but it also nourishes beneficial micro-organisms in the soil that form other nutrients plants use. In addition, it aids in moisture retention, he said.

Aggrand, which can be tank-mixed with other inputs, also promotes healthy earthworm habitat.

"Where we've studied this, your earthworm count goes up four times because the soil is so much healthier," Greenwood said.

Another drawback to synthetic fertilizers is run-off, Greenwood said.

"Chemical fertilizers have their place and have certainly done wonderful things, but (one of the) downsides is that (they wash) off too much," Greenwood said.

Yet another advantage of organic fertilizers is that they release more slowly than chemical ones, Greenwood said.

Organic fertilizers, with their much lower levels of nitrogen, are worker-safe and can be safely used as foliar sprays, he said.

"You cannot do this at all with the chemical stuff (because) it would burn the plant. Even chicken manure is hot enough to burn the stems of young plants."

Greenwood said the uptake of nutrients after foliar application is "20 times more efficient than applying fertilizers to the soil."

Greenwood, who is also a winegrape grower and makes the Vinzena wine label, said he has been using AMSOIL's organic fertilizers on his winegrapes for 15 years and that the product applied foliarly helped keep his Pinot noir vines producing after they had been stricken with phylloxera.

In addition to food crops, Aggrand can be used in hayfields, he said. "It's very popular with the cattle people. They seem to get better yields."

Aggrand concentrate is available in sizes ranging from 1 quart to 275 gallons.

Greenwood will also be featuring AMSOIL's synthetic lubricants at his Expo booth.

Freelance writer John Schmitz is based in Salem, Ore. E-mail: johns6869@msn.com.

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