The theory behind Micronised Mineral Suspension (MMS) is based upon the premise that a tiny 5-micron particle size presents a massive total surface area to the microbial workforce. The larger the surface area, the more rapid the solubilisation process, simply because billions more microbes can sit at the table. The small starting size is also relevant here. It is obviously easier to acid-digest a minuscule grain of sand than it is to break down a boulder. Nutri-Tech research suggests that the release time for fertigated MMS products is just six days. In that time, the full nutrient lode has been delivered to the plant. The comparison between Ag-lime and Lime-Life™ highlights the ‘fast-food’ delivery of the MMS nutrients. Ag-lime releases its calcium component over twelve to eighteen months, compared to an MMS delivery time of less than a week.
The Calcium Trickle-Charger
The MMS concept has also revolutionised the supply of calcium to the leaf via foliar fertilising. The predominant source of soluble calcium in conventional agriculture is calcium nitrate (containing 18% calcium). The problem is that this material also contains a nitrate nitrogen component, which is rarely required in a system already struggling with an oversupply of the nitrate ion. Lime-Life™ offers 250% more calcium than calcium nitrate, without the unwanted nitrate component. Calcium nitrate and chelated calcium products release their soluble calcium to the leaf within six to twelve hours of application. By contrast, Lime-Life™ supplies a slow-release calcium response, continuing to release calcium for a period exceeding two weeks. The process is biological rather than chemical. The millions of micro-organisms inhabiting the leaf surface begin to feast at the calcium canteen following the foliar application of Lime-Life™. The calcium is made available to the plant as it is gradually solubilised. The same contrasting mode of action (ie rapid availability in the soil and much-needed slow release on the leaf surface) is applicable to all of the MMS range This range currently includes Lime-Life™, Gyp-Life™, Phos-Life™ and Zinc-Life™, Zeo-Life™, Huma-Life™, Dia-Life™, Mag-Life™, CalMag-Life™ & Cal-Phos-Life™.
Mag-Life™ and ‘The Big Four’
NTS has identified four elements that should be maintained at luxury levels in the leaf of all plants to maximise yield and quality. ‘The Big Four’ include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and boron. All of these elements are directly linked to the efficiency of photosynthesis, but magnesium is of particular importance in relation to the production of plant-building photosynthates, for two reasons:
Magnesium is the central unit in the chloroplast molecule (a chloroplast is the intra-cellular factory that produces the chlorophyll pigment). If insufficient magnesium enters the plant, then chlorophyll supply will be severely limited. The level of chlorophyll determines plant sugar production, which in turn determines yield and plant health.
Magnesium directly affects the plant’s capacity to absorb phosphorus, i.e. magnesium is a phosphate synergist. It is often possible to increase phosphate levels in the leaf more efficiently with magnesium than with actual phosphate. Phosphate is arguably the most important element involved in the production of sugar, because a variety of phosphate compounds are needed to fuel the critical reactions required to produce simple sugars. High brix cannot be achieved in the absence of sufficient phosphate.
In conventional leaf analysis data, there is always a range of acceptable levels of each element. All of The Big Four, including magnesium, should be pushed to the luxury end of the acceptable scale.
Cal/Mag Life™ – MMS Precision
A central goal of NTS Plant Therapy™ is the precise correction of nutrient shortages with rapid-release, high-analysis inputs to build both plant health and yield. Precision is the key, and this is the rationale behind the development of another new MMS product called CalMag-Life™. CalMag-Life™ involves micronised European dolomite, suspended in the liquid metabolites of billions of beneficial micro-organisms. Fulvic acid is also included as a mineral solubiliser and bio-stimulant (microbes and fulvic acid are included in all MMS formulations).
CalMag-Life™, containing 18% calcium and 11% magnesium, is appropriate when both calcium and magnesium are deficient (based on leaf analysis). Both of these elements are part of ‘The Big Four’ and should be maintained at luxury levels in the leaf throughout the crop cycle. Unfortunately, good levels of calcium and magnesium in the soil do not necessarily ensure similar levels in the leaf. The majority of leaf tests reveal a requirement for a calcium / magnesium top-up, and CalMag-Life™ micronised dolomite will often be the most suitable option.