Legumes are a large family of plants that includes beans and peas as well as feed crops like alfalfa and clover. Grown all over the world as food for animals and humans (who doesn't love Baked Beans!), they play an important role because of their unique nitrogen-fixing ability.
It is ironic that farmers spend so much money on Nitrogen fertilisers and yet we are surrounded by Nitrogen in the air we breathe. In fact our atmosphere is 78% Nitrogen. And it's the best type - it's free!
Growing legumes gives you access to this free Nitrogen, although the legume plant doesn't actually do the work itself. The plant has a symbiotic relationship with bacteria called Rhizobia that live inside rhizomes - nodules on the legume's root system. The rhizobia convert atmospheric N2 into ammonia and other Nitrogenous compounds that are easily metabolised by plants and animals. The rhizobia bacteria use enzymes that contain Iron, Molybdenum and/or Vanadium to fix the Nitrogen, and all three of these trace elements are found in Seagreen.
Studies show that a healthy crop of legumes can fix up to 300kg of Nitrogen per hectare! The combination of legumes for Nitrogen and grass for Carbon as a green manure crop produces Humus and fixes Carbon into your soil... this in turn reduces your need for expensive chemical fertilizers.
Legumes of all types respond spectacularly to Seagreen Seaweed - this can be proven by YOU on your farm. Simply dig up the plant carefully to expose those little nodules on the roots... now remove one and with a sharp thin blade cut it in half. If you have sprayed with Seagreen the rhizome will be BLOOD RED from the Iron rich enzymes - this colour shows it is working, fixing nitrogen for growth. Seagreen promotes this remarkable colour change and ensures your legumes are storing maximum nitrogen.
Natural chelators in Seagreen also release locked up phosphorus in your soil which then works directly with the natural nitrogen and the multitude of trace elements from the seaweed, increasing the microbial life and soil organisms such as worms.
Crops and pastures recover faster and more vigorously with higher protein and sugars for greater palatability.
Your cover crops and green manure will be richer, and as they break down to feed the soil life the Seagreen you sprayed as they grew repays you once again.
Seagreen is rich in natural Growth Hormones called Cytokinins, Gibberellins and Auxins (click here to go to our blog about these natural wonders!) as well as vitamins, amino-acids and a natural sticker called alginate.
If you're serious about soils and about the health of your entire farm, or even if you just want some free nitrogen, then legumes will be part of your plan.
Top photo is mung beans growing on the Burdekin, photo courtesy of Scott Harness (our good mate and Seagreen Hub Farm at Clare).
Blog post by Grahame with a bit of tweaking by Liz