Nutrition Enhancement of Produce Grown with a Micronutrient Mineral and Trace Element Supplement

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $1,264.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Robert Teerlinck
Sunny Acres Farm

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: potatoes


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal summary:

    A comparative study of the nutrition content of two produce varieties grown organically with and without added micronutrient, mineral, and trace elements.

    Sunny Acres Farm is a small scale truck farm that grows produce and berries. It is located in eastern Boone County, Missouri at 1750 S. Rangeline Road. The farm is about 6 miles east of Columbia, Missouri and 3/4 of a mile north of Route WW.

    I have been growing 1 1/2 to 2 acres of produce since 2005. I have been gardening since 1975. This farm was certified organic from 1995 through 2001 by the Organic Crop Improvement Association out of Lincoln, Nebraska.

    I use trickle irrigation to conserve water and try to grow most crops using raised beds and plastic mulch. The plastic has to come out of the field at the end of the season.

    I rented this farm to my daughter and son-in-law, Leanne and Bart Spurling for 7 years to operate the Sunny Acres Farm CSA with 130 household subscribers at the end of 2004. They grew upwards of 6 acres of produce, berries, and flowers. They terminated the operation of the CSA at the end of 2004 due to the soon to be arriving triplets. Leanne Spurling has a Soils Agronomy degree from the University of Missouri and was a 4 1/2 year intern/employee at the Rodale research Institute Farm in Kutztown, PA. I will ask her to consult with me on any soil agronomy questions I may have.

    Crops grown: I have been growing tomatoes, sweet and regular potatoes, onions lettuce, kale, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash.

    In 1936 the US Senate issued a document titled Modern Miracle Men. It detailed the depletion of the American farm soils of their micronutrients, minerals, and trace elements. It also stated that this depletion was causing a lot of human health problems in this country at that time. This nutrient depletion continues to this day. This may be why Americans eat so much food that they become obese trying to satisfy their nutritional needs.

    Solution: In the spring of 2011 my wife and I noticed the extended life of salads made with lettuce grown organically and using a micronutrient, mineral and trace element supplement called AZOMITE. She would make a salad in a large bowl with a cover and put it in the refrigerator. We would eat it over time and we noticed that it remained in good condition for upwards of two weeks. This did not happen while using just organic fertilizers. We theorize that AZOMITE reinforced the cell structure of the lettuce plants in such a manner as to keep it in good condition for an extended period of time. My customers at the Columbia Farmers Market say the same thing. This research is proposed, through replicated trial, to show the nutritional variations between produce grown on beds using AZOMITE compared to those not using AZOMITE. The produce vegetables selected will be sweet potatoes and lettuce.

    This research will be used to add to the body of knowledge concerning nutrient migration from nutrient reinforced soil to the finished produce product to the consumers. This study will include a possible list of up to 22 nutrients which are desired for human healthy. This list has been reviewed by a registered dietician and will be reviewed again before the study begins.
    1. The field selected has not previously been treated with AZOMITE.
    2. The field beds layout will be for a full 6 replications per the on-farm research guide from the University of Illinois. That will result in 12 beds and they will be randomly assigned. Six will be treated with AZOMITE and six will not be treated with the supplement. Standard organic fertilizer will be applied to all beds.
    3. Raise beds, lay down trickle irrigation tape and plastic mulch.
    4. Put up an electric fence to keep deer out.
    5. Plant vegetable plants and monitor field, take photos and keep a log of all activity.
    6. When vegetable are mature take tissue samples and send into the lab for analysis.
    7. Get help with data collected to determine if there is any significant difference between the two growing methods.

    A. I will give a presentation of the results of this research at the NCR-SARE Farmers Forum at the National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference in early November 2012 in Columbia, Missouri.
    B. I will also compile the results in a paper for submission to Small Farm Today magazine, Acres USA magazine and the Growing for Market newsletter.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.