Essential Elements  -  Elements are single groups of atoms of the same kind such as calcium and nitrogen.  Note there is 1-4 sections below.  Seventeen known essential elements for life - Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Sulfur, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Boron, Molybdenum, Chlorine, Zinc, Nickel [Sodium, Cobalt, Selenium?]
1 - With respect, the USFS uses the word fertilize which is a word that represents 17 elements which trees and connections such as fungi, require from the soil, yet only apply 1 of the 17?  While extracting a major source of many of these, the store house for nutrients and essential elements, i.e., the CWD or LWD (LARGE WOODY DEBRIS).  The Law of the Minimum needs to be considered.  There are 17 chemical elements essential for healthy growth of trees:  The first 3 come from water and air.  They are often written in short from as CHO.  The other - 14 - come from the soil.  CHO makes up he carbohydrates that carry and supply energy.  The energy comes from the sun.  Elements are not tree food.  Bags of fertilizer is not plant food.  When we fertilize we are not providing food.  We are adding elements that are essential for life. That is all we are doing.  (See NEW TREE BIOLOGY DICTIONARY, SHIGO, 1986 pg 45)  See "Tree Food".

Essential Elements - 2
- "The biggies are N+P+K; Nitrogen + Phosphorus + Potassium; Calcium; Sulfur; Magnesium; They are required for life in higher amounts.  Then we go to the group called micro-elements--please do not call them miner, they are not miner.  They are required in very very low amounts.  Copper, Chlorine, Boron, Nickel, Molybdenum, Zinc, Iron, Manganese.  You should know just a little about what each does.  Just to be on the safe side.  There is a few plants that we think may be able to use some others. They are rare in the Southern USA - Selenium, Silicon and Cobalt.  Some of the above are required by the fungi and not so much by the tree.
Essential Elements-3
 - Minute amounts of microelements can cause big changes in the ways fungi grow.  When trees are fertilized heavily the fungi may not interact with the non-woody roots to form mycorrhizae.  Before elements can be absorbed by roots, they must be in the form of ions that are soluble in water. This is good news and bad news because soluble ions can also be leached from the soil. 


Essential Elements-4  - Elements are too often mistakenly called “nutrients”.  To make this clear, please allow me to share this with you.  Essential elements.  Look at your chart of Atomic Properties of elements.  (Not the Atomic Properties of nutrients)  That’s where you will find your elements.  Look at mycorrhizae.  Is it fungus or is it tree?  YES, mycorrhizae is a composite structure made up of root and fungus tissues.  But if you have the fungus and no tree, do you have mycorrhizae?  NO, you do not have the composite structure made up of root and fungus tissues.  You only have fungus.
If you have a bag of fungi to place on the soil, to establish mycorrhizae, do you have mycorrhizae in the bag?  NO
Take a lichen,  is it algae or fungus?  YES  (People do not like these kinds of answers)
But if you have a bag of algae, do you have lichens.  NO
If you have a nutrient, is it an element or energy?  YES
If you have a bag of elements do you have a nutrient? NO
Do you have a bag of food? NO
You say oh, word games?
With respect: Consider poor Joe who liked alcohol. Drank methanol rather than ethanol. He then quickly learned, as his brain got burned.  That words, are important after all.
Essential Elements-5  - All living things require at least 17 essential elements.  Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen combined make up carbohydrates.  The bonds that hold the CHO together are high energy yielding bonds.  Carbohydrate is tree food.  A healthy tree depends on the correct amounts of essential elements in the soil.  Calcium is made available by decomposing nurse logs (Wood in the once fertile forest with soil contact and the aid of the succession of microorganisms.)  Decomposing wood provides calcium when trees need it.

Note: If you look on page 373 in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, Tenth Edition you will find a list of Chemical Elements as well as symbols, atomic numbers and atomic weight.
Essential Elements-6  -If Dr. Shigo had ever talked about nutrients for trees or plants, in front of his professor, Dr. Lilly, he would have flunked the course, yet it is commonly used.  Everybody is doing it.  Well, we are not a part of that everybody, please understand.  A nutrient is a substance that contains the essentials for life in the best amounts.  That is why we have a nutritious food.  We have a nutritious this and a nutritious that.  It not only has an energy source, but it usually has elements, vitamins and all the other kinds of essentials.  Plants cannot, cannot, cannot, can’t, absorb nutrients.  Well everybody says it Keslick, it’s in the best of publications.  It’s because nobody has stopped them.  Are you going to stop them?  Saying you feed plants with plant food, calling fertilizer food and saying plants absorb nutrients, indicates an absolute ignorance of “photosynthesis”.  So when we hear people talking about plants and nutrients in the soil, which plants are absorbing, we know they just do not understand.  Do you not think it is time to stop some of these things?  Will you help us?  There are a few helpers out there and we need more.  Elements are single groups of atoms of the same kind.  They are potassium, phosphorus, etc.  So think about these things.  Next time you hear someone use the word nutrient, ask them what they mean?  Ask them how a plant absorbs an energy source?  Do you want to put the sun out of business?  Do you know what photosynthesis is?  Ask them.  Think about these things.  See we live in a world where if somebody makes a mistake and is not corrected pretty soon, they begin to believe its true.  Tolstoy said that years and years ago.  Read (Tolstoy).  His quotation is in Dr Shigo’s book on Modern Arboriculture right in the front.  We keep hearing things and we hear them in big places and we think their correct.  Dr Shigo’s professor would have flunked him if he would have used that word incorrectly or any other word incorrectly.  Think about these things, please, please, please think. 

If you believe that you can feed a plant, put the "food" on and then put the plant in the dark.  See what happens. If you could feed plants, there would be no need for photosynthesis, or the light energy of the sun.  Ridiculous!  Stupid!  Why do we keep using the sloppy term?  Because everybody does it.  More ridiculous!  More Stupid!  I, and many other people, refuse to be part of the everybody. Fertilizers are not plant food in the sense of having an energy source.

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1. Plants' essential chemical elements by Dr. Kevin T. Smith

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