Should I add molasses to the soil?

Organic Agriculture March 02, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF
Several types of molasses are widely available, where molasses is any liquid feed ingredient that contains at least 43% sugars. Cane (0.5:0.8:2.4) and beet (1:0.3:4.7) derived molasses are the most abundant sources. Molasses contains high levels of potassium relative to N and P as well as vitamins and trace elements, including iron. Molasses addition to soils can stimulate rapid microbial decay of resident organic matter and so additions can prompt quick release of soil N to create short term yield benefits. The long term influence of this practice and relative cost of this material compared to other sources of K might be a concern. If local sources, including processing wastes, are available, molasses could be applied in concert with high carbon residues and appropriate P sources. In order to be used as a soil or crop amendment, the molasses must be natural and contain no prohibited substances (see Can I Use This Input on My Organic Farm?). In order for molasses to be used as a feed or feed additive for organic livestock, the molasses must be organic.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.