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The history of Brookside Laboratories Inc [U.S.A.] has been a success story that has changed the face of our understanding of soil-plant-animal nutrition, giving practical results to farmers whilst increasing their profitability and productivity.

From Tragedy to Triumph

The Brookside Organisation was the brain child of E. Kuck [said "Cook"], but its history stemmed from tragedy when after the loss of Mr and Mrs Kuck's ten year old son and the extreme sickness of Mr Kuck's mother through undulant fever in 1937, Mr Kuck proceeded to dedicate his life to basic research into the subject of safe and nutritious milk. His first step was to acquire the family farm "Brookside Farms" in Ohio, U.S.A. He was able to produce and process Certified Table Milk and was fully licensed in 1938. At the same time a smoke house on the farm was converted to establish the Brookside Farms Laboratory.

In the late 1930's Mr Kuck together with the services of Professor Oscar Erf researched into finding the causes and possible remedies for such disorders as Brucellosis, Milk Fever, Mastitis and 'White Scours' in young calves. However, after five years of research no concrete results emerged, although a substantial pattern developed that indicated nutrient balances affect health disorders in cattle. But it was not until 1945 that an unusual occurrence happened that launched Brookside Laboratories to its world class ranking. This occurred when a building was constructed to house new calves. Mr Kuck and his associates noticed that when the calves were placed in their stalls, they literally started to eat the plaster finish from the walls and some scouring calves appeared to be miraculously cured!

The Albrecht Influence

The association of Dr Albrecht with the Brookside Organisation stems back to a personal friendship with Mr Kuck, which proved to be highly rewarding in finding the answer as to why the calves stopped scouring. After consultation with Albrecht, Kuck determined that the animals' hunger was for the calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate in the plaster material. Both nutrients had been removed from the soil and had never been replaced. Continuing research started to explain and rectify this imbalance by supplying these essential elements in mineral supplements that were fed to the cows. This resulted in the eradication of white scours in their young calves and improved herd health. Albrecht noted to Kuck that when animals take elements from a 'mineral box' it was an act of desperation, for they are not naturally mineral eaters. Albrecht wrote "Soil Fertility - The Basis for Formulating an Agricultural Policy" specifically for Kuck and his associates. This document added a new emphasis to coordinated research at Brookside Laboratories, which resulted in the identification of disorders affecting dairy cattle being linked to mineral deficiencies in the soil and the plants they consumed.

On retirement from the University of Missouri, Albrecht chose to work at Brookside providing technical training for consultants whilst he continued his research*, which helped lay the foundations for coordinated research that has gone on to have worldwide success. But proven success in the paddock does not necessary meet with scientific approval.

Rejection By Traditional Science

Mr Kuck together with his Brookside colleagues were excited about their new finding how Magnesium was e ssential to both the prevention of calf scours and for the improvement of soil and plant health. They invited eminent scientists to a field day to share and discuss their findings. The scientific community basically ignored and refused to attend, as these new unorthodox practices were contrary to their traditional views. In desperation Brookside allowed the publication of their findings in a major country paper and within days they were inundated by 1,000's of farmers' letters asking for assistance and more information. This new found support gave Brookside a new momentum that carried it into further research at both a laboratory and practical on farm level. In 1951 Kuck and six friends incorporated the Brookside Farms Laboratories Ass'n Inc, which was the first organisation to fully integrate soil-plant-animal nutrition and the rest is history.

Duplicating Nature

The Brookside/Albrecht concept is very simple in its basic logic. Tests were initially done on soils that consistently grew the highest quality crop yields and it was found that these soils all had a similar chemistry with available Calcium levels being between 60-70% and available Magnesium levels being between 10-20%. Very definite levels were also established for Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorous, Sulphur and the trace elements. Over fifty percent of agricultural crops and high production pastures grow best within this range of soil chemistry. It has been proven, again and again, that a balanced approach to soil chemistry is the key to successful plant growth and that when this occurs soil pH, aeration, drainage, structure and beneficial soil biology also improve. Thus, if we can balance our soil chemistry including the trace elements, improved productivity and plant and animal health will be the natural outcome.

Modern Agriculture

Many soils are clearly defined by the vegetation that grows on them. For example in Australia there is "Tee Tree" or "Stringy Bark" country. Yet we have attempted to grow crops and pasture on soils that have a huge diversification. Often initially productivity was lifted with the use of Superphosphate [and Legumes / Clover] giving excellent results, especially when combined with trace elements. Today increased emphasis has been placed on the use of costly Nitrogen, which is indicating that our soil natural fertility is declining and increased artificial supplementation is necessary. Modern traditional practices have placed emphasis on N.P.K. and yet it takes sixteen elements to grow a plant. If one of these elements is lacking, optimum natural growth cannot be achieved. Many soils lack enough Calcium, which Albrecht calls "the Princess of elements." Normally the use of Calcium is often determined by a soil's pH, i.e. an acid soil may need liming. However, the equation is not that simple, for we are still on a learning curve in understanding soil and the relevance of a soils pH. There is increasing overseas evidence to suggest that too much emphasis is placed solely on the pH of the soil. pH is only one indicator and needs to be considered in conjunction with availability of other elements. Under the Brookside concept emphasis is placed on the balance of all the elements and the use or rejection of Calcium is not just made on the soils' pH. For example pH is greatly affected by the Calcium/Magnesium balance in the soil, consequently a soil may be alkaline due to high levels of Magnesium. A high pH may mask or hide a lack of Calcium and in fact Calcium may be needed on an alkaline soil. On the other hand in an acid soil trace elements like Molybdenum are often not available to plants. Traditionally some pastures respond to an application of Molybdenum. Under a balanced approach to soil fertility all the elements are assessed and corrected within a farmer's budget. As the soil pH rises with applications of Calcium [Limestone] or Calcium and Magnesium [Dolomite] the Molybdenum becomes more available and the use of future applications are often not necessary.

Historically, the Brookside / Albrecht approach aims not only to solve the problems of imbalanced soil, which are associated with low productivity, but to improve plant and stock health and the quality of the produce that you raise.

The information contained in this publication has been formulated in good faith, the contents do not take into account all the factors which need to be considered before putting that information into practice. Accordingly, no person should rely on anything contained herein as a substitute for specific professional advice.
S.O.S. Rev 9.2 All rights reserved. Contact: www.healthyag.com © Gwyn Jones 2001

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