SJB Chelates – What’s The Difference?

They say ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, & at SJB we know all about that! In recent times we have had 3 or 4 opposition companies coming out with ‘identical’ products/ranges (ie. same analysis, lignosulphonate based) & of course always cheaper than the SJB original.

Firstly, this is a testament to the quality & success of SJB products in the market. We’ve been around since 1989 & established a strong brand & reputation in the Australian industry, so it’s not surprising that our competitors are trying to take advantage of that by producing cheaper copycat products. The usual sales pitch to growers is “Yeah it’s as good as SJB but cheaper”, and while this is incorrect, it’s still an admission by our competitors that SJB products are the benchmark when it comes to lignosulphonate (LS) chelates.

So are all lignosulphonate products created equal? Are the claims by our competitors actually true?

Over the years we have put these claims to the test (literally) comparing pH, nutrient analysis, specific gravity, colour, HPLC, viscosity & lignin content & funnily enough we’ve never found a product that’s the same as ours. In fact for several products we’ve found they contained no LS at all, but had substituted LS for inferior humic or fulvic acids.

In terms of the source of the LS, it’s important to realise that there are literally hundreds of different types available, most of which are not suitable for foliar absorption. The LS used in our products is exclusive to SJB & not available to other companies.

We also use significantly more chelate per unit of nutrient than our competitors. The difference in performance (& safety) between a partially chelated & fully chelated product is significant. The real value of a chelated product is the chelating agent (to state the obvious), not the nutrient. The higher the percentage of active chelating agent, the more effective & efficient the product will be at delivering nutrients into the plant. This is why SJB chelates have comparatively low nutrient analysis compared to many other ‘chelated’ products on the market. For example, the highest zinc sulphate liquid (non-chelated) available contains about 16% Zn, any higher and this solution will drop out. LIG-ZINC contains 8% Zn but this leaves us room in the solution to add significant amounts of active chelating agent. The reality is as you increase zinc concentration you have to reduce the percentage of chelate (it’s a fact of chemistry). So a ‘chelated’ product with 15% zinc for example is going to have very low levels of chelating agent & therefore a low level of nutrient chelation (eg. <10%).

There is also the important matter of formulation technology & the specific IP involved in this process. The complex nature of the LS compound & its interactions with various nutrients is a science all itself. The manufacturing process is a vital component of product quality to optimise efficacy & shelf life.

But the greatest value in SJB products is not actually the product, but rather the people behind the products! Yes we know we have great products, but so do other companies. We firmly believe chelates offer growers greater flexibility, safety & results, but non-chelated nutrients can also be quite effective & have their place in the market. Good products on their own don’t guarantee results, however the combination of good products with knowledge, experience & service does & that’s what SJB provides for all their growers.

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