Low-cost ways to leverage yield gains from biologicals, biostimulants and nutrients

This season we'll field-test a few more potentially synergistic combinations of crop residue digesting fungi, nutrients and in-furrow biological products. Plus, of course, WakeUP Spring to amplify their effects. We're cooperating with companies and our nearby professional field-testing firm, Agricultural Custom Research (ACRES) to get statistical results.

May 11, 2018 — One promising field test will be on excellent soils near Denver in northeast Iowa. It's on 2017 corn ground which will be planted to soybeans this season.

Last fall 60-ft. wide strips of the stalk field were sprayed with Biodyne USA's residue-digesting blend of microbials called Environoc 501. This spring we're coordinating with ACRES research associate Steve Schmidt to apply replicated trials of in-furrow WakeUP Spring tank-mixed with Environoc 401, which is Biodyne's bacterial blend for seed and in-furrow treatment. Objective: What's the benefit of the Environoc 501 alone, vs. controls? What's the benefit of fall-applied Environoc 501 plus in-furrow Environoc 401 including WakeUP Spring to mobilize it?

An interesting aspect: Some of these residue breakdown applications will be on stalks crimped by the Yetter Devastator roller, which cracks open stalks for easier microbial penetration. Others will be on untouched stalk ground.

Already in early May, we can see a few hints that the friendly fungal mix, Environoc 501, sprayed last fall is having some visible digestion impact on stalks.  And that's in spite of cold temperatures last fall plus this spring. Last fall, the Environoc 501 wasn't applied until Nov. 20. Applying where there are some 50-degree days and nights to activate the fungi and bacteria is a constant challenge at this latitude.

Temperatures since last November and this May have been unusually chilly in northeast Iowa: There have been only 16 days of average daily temperatures above 50 degrees between the spray date of Nov. 20, 2017 and the date on which the two bottom photos below were taken: May 9, 2018. 

The first photo nearby shows stalks crunched by the Yetter Devastator last fall. We reported on this last Oct. 20.  

The roller-crimper mounts beneath the combine head, so there's no extra trip to nock down and crack open stalks. The stalks are also tipped forward or flattened, to avoid chewing up combine tires.

 

The second photo also shows stalks that were hit with the crimping roller of the Devastator. This part of the field was not sprayed with Environoc 501, the fungal/bacterial blend that digests cellulose and lignin. Stalks which remained out of contact with the soil are a bit weathered, but still retain most of last fall's yellow color. Husks and fragments lying on the ground are gray with natural fungal invasions.

 

 

The third photo shows crimped stalks which were treated with Environoc 501 on Nov. 20, 2017. Surfaces of the stalks are quite uniformly gray, indicating colonization of residue-devouring "friendly fungi." With warmer weather, these stalks will decompose rapidly, without competing aggressively for nitrogen during the crop's weeks of greatest nutrient demands.

 

We'll track the progress of these biologicals through the season. A primary purpose of active residue breakdown is not instant yield response, but rather the steady recapture of carbon for soil health and humus buildup.  Even so, farmers who applied Environoc 401 plus WakeUP Spring in-furrow in early 2017 reported significant yield gains on corn.  We'll see if there's a comparable response with soybeans.