Alternative cover crop burndown products are emerging for 2022 and beyond

Here's a message from Iowa crop consultant Bob Streit which he sent to clients and friends Dec. 12. 

December 16, 2021: By Bob Streit I attended a meeting with the Spraytec company in Ft. Dodge last week. They are a futuristic mineral company from Maringa, Parana State in Brazil. Don Huber and I were their guests in 2017 to give talks at several different locations  and tour/visit with their scientific staff and view their greenhouse work. We were impressed with what we saw in that they were developing phosphite, mineral and amino acid blends that supplied minerals that moved systemically through the plants to keep the plants healthy and facilitate stronger growth. To this point I have only seen one other company in this field that is ready to have as large an impact with growers who are on the regenerative Ag path.

Bob Streit

We suspect the 2022 growing season may be as wild as we have seen due to the interruption in the supply chains and uncertainty in procuring products that we still need to produce our crops. Much of the news and forecasting as to supply shortages and delivery dates sound scary. Different chem reps whom spoke at our ICCA meeting two weeks ago said to ‘hope and pray’ for availability of many items.  We have to hope for the best and develop contingency plans as time progresses.

The use and practice of planting cover crops is supported by many different groups as covers prevent erosion, build soil organic matter and can help prevent weed seed germination and growth. The normal termination product used in past years has been glyphosate. While the planting of cover crops is meant to enhance soil health, the application of glyphosate destroys the Glomulus and Mycorrhizal species of fungi. One huge fact with glyphosate is its price for 2022 is 3X or 4X times last year’s price.

Thus, soil health advocates would love to find several affordable, alternative, non-selective vegetation killers. One introduced this year and commercially available for the first time is Terminator 20 from Contact Organics out of Australia. It is a mix of high grade vinegar plus a patented blend of oils and salts and is much faster than glyphosate, acting in all temperatures. Success with it depends on thorough coverage and higher gallonage. Organic and higher concentration versions are on the way. The latter will lower per acre cost for terminating large acres of cover crops.

On Thursday we learned of a new Boron-based product that is currently available for the people that jump first on the limited supply. Boron is a product that is deficient in 90% of tissue samples analyzed by Midwest Labs. Its role in the corn plant is to tell the plants where to send sugars to add to grain quality and test weight. It's also involved in the pollination processes of many crops. By improving plant heath, that vitality helps keep insects at bay. Because Boron is highly soluble and we had very wet 2018 and 2019 seasons, most soils have been deficient and require a Boron application

While the mineral has many benefits, it has a narrow window of application to crops. If too much is applied to the plants, it can burn the vegetation with damage ranging from minor leaf burn to complete annihilation of the foliage. A rate of 1 lb/A that will cause no damage when soil applied will terminate a thick 2.5 feet tall rye crop very quickly when foliar applied. 2 lbs/A have proven effective in burning all the foliage off a thick 10-ft. jungle of sugar cane grown in Brazil.

The Spraytec company has built a two part mixture where .5 to 1.0 lb. of Boron Max is mixed with 2 oz. of their Fulltec Adjuvant and applied to a cover crop. The results seen in Iowa in 2021 looked extremely good. The beauty of this is that most corn and bean fields were needing that much Boron applied anyhow for the 2022 crop. If it were applied as a foliar and not to the soil, it will act as a burndown with no added cost except $2 for the adjuvant.

I have a number of growers who have been planting cover crops and rolling or crimping it down to form a mat which suppresses germination and weed growth. The success has been good if the mat is complete. This year, when we have to rely on overlapping residuals, there may not be enough herbicide supply for everyone to get their normal amount they had planned for. Therefore planting oats or rye early next spring and terminating it with Boron Max may be a program to consider. The cost will be around $10.50 per acre for the 1 lb rate and half of that for a burndown of a shorter crop. Your cost when you apply it to the soil would be the same.

I have attached a few articles about the use of Boron for this purpose. Plus one that tells of where the idea came from and one about a large farm operation which has used Boron in this manner for 4 or 5 years. The supply is limited. There is now a large warehouse in Ft. Dodge so the supply is local. Getting it reserved by Dec. 18 gives you a better shot at having your order filled. 

Boron Max is packaged in 25-lb. boxes which include 50 oz. of the Fulltec adjuvant. I will have to see if it could gain an OMRI label. That box would then treat from 25 to 50 acres depending on canopy height and density.     

Bob Streit   515-709-0143

Carol Streit  515-21-6710 

Marv Mortensen  515-370-3381

 

References:

Link to Fulltec Boron Max Safety Data Sheet:  https://www.spraytec.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/01/Safety-Data-Sheet-Fulltec-Boron-Max.pdf

Link to product literature on Fulltec Boron Max: https://www.spraytec.com/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/06/Flyer-Boron-Max-8.5-x-11-Compressed.pdf

Download a PDF document explaining how Dr. Don Huber was instrumental in Spraytec's development of boron as a nutrient and defoliant.

https://www.renewablefarming.com/images/2021images/2021PDF/20211216-boron.pdf