In an Iowa season where almost nothing overcame stress, this in-furrow mix worked

This fall's "data harvest" of field trial results is proving as frustrating for researchers as the too-dry, then too-wet season was for farmers. Wide yield differences across test strips and plots imposed such data variance that discerning effects of treatments was often futile.

November 16, 2018 — We've contended with plot variability for over a decade. Finding a statistically significant 5-bu. or 10-bu. yield response to a biological yield enhancer or foliar nutrient can be tough, even with 5 or 10 random replications, when wild weather or drainage differences disrupt the yield patterns.

However, a Humboldt County, Iowa client of the Gold Eagle Co-op turned in yield monitor data which is clearly definitive.

This farmer found more than a 20-bu. gain for an in-furrow package of:

1. Biodyne USA's spring in-furrow biological, Environoc 401, designed to inoculate emerging roots to enhance root growth, nutrient uptake and ability to extract moisture with abundant mycorrhizal growth.

2. Vitazyme, from Vital Earth Resources in Texas, a biological stimulant which accelerates metabolism of any crop.

3. WakeUP Spring, our Renewable Farming LLC formulation which we recommend for in-furrow or two-leaf application. It speeds absorption and internal mobility of nutrients through leaves and roots. It just helps everything else do its job.

This chart of data provided by Gold Eagle shows two untreated test areas which yielded 169 and 167.4 bu. per acre. This yield similarity is a signal that soil and drainage conditions in the test area were quite consistent. The three-way in-furrow package led to a 189.4-bu. yield, for a 21.2-bu. benefit. Corn was planted May 26 at a population of 34,500. The 2017 crop had been soybeans. Harvest on Nov. 8, 2018. Moisture in all corn was 18% to 19%. Seed in all three test areas was treated with an anti-fungal, Tripidity.

Even at $3.50 cash corn (March delivery) after delivery and drying costs, a 21.2-bu. gain offers a $74 per acre benefit.

Treatment ingredient costs at our spring 2018 retail prices per acre:

1. $8.56 for 16 oz. of Environoc 401.

2. $2.77 for 6 oz. of Vitazyme.

3. $2.11 for 3 oz. of WakeUP Spring.

Total ingredient cost per acre: $13.44.

That generates a return/cost ratio of $5 per each $1 of product cost. Those favorable odds are often the reward/risk ratio which many farmers want — before they test an unfamiliar yield booster.

Mike Williams, agronomist with Gold Eagle, told us this morning that he knows of other similar tests of this combination which are under review for release. "Not as dramatic, but still around 7 bu. per acre gains or so," he said. That's still almost a $2 return per $1 risked.

Most foliar and in-furrow yield enhancers offer 5-bu. or 7-bu. nudges to corn yields. But if they do so consistently, under a wide variation of field conditions, they can earn supporting roles in a total production system.

Another benefit to microbial inoculants: A buildup of beneficial soil bacteria and fungi also has long-term benefits of stabilizing yields in adverse conditions. It's a gradual gain, not a one-time yield response.