Biodyne USA of Fort Wayne, IN just published its detailed array of field trials measuring the benefits of its biologicals such as Environoc 401 and Meltdown, which we market here at Renewable Farming. Biodyne is one of the few “bio” firms investing substantial sums each year to evaluate and publish on-farm benefits of residue digesters, in-furrow microbial products and seed treatments.
February 1, 2020 — You can view the Biodyne 2019 research trial summary at this link. It’s in a format that you can view by flipping through several pages of their new online reference book.
We studied the trial report and summed up an overview of yield responses. Field trials with microbial and biostimulant products are a challenge. Corn yield benefits for residue digesters and in-furrow microbials are typically less than 10 bu. per acre, which is difficult to “see” without careful random-rep research protocols. However, Biodyne has assembled widely diverse field trials for several years which show an excellent payback. Corn yield increases typically range from 5 to 10 bu. per acre for a product cost of about $8 per acre.
Our own field trials show that WakeUP formulations generally enhance the performance of biologicals such as in-furrow treatments, where we recommend WakeUP Spring. It’s probably the surfactant benefit, improving the ability of roots to absorb and transport the dissolved nutrients.
Biodyne’s microbial products are formulated with over two dozen beneficial microbial species, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these organisms fix nitrogen. Others convert sequestered organic nitrogen to plant-available ammonia form. Some make phosphorus soluble so crop roots can absorb it for plant metabolism. Several species, especially those in residue breakdown blends, aggressively digest stalk cellulose and lignin. Still others exude plant-stimulating vitamins and hormones. The microbial mix is blended for each use from more than two dozen species of organisms, which are incubated in isolated, pure form and then combined. Often, additional nutrients are added to the products to stimulate quick reproduction in the field.
Here’s our condensation of Biodyne’s 2019 trials. We encourage you to browse the detailed results. To download and print a PDF of the data from our website, click on this link.
1. Environoc 401 is applied in-furrow. In 15 field trials during 2019, average corn yield benefit was 9.4 bushels. In one soybean trial, in-furrow 401 alone outyielded the comparison field which had 100 lbs. per acre of 18-46-0 and 100 lbs. of 0-0-6 at a cost of $52.21 per acre. The pint of 401 cost $8 per acre. The Environoc-only trial yielded 2.6 bu. more and the increase in profit was $66. We’re seeing several growers trimming back starter fertilizer and using that cash to add in-furrow 401 plus 3 ounces of WakeUP Spring.
BD-Biocast has a similar microbial formulation as 401, but it’s intended to spray over the row, premerge, typically with 28% or 32% nitrogen and possibly herbicide. It’s primarily for farmers who don’t use in-furrow liquid application. A northern Iowa Biocast trial showed a 6.41-bu. gain on soybeans. A corn trial with BD-Biocast and 32% with herbicide turned in a 12-bu. gain on corn versus 32% with herbicide but no BD-Biocast.
2. Biodyne’s Meltdown and Environoc 501, sister products for broadcast residue digestion, showed positive yield responses: Meltdown the previous fall on cornstalks showed a 4.5 bu. gain for soybeans in Nebraska and 5 bu. in an Iowa trial. Over the years, we’ve been encouraging a “patient” expectation on yield benefits for residue digestion products. Over the years, these breakdown organisms improve tilth, water holding capacity and greatly expanded natural biological life. They can enhance Haney scores — a measure of soil health.
Here’s our opinion, based on other field experience: We recommend a combination of biologicals, such as a fall Meltdown application immediately after corn harvest, then an in-furrow injection of 401 plus WakeUP Spring at planting. In a Washington County, IA field test, Meltdown plus 401 without WakeuP saw an 8-bu. increase in bean yields. Even with beans at a sorry $8 per bushel, that’s a $64 gain for about an $18 per acre biological product cost. Most farmers like to see at least a $4 return per $1 risked. This combination is very similar to our long-recommended use of fall Residue spraying (an AgriEnergy product) plus spring application of AgriEnergy’s SP-1.
Also please review the other Biodyne product results on their new research report, such as two Midwest trials showing over a 4 bu. per acre increase.
Biodyne included another helpful field trail result: an independent research firm’s comparison of their Environoc 401 with five other biological products on soybeans, apparently in-furrow. This is the first time we’ve seen such a comparison. (Note the bar chart below.) Environoc 401 edged out the others in yield. But the chart indicates that the five other microbial mixes are also beneficial, showing a range of 2.4 bu. to 4.3 bu. yield gain.
To us, it suggests that it’s worth using some brand of in-furrow biological yield enhancer, rather than none. It’s a confirmation that vigorous soil biolife pays.
To help quantify this benefit, Biodyne USA contracted with Brookside Labs to conduct more than 400 soil tests in Iowa at 15 locations “to help understand more fully the role of microbes in soil biology.”