Renewable Farming

Fall residue digestion helps for all of your crops, not just corn

The “granddaddy” of crop residue digester products is Residuce, by AgriEnergy Resources. It has been widely and successfully used about 30 years. With all that field experience, AgriEnergy has been able to adjust the microbe mix for versatile use on any crop or soil.

Oct. 8, 2017 — Following is a message sent by AgriEnergy a few days ago to its clients, reminding them that residue decomposition is useful on other crops besides cornstalks:

Using biology in the fall has its benefits in perennial crops like hay and pasture.

AgriEnergy’s Residuce® program has shown to help break down harvest residue more quickly. Applying right after the final cutting of hay, or in early fall, gives beneficial bacteria and fungi more time to work. 

Residuce®, along with abundant soil moisture over the winter, will trigger decomposition and lead to a mellower seedbed next spring. Soil warms up fast because residue has begun to darken and crumble. The greater your soil biology activity, the greater your soil productivity and fertility effect will be. This gives your soil a head start on next year’s crop. 

Nearby is a picture of a Michigan hay field where Residuce® was applied. Residuce®, along with a carbon source, can show dramatic results such as faster green-up and thatch breakdown. 

The treated strip shows Residuce®, compared to the untreated where nothing was applied. The treated strip allows moisture and nutrients to easily absorb into the soil. Water holding capacity is also a benefit, as well as converting thatch to recaptured carbon instead of just letting it weather away. 

Here’s a close-up of the untreated strip: lots of trash and thatch soaking up moisture; reducing infiltration of moisture going to the roots. 

Untreated hayfield. Lots of thatch

Compare that untreated field with this close-up of the side treated with Residuce: very clean, very little thatch, lots of hay growth, moisture is able to soak directly into the soil and root bed.

Treated hayfield. Most thatch digested into nutrients,
which rain can carry to roots
AgriEnergy perfected a way of extracting all water from microbial formulations, so there’s very little shipping cost to deliver the powder-like blend of dormant organisms which you simply mix with water and apply. Given moisture and a temporary energy supply, the bacteria and fungi begin multiplying rapidly. In the soil, some organisms reproduce every half-hour or less. That generate thousands of trillions of live, hungry microbes in just a few days.
One experiment we’d like to see done: Compare various “digesters” side by side in a two to three-season trial, and keep score of yields, penetrometer readings and Haney soil tests which include a measure of soil biological activity. It’s possible that some proprietary microbe mixtures may be more effective on your soil than others. One general observation we’ve seen over the years: Crop response is usually more clear-cut in soils where the climate is warmer and organic matter is lower.