Renewable Farming

How biologicals and extra nutrition keep corn alive longer and raise yields

We’re seeing a few corn growers add 30 to 40 bu. onto yields with season-long nutrition and biological products including microbial blends and biostimulants. Their corn has fully mature ears testing around 18% to 20% moisture — while stalks still are alive with lots of green leaf area and fully functional xylem and phloem circulation.

October 12, 2020 — One example of keeping corn healthy until frost is the first photo below, from farmer/agronomist Mike Williams, Pocahantas County, Iowa. He shot this photo while combining at night, September 28. Corn was testing about 19% moisture and the yield monitor hovered around 241 bushels.

This corn is on the same farm as the field shown in our Oct. 3, 2019 report on Mike’s green corn at harvest.

Mike uses a “whole slew” of yield boosters applied with the planter. They vary from year to year, but here’s a “generic” list that can be profitable in-furrow:

1. Vitazyme, the well-proven biostimulant for all crops, made by Vital Earth Resources in Texas. This link takes you to a listing of more than 20 years of field trials with Vitazyme. If you bring up the corn trials, you’ll see some of the trials where our Renewable Farming field trials were done in cooperation with Vital Earth’s head of research, Paul Syltie.

2. A source of energy for live microbials placed in-furrow such as sugars, humic acid, fulvic acid or other humate products. Mike often uses a sugar sold by Conklin called Syntose FA. Renewable Farming has long recommended a sugar source in-furrow. Mike Williams likes it — “cheap and effective.”

3. A microbial mix such as Biodyne’s Environoc 401 for spring application in-furrow. 

4. WakeUP Spring is included at about 3 ounces per acre as a surfactant, penetrant and carrier which accelerates product movement through soil and into emerging roots.

5. Low-salt NPK intended for in-furrow use.

This season, Mike’s field in the first picture below also had two more applications of sugar along with RespiteRx, a 20% potassium formulation from Biodyne USA. 

Mike Y-dropped additional boron during the peak of vegetative growth stage. (Boron is often short in central Iowa soils.)

Further, Mike has been a consistent user of fall residue digestion products, such as Biodyne’s Meltdown, which multiplies soil’s natural biological activity. 

Combine chewing through 241-bu. green corn (testing 19% moisture)
at night in Pocahontas County, Iowa on Sept. 28, 2020

The main objective of season-long nutrition and biological boosters: Instead of applying just dry fertilizer and anhydrous in the fall, plus (perhaps) more nitrogen before planting, farmers who build soil health typically spoon-feed crops through the growing season. Often, they monitor tissue analysis or sap analysis for clues on what to foliar-feed or Y-drop. 

Here’s a quick preview of another green field, this one also in North Central Iowa’s rain-deficit belt. The single-product trial on this sandy field: the endophyte microbial BioEnsure from Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies

Test field of corn treated with late-season BioEnsure



This photo was taken Oct. 1, 2020 and shows a significant percentage of green leaves in spite of only about 4 inches of rain in July through August. Where there was at least some sandy loam — not “almost pure sand” hilltops — the combine monitor was showing well over 200 bushels. Yield dropped sharply where the soil couldn’t retain much moisture, but at least the loamy parts of the field lifted the overall average above 160 bushels. The story on BioEnsure and its companion product, BioTango, is developing as we accumulate more data.