Renewable Farming

Idaho fertility company reconfirms yield power of silica, calcium and “minor” elements

Bob Streit, founder of Central Iowa Agronomics, has the keenest instinct of anyone we know for finding promising new technologies for improving crop yields and profits. We’re posting below an edited excerpt from Bob’s newest field report, focusing on a relatively new silica-based product from Redox Chemical Company, based in Burley, Idaho. 

August 14, 2017 — Redox offers a wide array of crop-enhancing productsRedox is a specialty plant nutrient company that focuses on innovative plant growth technology. Its technology has 11 key soluble carbon compounds reacted with plant nutrients to enhance performance.  Bob anticipates that results he saw with Redox products on sugar beets, potatoes and other crops in the northwestern U.S. could soon amplify yield gains across large-acreage crops like Midwest corn and soybeans.

One fascinating aspect of the work Redox is doing: Some of their product line involves specially-reacted silica, which was stressed as an important growth factor more than 30 years ago by Dr. Carey Reams and one of his most perceptive students. Dr. Dan Skow, founder of International Ag Labs in Fairmon, MN.

Dave Larson, founder of AgriEnergy Resources in Princeton, IL, also researched and recommended silica preparations. As we recall, mentions of silica aroused a lot of skepticism at seminars, where farmers largely shrugged that silica — silicon dioxide — is basically sand. And the basic element, silicon, makes up about 27% of the earth’s outer mantle. But Dr. Reams knew from his own field research that properly reacted and applied silica can have virtually a catalytic impact on crop development by mobilizing other nutrients. Streit has picked up the scent on what Redox is doing from its Idaho base, and indicates he’d like to test these concepts in the Midwest. Here’s the relevant section on Redox, excerpted from Bob’s latest field report which you can find on the Central Iowa Agronomics website. 

Crop consultant Bob Streit

A New Company and Line of Products

On the recommendations of a northern Minnesota farmer friend who raises corn, beans and sugar beets, I contacted the product agronomist from Redox Chemical Company. He came to the Midwest in May to present and to describe the role of each of their products. The research and field data in the presentation looked very impressive and perhaps applicable to Midwest growers.

Based on an invite to visit their research locations while the weather was hot and stressy, if I wanted to see how their product helped stressed plants, it was time to travel out to Utah and Idaho. I went out there last Thursday and toured with them and held meetings thru Saturday.    

What I saw was impressive. An agronomist/DVM we were taught by, who learned from a teammate of Einstein, had always mentioned that silica or silicon could be an important element. [Note: Bob is referring here to Dr. Dan Skow.] Silica is not listed as an essential element, but crucial to drought and disease resistance. I got to see where it had been applied to corn, potatoes and sugar beets.

What was most noticeable was that the leaves seemed to be three to four times thicker and in sugar beets, as rubbery and as strong as a truck inner tube. In the farmer’s fields the sugar beets, which normally have to be sprayed 4 to 6 times with insecticides and fungicides, had not received any and looked 100% healthy. The expected yield on the field was projected to be 60 tons per acre at 18% sugar. Normal out there is about 40 tons at 16% sugar.

In corn the silica material and other minerals had been applied to a center pivot irrigated field planted at 40,000 seeds per acre. The plant health was superb and they seemed to be in great shape. It was a 103 RM hybrid planted in early May at 42 degrees N latitude at about 4200 feet elevation. What was most noticeable was that most plants had either two or three full size ears that were running 18 to 20 rows around and 34 to 38 kernels long. The leaves felt much more rigid, yet soft, and did not cause paper cuts to your arms. I asked them to take pictures and let me know the final yield.

I have not been around potato culture much, except to be able to detect insects and diseases if they were a problem. The potato  field I visited looked terrific. They controlled potato cyst and root knot nematodes with a mixture of different Ca, Si, and botanical extracts.  Both pests are a constant problem in that crop, but their botanical product eliminated them as a yield-damaging factor. It did not wipe out their populations, it just made the plants immune.

In all of the fields, the need for irrigation water had been reduced by a third. That made me wonder if it would do the same for dryland crops. It seemed to, on their pivot corners. Their research findings and conference proceedings from testing in Brazil suggested the same.

I had asked their corporate agronomist, John Kelly, when we met in May about how to help my fruit crops. He said that their Ca and Ca-Si products would increase the size and sugar content, which would increase their shelf life dramatically. I tried some, and last week, when I picked a full box of our peaches that were bigger than baseballs (some as large as softballs), I had to be believe him.

After seeing their crops and reading the literature, when they said they would like to test their products in the Midwest next summer, it made perfect sense to me. If they helped with stalk strength, improved drought tolerance, increased the fruit or seed size, and lessened disease in a western climate they should be worth testing in the Midwest on row crops.

Bob Streit is on the trail of other potentially important agronomic “finds” from Brazil and around the globe. We try to stay in touch with several leading-edge crop consultants and scientists. Our role is primarily to advance healthy crops and soils. We find that many of the biostimulants and micronutrients being “discovered” now perform even better when mobilized by WakeUP.

Update: Soon as the item hit the web, Keith Schlapkohl of BRT in Ladora, IA phoned to remind us of some field research he had done earlier, showing that diatomaceous earth added to dry fertilizer often showed a yield response. Diatomaceous earth is from the skeletons of microscopic ocean organisms. The powder-like product is primarily… silica.