Renewable Farming

These “Energized” Microbes Amplify Crop Residue Digestion and Nutrient Recapture

It’s the water. That famous Olympia beer slogan of 1902 applies to a new technology this fall: Using Pursanova’s activated water to “brew” trillions of vigorous microbes eager to digest your stalk residue. The water’s molecular oscillation is “tuned” to synchronize with natural soil moisture. And the microbes respond. The energized microbe mix is labeled MicroChop. Here’s the story.

October 7, 2021 By Jerry Carlson   Vatché Keuftedjian, founder and owner of Pursanova Ltd. Inc., discovered this season that his water conversion technology enhances reproduction and viability of beneficial microbes commonly used to digest crop residue.

That’s logical to us at Renewable Farming. We’ve used Pursanova’s water activation system in our homes and farming for over a decade. 

Andy Dardini, manager at Soil Matrix

Biological-product firms have spent 30 years testing fungal and bacterial species for effective residue breakdown. AgriEnergy Solutions developed Residuce about three decades ago. The challenge: Assuring that the product you buy contains high numbers of viable, vigorous organisms. Five tons of stalk and cob residue recaptured biologically after a 250-bu. corn harvest contain roughly 112 lbs. of N, 40 lbs. of P2O5 and 275 pounds of K2O. Why let those valuable nutrients oxidize and leach away? DTN reports: “Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) is 74% higher than a year ago while diammonium phosphate (DAP) is 63% higher. Nitrogen fertilizers such as urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) has gone up 78% from a year ago while potash is 85% higher.” 

Andy Dardini, manager at Soil Matrix, a new biological firm based in Ohio, tells me: “Our lab tests of competitive residue digesters indicated wide variation in viable microbe numbers. Best was about 70 million per fluid milliliter of solution. With our cultures grown in Pursanova-treated water synchronized with natural soil water, MicroChop contains five to six billion live microbes per fluid milliliter.”

Vatché Keuftedjian adds, “If a grower uses Pursanova-treated water as the carrier when spraying MicroChop, coverage and penetration into crop residue and soil is so deep and complete that we expect these bacteria and fungi to live and multiply, season after season. Our goal: Stimulate a renewable farming cycle in the soil so farmers don’t need to re-apply replacement microbes every season.”

The Soil Matrix firm cultures MicroChop in 2,500-gallon stainless tanks at 85 degrees F. at their plant near Rudolph, Ohio. “This fall, many of our farmer clients have applied fresh MicroChop within a couple of days after a batch has multiplied microbes to maximum populations,” says Dardini. He’s a Purdue University grad with a crop consulting and classroom teaching background.

Soil Matrix sells MicroChop only in 275-gal. totes. Retail is $32 per gallon and application rate is one quart per acre for an $8 per acre product cost. This fall, Soil Matrix is delivering totes freight-paid in the Midwest.

The firm also builds a microbial energy source called MicroFuel retailing for $16 per gallon, or $4 per acre at a quart per acre. It’s intended to stimulate  existing soil biological activity and amplify the benefits of MicroChop.

Massive roots proliferated in cover crops grown
in soil treated with MicroChop early this spring.

Field research on MicroChop’s effectiveness is brief but clear-cut.

Scott Apple, a partner in the Soil Matrix venture, sprayed test strips with MicroChop over standing winter wheat June 1, 2021. When harvested July 18-19, treated strips of wheat yielded an average 6.5 bu. more than untreated controls. “That was mainly due to higher test weight,” says Dardini. “Wheat was headed out when we sprayed.”

Apple then sowed a cover crop mix following wheat, and watched for growth response in the treated and untreated test strips. The two photos nearby — sunflower roots and tillage radish — signal presence of much more abundant mycorrhizal fungi and other beneficials in the MicroChop-sprayed soil.

“Those massive sunflower roots really blew me away,” Apple says. “I’ve worked with cover crops and biological applications on my farm near Bowling Green, Ohio, for years — trying to build soil health. With earlier residue digesters, I could never get consistent stalk decomposition. Now with high initial populations and delivering fresh living organisms in MicroChop, we’re getting there.”

Apple tells us, “Andy Dardini tested viability of competing crop digesters with petri-dish cultures. Some of them were mostly dead. I suspect the industry standard is around 20% survival at application.”

He also takes a farmer’s view of pricing: “Practically every input supplier is raising their price just because corn and bean prices are up a bit. Vatché and Andy and I want to leave a healthier bottom line for farmers like me.”

Apple will soon have additional data on other on-farm tests, such as soybean yields following last spring’s application of MicroChop.

Keuftedjian adds that the surfactant and harmonizing qualities of Pursanova water used in microbe culture can enhance deeper microbe activity in the soil profile. That follows naturally from deeper and more prolific root penetration, which we’ve seen many times with our own root-biology experiments. If oxygen, carbon and water are available, deep soil temperatures could allow fungal and bacterial digestion of crop roots more weeks into the winter as topsoil freezes. “That microbe growth could continue, even a meter deep,” says Keuftedjian. “This would help populations of these beneficials carry forward and multiply year after year.”

Tillage radish grew to almost pop-can diameter following a
wheat crop in soil sprayed with MicroChop last spring.

As always, healthy microbial populations are a challenge in soils where glyphosate and other chelating herbicides are regularly used. Glyphosate is a patented and powerful bactericide. It’s translocated to roots of weeds and crops. A robust cover-crop program can greatly enhance beneficial bacteria and fungi — some of which can metabolize glyphosate as an energy source and break it down. Thus, high populations of microbial inoculations are important.

One of the most research-intense microbial product firms we know, Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST) recognizes that water quality can harm or help survival of their endophytes, BioEnsure fungi and BioTango bacteria. Research director Regina Redman has refined a water treatment product to buffer these variations in on-farm well water and urban chlorinated water used in applying their endophytes. Our greenhouse tests on AST products last winter, using Pursanova water, showed spectacular rooting improvement and drought tolerance.

We’ll follow up with farmers applying MicroChop this fall and next spring. Meanwhile we’ll continue to recommend that farmers consider installing a Pursanova water treatment system for farm and home. Its dividends: Human and livestock health, plus more efficient performance of foliar nutrients and chemicals. 

Today, crop consultant Larry Eekhoff of Agronomy Rx, Webster City, IA, sent me the photo below revealing clear-cut stubble-digesting impact. 

Oh, yes, a little Renewable Farming commercial: WakeUP and Pursonava water are complementary partners for in-furrow and foliar applications. Andy Dardini tells us he’s interested in some field experiments with this combination. He has used WakeUP in other applications a few years ago.

And a postscript: Olympia beer brewing was “paused” earlier this year, after the firm changed ownership multiple times. Successive owners discontinued brewing with the original pure artesian water at Tumwater, Washington, and the beverage lost its essence. Food and Wine website reported in January: “A major part of Olympia’s decline has been the dilution of its original vision. Decades ago, the beer’s slogan used to be ‘It’s the water,’ but the Tumwater brewery has been closed since 2003.”

I expect that Vatché Keuftedjian, Andy Dardini and Scott Apple will always keep their original vision — using Pursanova water for a soil-healthy microbial ‘brew!’

Here are links to additional information on MicroChop and Pursanova. You can also search our site, using Pursanova as your search word, for many related articles on Pursanova water treatment systems.

PDF download of the product brochure on MicroChop and MicroFuel

PDF of MicroChop product label placed on 275-gal. totes

Link to previous article on our website describing physics of Pursanova water treatment system

Link to our 2018 analysis on fertility value of stalk nutrient recapture

This trial by one of consultant Larry Eekhoff’s clients shows
rapid response in bean stubble sprayed with MicroChop.