Renewable Farming

Organic growers tap microbes to capture nitrogen

May 13, 2022 Organic farmers working with AgriEnergy Solutions of Princeton, IL, have told us for years they often grow 200-bu. corn without “conventional” nitrogen such as anhydrous ammonia or 28% UAN.

They rely on rotation with legumes, cover crops — and a microbe-rich soil biosphere to make nitrogen available from germination though kernel fill. They’re also using nitrogen-fixing organisms which extract N from the atmosphere. Soybean growers have long relied on N-fixing rhizobium to store 20 or 30 units of nitrogen for the following year’s corn crop.

AgriEnergy agronomist Ken Musselman told us of this nitrogen program suggested for a client:

  1. An application of Utrisha, a product from Corteva, to build about 30 units of nitrogen from a biologically active soil. Cost: about $18.75 per acre or 63 cents per unit.
  2. Two gallons per acre of N-Force, an AgriEnergy Solutions 8-0-0 product, about $25 per acre.
  3. Foliar apply two or three gallons of AgriEnergy’s MVP, a biological product which includes nitrogen fixing organisms. This is an enhanced version of AgriEnergy’s long-proven SP-1, recommended by many certified crop consultants.

AgriEnergy also offers Chilean Nitrate for organic growers, but that’s more expensive per unit of nitrogen.