Season-long nutrition is the main point which Illinois ag consultant Brad Forkner emphasized when we phoned him about the robust corn roots he dug yesterday. This stalk came from a client’s farm near Hamilton, Michigan. Already at growth stage V3, it has punched down long roots loaded with a network of branch roots — after only 270 growing degree units. It usually takes corn at least 350 GDUs to reach V3.
June 11, 2019 By Jerry Carlson — These roots show rapid response to a rich array of in-furrow biological boosters and NPK row support. Brad encourages in-furrow application for live biological organisms and natural nutrient enhancers like fulvic, humic and SeaCrop which inoculate the first roots. NPK goes on the side, knifed in at planting or Y-dropped later.
Here’s the per-acre “recipe” his client applied with the planter:
4 gal. 6-24-6
1/2 gal. Boost (the farmer’s choice, not Brad’s)
1/2 gal. Nachurs Triple option 7-14-21-5 (the farmer’s choice, not Brad’s)
6.4 oz. Integrate supplied by Brad
12.8 oz. Launch (Includes biological organisms and supporting ingredients)
32 oz. zinc chelated with EDTA (Brad will recommend replacing this next season with 2 oz. 36% monosulfate diluted in a quart of water, as the EDTA chelator inhibits zinc availability)
8 oz. of 24% liquid humic pre-diluted in 8 oz. of water
0.5 oz. concentrated fulvic
2 oz. dry soluble sea kelp pre-dissolved
Seeder Heater (a blend of essential oils supplied by Brad for seed treatment)
Brad’s 39-year career in agriculture began in livestock nutrition products. He realized that healthy feed demanded nutrient-dense crops grown on living soils. So he expanded his services and products to nutrition, with emphasis on beneficial microbial life which amplifies uptake of soil fertility. There’s a lot more information at one of his websites, nutritionmanagementspecialists.com
You can also see more of Brad’s background at Practical Ag Solutions, another website of his firm which focuses on the livestock side. (Brad’s career experience was similar to that of Dr. Dan Skow, co-founder of International Ag Labs in Minnesota.)
Not many corn growers are willing to expend the management effort to fine-tune a complex array of crop-supporting ingredients like the list shown above. This Michigan farmer clearly sees the value in doing so. Even if you usually don’t do in-furrow or 2×2 with the planter, you can use streaming nozzles, Y-drops or other means of applying nutrients during the season. With December corn futures nudging $4.50 on USDA’s largest-ever cut in corn yield estimates (to 166 bu. per acre), coaxing more performance from your crop could pay well.
Brad has spent almost 40 years refining what products add yields economically. We asked, “If a grower has an extremely tight budget, what would you recommend applying with the planting? NPK or helpers like fulvic acid, kelp and beneficial microbes?”
He said: “Always, priority goes to the natural aids which accelerate biological life as early as possible. Fulvic acid first, and go from there.” If budgets are extremely tight, Brad recommends redirecting dollars from NPK starters to biologicals which energize natural microbials, which have 10 times the power to mobilize soil minerals compared to the root exudates alone.
Renewable Farming can’t evaluate each of the items in the list above. We’ve had only 10 years in the crop biological business, researching how WakeUP enhances the performance of NPK, trace minerals, biostimulants and live microbials. But our experience meshes almost perfectly with Brad’s observations in 17 states.
We’re publishing this brief field report to encourage you and other growers to keep your crop happy and growing rapidly throughout the season. For many farmers, late planting and saturated soils have imposed a two-month handicap. We’ve reported many times that keeping a high level of nutrition spoon-fed to crops through the season via foliar spraying and streaming near the row can avoid the typical for die-down we see in late August. This season, keeping corn green and healthy all through August and September could add 40 bu. to your yield. Brad’s website has the contact information needed to get in touch with him.
Update June 12: Yesterday when I checked with Brad on accuracy of the story above, I asked him for some broader generalizations on his typical consulting advice to growers. Here’s what he e-mailed this morning. (I didn’t ask Brad for his final paragraph, but we’re pleased to include it.)
Additional general agronomic recommendations, written by Brad Forkner:
“I use the concept of multiple modes of known nutrition movers to get nutrition inside of root and leaf structures. Renewable Farming’s WakeUP provides an excellent avenue in this system.