Renewable Farming

Three “bio” products you can use to help crops endure through dry-weather stretches

Why doesn’t it ever rain on our farm? Here in northeast Iowa, we’ve watched storm images on radar all spring, and usually the rain systems veer off to the south and east. Or sometimes north. We hear the same anxieties from farmers asking, “Is there anything I can do to help my corn and beans hold on — until we get some decent rain?”

All spring, we’ve encouraged seed-applying or foliar-applying BioEnsure and BioTango from Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies. The species of fungi and bacteria in those products are “endophytes.” They live and multiply between crop cells and enable your corn and beans to cope with drought, while enhancing nutrient use efficiency.

We don’t claim to be professional crop advisors. Our focus is on our own product, WakeUP, which makes most other crop yield enhancers perform more effectively by mobilizing them into and through plant metabolism.

But we do stay in close touch with several professional crop consultants, such as Bob Streit of Boone, Iowa (Central Iowa Agronomics) and Larry Eekhoff (Agronomy Rx) of Webster City. They both prescribe the two Biodyne USA products below, for crop stress endurance.

Also, we consult Bob Wagner, Midwest rep for BioDyne USA (515-370-0222). Today Bob said he has overseen application of Biodyne stress relief products on more than 180,000 acres the past three weeks. These farmers took action when they anticipated that June could fail to bring normal rains to most of Iowa. 

Renewable Farming LLC has been a distributor for Biodyne USA products for several years. Their foliar nutrients are good tank-mix partners with WakeUP. We can provide three dry-weather stress relievers:

1. BioEnsure/BioTango for foliar application. See our previous reports on these endophytes. Incidentally, Bob Wagner told us today that the “biggies” — Bayer and Corteva — are investing substantially in endophyte microbes and related research. Clearly they sense an opportunity.

2. Biodyne’s Respite Rx, foliar-applied at 4 oz. per acre, ($2.40 per acre). The label carries an analysis of 0-0-20, and it also includes ethylene inhibitors which can reduce in-field corn crop temperatures as much as 9 degrees, reducing water loss. Bob Wagner tells us that corn treated with Respite Rx, before the intense temps of this week, is visually different with less leaf rolling, indicating less moisture loss in leaf cells. The product specs claim that the plant growth regulator content of Respite Rx  “increases plant turgidity” which means more cellular water. In turn, this means chlorophyll can keep building nutrients.

Link to product page for Biodyne USA Respite Rx

3. Biodyne’s SG Advance carries an NPK label of 3-4-7, but the secret sauce is an added blend of manganese, copper, zinc, boron, iron and molybdenum. Plus beneficial microbes, amino acids and sugars. Bob Wagner advises us that SG Advance also contains some Respite RX, but not the full recommended rate per acre. Foliar-spray SG Advance at 3 pints per acre ($9 per acre). 

Link to product page for Biodyne USA SG Advance

From years of our field experience with June-August foliar spraying, we recommend prepping your spray materials in the afternoon and evening, then spraying at dawn’s early light. Fortunately, overnight temps are likely to be somewhere in the 70s, with fairly calm winds. Stop spraying at 80 degrees, when crops are slower to absorb and metabolize spray materials. This is consistent with foliar application research by the University of Nebraska’s Dr. Roch Gaussoin. 

For in-depth information on foliar feeding, here’s a link to a slide presentation  on foliar feeding by University of Nebraska’s Dr. Roch Gaussoin, based on years of his research. A relevant point in that PowerPoint presentation: Foliar feeding can be especially effective when plants are stressed by dry soils, when roots are unable to extract nutrients from soil at a normal rate. 

The windows of opportunity for spraying crops under stress could occur right after a decent rain, when corn leaves unroll and bean leaves regain turgidity and normal function. We’d expect little benefit from spraying gray, tightly rolled corn. Another caution when foliar-applying BioEnsure and BioTango: Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST) recommends against tank-mixing their microbes with glyphosate. For one thing, glyphosate is a patented bactericide. It also chelates (ties up) some micronutrients in plants’ metabolic systems. Both of these actions reduce the effectiveness of AST’s endophytes.

Contact us for further information, or to obtain any of these products. Bob Streit, Larry Eekhoff and Bob Wagner are also knowledgeable on these concepts. 

Photo below shows a field July 7, 2020 in North Central Iowa. Endrows noted with yellow dotted line were not sprayed with BioEnsure.