Renewable Farming

Phil Pitzenberger showing field to Ukrainian delegation

Ukrainian farm managers eager to learn more about non-GMO soybeans

Last week we learned that one of our friends, Paul Syltie, was arranging a Midwest tour of Ukrainian farm managers interested in learning more about biologically sound technology for soybeans — so we offered to help.

When the group of three managers flew out from Chicago to visit Iowa last Monday, we took them to visit the Pitzenberger farm near Greene, Iowa.  Phil Pitzenberger, his brother Ian and parents Ted and Judy hosted the group Monday afternoon, showing them how they grow soybeans in ways which enhance biological life in the soil.

Phil says, “Soil health is very important to us and we have already seen positive changes in the short time we have embarked on this endeavor. I would highly recommend everything we are doing as far as soil health for any crop production method.”

The Pitzenbergers raise both GMO and non-GMO soybeans and corn.

Phil Pitzenberger showing field to Ukrainian delegation
Phil Pitzenberger, left, explains his family’s non-GMO soybean production techniques to Ukrainian visitors
WakeUP is part of the Pitzenbergers’ strategy for intensifying response to foliar nutrients. The Pitzenbergers are also enthusiasts for in-furrow biological products and row support fertility. Their fields are soil-sampled on a GPS grid and all broadcast fertilizer is metered accordingly.

Phil, Ian and Ted are among our top-performing clients on applying WakeUP Spring on corn at the critical V2 stage. It’s a discipline to hit that window, but they do so because they’ve seen how it helps multiply root and mycorrhizal mass.  Phil told the Ukrainian delegation, “You can see the difference in roots, right to the row where we did and didn’t apply the WakeUP.”

Ukraine does not allow growing of transgenic crops, and politicians are still holding out against mounting pressure from the biotech firms to break that barrier. However, Ukraine exports extensively to the EU and Russia, where GMO contamination would be quickly rejected. So farmers are generally careful to avoid losing such markets. 

One of the biological products the Ukrainians are importing from the U.S. is Vitazyme, a plant growth stimulant used on seed, in-furrow and by foliar application. We’re testing Vitazyme this season on soybeans, to see if WakeUP enhances its performance. This is in cooperation with Paul Syltie, who conducts studies and marketing strategies for Vitazyme’s manufacturer, Vital Earth Resources.

Next season we plan to apply Vitazyme as a seed treatment on corn, and also include it with in-furrow mycorrhizal biologicals mixed with WakeUP. Then, with the extra biostimulant of Vitazyme working underground, we’ll spray the corn at V2 with Wakeup Spring to pump extra photosynthetic sugars and other nutrients to the roots. What we’re going for is a synergistic effect, amplying the natural performance of plant roots and soil mycorrhizal life. 

Leader of the Ukrainian managers is Ms. Mykola Zagorodniy, on the right in the photo below. She took an abundance of photos and notes on her iPad. The managers asked highly technical and knowledgeable questions about soybean physiology. If Ukraine gets fired up on non-GMO soybean production, they’ll be an aggressive supplier to the European Union.

The group also visited the ACRES research farm, one of our neighbors with whom we frequently share field research efforts.

These three Ukrainian managers are responsible for 1.5 million acres