Renewable Farming

WakeUP can help you “infiltrate” surface-applied nutrients and biologicals

This simple demonstration shows how NPK, trace elements and biological products surface-applied as liquids after planting can migrate quickly and uniformly to the root zone with WakeUP in the solution. It can help “make up” for missed in-furrow applications abandoned in the rush to get crops planted this spring.

May 5, 2018  By Jerry Carlson — Just a year ago today, the Ohio No-Till Council posted on YouTube a “2017 Soil Health Field Day” video which included NRCS soil scientist Ray Archuleta. Ray showed some dramatic, but simple, table-top demonstrations on the physics of interactions between water and soil. It’s worth watching; visit this link. Ray gets into the demonstration about 10 minutes into his talk.

Our little experiment with dry, loamy soil in a two-inch diameter tube illustrates water’s movement through soil with, and without WakeUP Spring. In the nearby photo, two ounces of water with, and without, WakeUP were poured into the top of the soil column. The left tube received WakeUP water, the right tube untreated water. This photo was taken a minute after pouring in the water. 

Left-hand tube: By one minute after water was applied on the surface, the water with lower surface tension (containing WakeUP) had permeated the top three to four inches evenly.

Right-hand tube: Ordinary well water poured into the top finds and follows channels between soil particles, responding to gravity rather than spreading evenly through the soil profile.

The photo here provides a little insight into the interaction of water with, and without, WakeUP in solution. Our point: If you’re surface-applying a stream or a spray of liquid fertilizer, trace elements, or a biological product, WakeUP Spring can help accelerate uniform penetration into the root zone.

 WakeUP Spring could help you make streamed-on nitrogen more efficient, or bring the benefits of biologicals to emerging roots more quickly. About ten years ago, Southeastern farmers using the predecessor product of today’s WakeUP used it to improve performance of their side-dressed 28% nitrogen.

But there’s a “rest of the story.” The lower ends of these tubes show a darker zone of saturated soil. The saturated soil in the left tube is not quite as high as that in the right-hand tube. The lower profile of saturated soil reflects capillary action which has been working 24 hours after pouring water into the clear cups under the tubes. 

Note that in the clear plastic cup on the left, the water is milky. This is an expression of the colloidal micelles in water. The green caps on the bottoms of the tubes are drilled with five holes each, so water can move in freely.

We learned years ago that any surfactant which dramatically reduces the surface tension of water reduces water’s upward capillary action. This applies to “wicking” up through fibers, as we’ve shown in previous demonstrations. Surfactant products used to reduce irrigation water needs on turf use this principle. By spraying over the grass, rainwater percolating downward has a lower surface tension. That in turn means the xylem tubes of grass stems are a little constrained in lifting soil moisture to the blades of grass, where moisture is lost. 

This is a reason why we always use WakeUP Spring for in-furrow or any soil-applied purpose. It’s a more “mellow” and enduring surfactant, compared with WakeUP Summer

Both WakeUP formulations are composed of tiny colloids which, blended with water, create colloidal micelles: Tiny clusters of water molecules with a negative charge on their periphery. It’s a different physics than the hundreds of ordinary surfactants, many of which contain phosphates — like detergents.

Incidentally, our demonstration tubes of soil survived another “living with livestock” incident. The tubes were set up on our concrete deck. When I was lying down on a soft quilt to take photos, our grandson’s 40-pound pup — sopping wet from a swim in the pond — came up behind and leaped on top of me with smothering affection. I managed to guard the tubes from destruction.Then I went into the house to study the photos. Daisy, true to being a Golden Retriever, protested my abandoning her by dragging my quilt 300 yards away to her own front porch. It’s now being washed for returning to Grandpa.