Renewable Farming

Where our WakeUP clients are investing in their 2018 corn and soybean crops

We’re working closely with longterm WakeUP users as they refine their 2018 crop budget spreadsheets. The main opportunity they’re pursuing: Shift dollars from “traits” and NPK into biologicals, biostimulants and a rebuilding of soil health. Work with nature, instead of attacking it with toxic technology. A good example is our report near this one, where no-tiller Scott Odle explains why non-GMO seed, no-till and cover crops are making his 4,000-acre farm more profitable through this valley of low corn and soybean prices.

Feb. 17, 2018 — Here are soil-friendly products and techniques we’re seeing which our customers are considering for 2018. Some, like WakeUP Spring and Summer, are long-proven. A few products are new and promising.

Canadian field trials by professional field researcher retained by Lignition

1. Treat corn and soybean seed with LigniSeed, a biostimulant developed by independent entrepreneur Dave Sutherland, who has more than 30 years in agronomic products of all kinds. We’d call this a “beta” version of the well-tested Lignition we’ve been watching in our own fields for three years. LigniSeed looks very promising. It’s a refinement from Sutherland’s original Lignition product, now branded LigniLeaf. There’s good background information on the new Lignition website at this link. Dave Sutherland says: “Results from LigniSeed usually run 10 bu. per acre or more for corn and 3 to 5 bu. per acre for soybeans.” Over a decade, Dave has invested over $1 million to enhance formulations of this biostimulant technology. Lignition products are built by extracting metabolic stimulants from crop lignin. For years we’ve known that humates, which are derived from plant mass, contain growth enhancers. LigniSeed and LigniLeaf are totally soluble extracts of fresh plant lignin, using a process first discovered in Russia and now highly refined by Sutherland’s team. Growth signals of these products increase efficiency of photosynthesis, converting more sunshine into biomass.

(There are also excellent seed treatments available, many of which use microbial methods rather than biostimulants like LigniSeed. One example is AgriEnergy’s Myco Seed Treat. Another is Myco Gold, recommended by one of our WakeUP distributors. We’re checking into that too. We also like to see mycorrhizal and bacterial treatments applied in-furrow, where we can easily apply the synergy of WakeUP Spring.)

2. Accelerate recapture of nutrients locked in crop residue with proven microbial cultures. That means applying beneficial mycorrhiza and other lignin-digesting microbes. Two broadcast spray opportunities: 

— Immediately behind the combine in fall and

— as soon as soils stay thawed in spring.

Rapid recapture of nutrients in stalks, roots and cover crops is especially valuable if there’s a mat of dead cover crops on the surface. Corn-on-corn growers also benefit from fall residue digestion, by making cornstalks crumble easily at planting — instead of requiring a tough row-clearing system or having them hairpin under your planter coulters. You unleash the power of biology, instead of watching surface residue simply oxidize and escape as carbon dioxide. 

3. Apply in-furrow blends of biologicals, biostimulants and nutrients. These should be translocated rapidly and efficiently into germinating crops with WakeUP Spring. We’ve seen synergism with this tank-mixed trio:

a. Blends of mycorrhizal fungi which colonize emerging roots to extend the root system’s ability to dissolve soil nutrients and extract moisture. AgriEnergy’s SP-1 has proven its ability to do this. We’re encouraged with early data on Environoc 401 from Biodyne Midwest. 

b. A seed biostimulant with enzymes, vitamins, brassinosteroids and other growth triggers. Vitazyme from Vital Earth Resources has a longer track record for this than any other biostimulant we’re aware of. One of the newest, which we’ve tested a couple of years with significant promise, is Symbiosis AGx. Developer Dan Pavich just sent us a summary of corn and soybean yield results with Symbiosis Agx.  It’s in the nearby table of data.

c. WakeUP Spring at three ounces per acre. WakeUP amplifies the mobility and multiplies yield response of tank-mixed biologicals and biostimulants. You can also add NPK or trace nutrients which you’ve known and trusted as proven on your soils, but we’re seeing growers focus in-furrow dollars first on biology, to build rapid root growth and mycorrhiza.

We encourage in-furrow applications even while realizing that farmers don’t want to slow down the planter. However, in-furrow applications require only two to five gallons per acre. Refilling with an in-furrow blend every 100 acres or so takes just minutes. 

4. Spray WakeUP Spring on corn at the two-leaf stage. It amplifies the flow of sugars and other nutrients from leaves to roots and growing points by reducing the stickiness (surface tension) of plant sap. The crop uses less energy for internal nutrient transfer. For years, we had a tough time convincing farmer to make this spray trip. Now, many corn growers are spraying early postmerge herbicides when corn is in the V1 to V3 growth stage. You can piggyback Spring with that trip. WakeUP Spring mobilizes extra nutrient flow into roots, so roots exude more nutrients to feed the “bloom” of mycorrhiza and beneficial bacteria in the soil. That applies to natural microbe populations, plus those you’ve inoculated with your in-furrow application. The brix (sugar content) of corn roots can double after a foliar spray with 5 oz. per acre of WakeUP Spring at V2. Root sugar translocation can stay elevated for several days after a Spring application. That powers up biological life in the root zone.

5. Side-dress corn as indicated by crop response, spring soil tests and weather. Our clients who’ve used y-drops generally say it’s worth getting nutrients on both sides of the corn row; after all the crop grows out its roots both ways. Again, that’s placing costly nutrients where rapid vegetative growth can reach it fast.

6. Foliar feed growing crops based on close scouting, tissue tests and sap tests. Blindly shotgunning with $15 an acre in foliar NPK and micronutrient blends has, in our test experience in hundreds of trials, shown an economic response one time out of four. Not good odds with today’s corn/soybean prices. Almost all the corn contest winners foliar feed several times through the season, but they formulate their mixes after discerning what the crop needs at the time. Tank-mixing 5 oz. of WakeUP Summer with your foliar nutrients will generally bump a 5-bu. corn yield response from the nutrient by another 4 bushels.  An extra four bushels doesn’t quite double your yield benefit from the foliar feeding, but pays well for 5 ounces of WakeUP Summer costing $3.52 per acre.

Yes, extra trips over the field after planting interfere terribly with post-planting symposiums with your compatriots at the coffee shop. But with today’s tight margins, money must be rationed where it earns the highest odds of at least a $3 payback per $1 of outlay. All this takes management, but it’s management that pays best. If you still do your spraying with a phone call to the co-op, run a spreadsheet on what a well-used, maybe $15,000 old Hagie highboy could do for you on postmerge applications. 

Here’s the per-acre summary on costs of products we’ve named above:

— WakeUP Spring: 3 ounces in-furrow, $2 for regular prepay sale price of $85 per acre. (Only $1.88 per acre if you order and pay by Feb. 28, 2018).

— WakeUP Spring: 5 ounces foliar on corn at V2, $3.32 (Only $3.12 per acre if you order and pay by Feb. 28, 2018). If you’re spraying just WakeUP Spring, you can spray a band over the corn row and cut product cost in half.

— WakeUP Summer: 5 ounces foliar, $3.32 (Only $3.12 per acre if you order and pay by Feb. 28, 2018).

— Vitazyme biostimulant: $5.99 for 13-oz. per acre rate, in-furrow or foliar.

— Symbiosis AGx biostimulant: $8 for 2 pints in-furrow.

— LigniSeed biostimulant: $5.50 per acre for seed treatment on any crop. 

— Environoc 401: $8.56 for 16 oz. in-furrow. (Broadcast spraying 16 oz. of Environoc 501 is also $8.56 per acre)

— SP-1 from AgriEnergy: $3.30 for 2 quarts in-furrow, $6.60 for 4 quarts.

Product cost per acre for an in-furrow blend of SP-1, WakeUP Spring and Vitazyme: $11.40 per acre.

Product cost per acre using WakeUP Spring, Environoc 401 and LigniSeed, $16.17 per acre.

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