Renewable Farming

“With priority on planting, did any tasks get left out?”

We’re quoting that question from Iowa crop consultant Bob Streit, posted to his clients and friends today as part of his weekly advisory service. Here’s the rest of that section, lifted out of his longer column and slightly edited by us.

May 3, 2018  By Bob Streit —  “With the break in the weather, the agenda was to get the corn planted as quickly as possible. How many growers skipped an in-furrow application of a mineral of biological product they had planned on using for a few acres or most of their acres?

“What can be done now if you think that one item could help you achieve yields that you desire?

“After you get your beans planted, you may have the time and machinery to apply it another way. Find out if foliar applications or a Y-drop application of the targeted product has been successfully applied by others.

“Foliar applications can work, but certain surfactants like WakeUP Summer help decrease surface tension so penetration thru the cuticle is more complete.

Bob Streit

“If the missed product is a biological, there is a good chance that a Y-Drop application could work. As the brace roots begin to form, those roots and root tips are covered in a gelatinous film called mucigel. This gel is high in sugars and serves the purpose of promoting microbial activity in the area of high cell division. The microbes get free food, and in return release the organic acids that solubilized minerals the dividing cells need.

“Also, check to see if the recommendations on your product’s label include adjusting pH of your mix to below internal leaf pH. With fertilizers that typically applies. One of the latest recommendations, coming from a Korean researcher, includes making sure the EC, or electrical conductivity in your applied solution, as measured by an EC meter, is higher than the leaf and soil EC. Higher electrical potential flows to a region with lower potential.”   

As always with Bob Streit, those recommendations are reliable advice. (Especially that reminder to include WakeUP. Ask Bob or us or another distributor for WakeUP Summer for foliar application.) See more from Bob’s firm at this link.

We’ll take the liberty of adding these suggestions:

1. Use these rained-out days to acquire and add a microbial blend to your in-furrow mix for any remaining planting work, including soybeans. Check out our root “test tube” experiments with corn in the following reports on this site. Bottom line is that adding a beneficial bacterial / fungal package like Biodyne USA’s Environoc 401, or the proven reliable SP-1 from AgriEnergy Resources, accelerates root formation. After just over a month from planting in those tubes, the roots in a two-foot-long by two-inch diameter are so thick we couldn’t easily shake out the soil. It’s just a mat of taproots, branch roots and mycorrhizae. Leaving out the “biological” consistently resulted in smaller root structures.

One of our Indiana clients who has worked with microbial products for about three decades reminds us that the real generator of soil mycorrhizae is cover crops. In-furrow or seed applications of such organisms are only in the millions, while cover crops and live roots generate uncountable trillions. If there are no live roots, the beneficial fungi go dormant. Even so, jump-starting with in-furrow can have a dramatic effect on inoculating the root zone.  Some of our growers who’ve done in-furrow for years are paring back or dropping their NPK from the mix and using those dollars for a microbial, a biostimulant and WakeUP Spring. If you can spend only $10 an acre for in-furrow products, think about 8 ounces per acre of Environoc 401 ($4.28), 8 ounces of Vitazyme ($3.75) and 3 ounces of WakeUP Spring ($1.85). Full in-furrow rate of Vitazyme is 13 ounces, full rate of Environoc 401 is 16 ounces. You only need 3 ounces of WakeUP Spring in-furrow to mobilize the biostimulant, Vitazyme, and accelerate uptake of the nutrients which are made soluble by the mycorrhizae. 

2. Gear up now for in-furrow opportunities on soybean planting. From what we’ve heard from growers, in-furrow offers one of the highest-odds ways of multiplying your input investment returns.  

3. Bob Streit’s observation about using Y-drops or some other means of applying nutrients and “bios” close to the root zone is backed up by some data we published earlier this spring. University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Michael Orzolek found in 2017 that AgriEnergy’s SP-1 applied broadcast on the soil surface four days before planting showed statistically significant yield gains. We’d expect applying a “bio” mix including WakeUP close to the row after planting would also be beneficial. 

4. One of our near-genius clients devised a way to stream “over-the-furrow” biologicals and nutrients using a 120-foot sprayer boom that’s controlled by RTK guidance. Real Time Kinematic guidance can control two streams of liquids banded about three inches apart onto the surface, straddling the row of corn before or after the corn emerges. This allows the grower to keep his huge central-hopper planter rolling without needing to carry or refill liquid tanks on the planter. And it takes advantage of the speed and 1,200-gallon carrying capacity of the farm’s high-clearance sprayer. Most farmers try to hold down in-furrow application rates so they don’t have to carry much liquid. However, a big streaming rig can stream on 10 or 20 gallons per acre easily. It’s the best of both worlds: No planter delays, and more timing flexibility for applying the bios, NPK and other close-to-the-roots products. 

Including WakeUP Spring in a tank mix that’s streamed onto the soil close to the row should help the beneficial organisms and nutrients penetrate the two or three inches of soil into the root zone. Somewhere in our old research notebooks, we have data which shows that water containing one ounce of WakeUP in 200 ounces of water absorbs more quickly into soil than water without such a colloidal micelle surfactant. We tested that by weighing pans of dry soil every minute, after allowing the pans (with perforations in the bottom) to touch water below the pan. WakeUP-treated water “wicked up” more readily than ordinary well water. This was a bit baffling, because water with lower surface tension moves more slowly via capillary action upward through a plant’s xylem tubes. There’s a lot we don’t know about changing the physical properties of water. 

5. For years we’ve recommended spraying WakeUP Spring on corn and soybeans at the V2 stage. That’s the two-leaf stage for corn, about “pop can high” and when the second trifoliate is showing on soybeans. This accelerates sugar translocation from leaves to roots, stimulating those mycorrhizae by increasing root exudates. Some growers apply just a 15-inch wide band over the row — which has gotten easier to do with GPS sprayers.