Dennis’s In-the-Field INSIGHT–Why should you consider residue breakdown?

Why Should You Consider Residue Breakdown?

I’ve been walking fields in the last several weeks and here are some of my observations from Minnesota and Iowa.

The residue digestion portion of ProfitProAG’s “Recipe for Success” is working well. I’m seeing corn stalk residue that is turning black on the outside. The pith on the inside is literally disintegrating. In fields with no-till soybeans planted into corn stalks the stalks were breaking down nicely.

I also saw evidence of biological activity under the old corn roots. There were many earthworms. The soil was aggregated and crumbled nicely. I also noticed many earthworm middens in the fields that were treated with the Crop Residue Digestion Program. Middens are areas in the soil where the earthworm forms a mound of residue so he can bring that residue down into his burrow during the night to feed on. Middens are good signs of earthworms and healthy biological activity. When you add cereal rye or other cover crops to the equation, we see up to 38% more middens according to the Iowa Learning Farms data.

Here are four more reasons to consider using the residue breakdown portion of the “Recipe for Success.”

  1. Nutrient recovery. Roughly four tons of corn residue per acre are left behind by a 180 bu/A corn crop. That material contains 80 lbs N, 30 lbs P2O5, 190 lbs K2O, 16 lbs S, 35 lbs Ca and 25 lbs Mg. These nutrients are free if we can breakdown the residue biologically and release them to next year’s crop. High amounts of potash are found in the leftover corn residue. With the trend of increasing fertilizer prices, if we can release 190 lbs of potash for next year’s crop, we can save that money and put it towards a cover crop and the Crop Residue Digestion Program.
  2. Fewer pests and less disease. Corn residue is one of the best places for disease pathogens and insects to overwinter. By digesting the residue, the pests will have a difficult time surviving the winter without the protection of the residue.
  3. Less hair-pinning. Over the years, I’ve noticed corn residue that hasn’t been broken down can get in the planter furrow. This can interfere with seed to soil contact and can be detrimental to seed germination and emergence. When the residue is digested, it flows better through the planter and reduces hair pinning of the trash.
  4. More organic matter. The Crop Residue Digestion Program helps build organic matter. Residue needs to be digested by fungi, bacteria and earthworms in order for it to be turned into organic matter. ProfitProAG’s program predigests the residue allowing the microbes and earthworms to finish the job of creating organic matter.

These are just a few of the many good reasons to put our Crop Residue Digestion Program to work on your farm. Try it and see for yourself the positive difference it can make!

Corn stalk residue breakdown

Earthworm Middens

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“I can’t believe you have a hog barn here”

“I can’t believe you have a hog barn here!”

Why Iowa Farmer Richard Rosener Switched to Manure Master™ Plus

Richard Rosner
Vail, Iowa farmer

If you’ve ever driven north of Vail in western Iowa, it seems like there’s a surprise just over every hill. In a landscape untouched by the last glacier that scraped across parts of Iowa thousands of years ago, those hills almost hide Richard Rosener’s farm from a distance.

As you get closer to the Rosener farm, however, you notice the well-kept buildings, neatly mowed grass and modern hog barns. But there’s one thing you won’t notice—hog manure odor. That’s no accident, says Richard, who raises corn and has custom fed hogs since 1983. “My barns are just down the hill from our house, so odor control is a big deal.”

The challenge
Richard is the kind of guy who pays attention to detail, from the right amount of rock around his barns for rodent control to odor management at his hog complex, which he built in 1998. The site includes two barns with a total of 1,200 hogs. He pumps out his swine manure pit twice a year and applies the manure to his fields.

“It bothers me to no end when I smell strong odors from a hog farm,” Richard says. “I want to be able to walk into my barn without smelling overpowering odor. I also don’t want it to stink when I apply manure to the fields.”

While Richard tried a variety of additives through the years to control manure odor, with varying results, there was room for improvement. “The manure always smelled for a few days or a week after I applied it,” Richard said. “I don’t want people to drive down the road and say, ‘That place smells terrible.’”

The solution
When Richard attended the Farm News annual farm show a few years ago in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he listened to a manure management/odor control seminar by Dr. Jim Ladlie, president of ProftProAG in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Ladlie’s focus on harnessing the power of microbes to reduce swine manure odor resonated with him.

“For the last 19 years I’ve done tests with Iowa State University on how micronutrients impact soil fertility and crop yields,” Richard says. “Since 1978, I’ve also been interested in the role of microbes in agriculture. Microbes are so important.”

Jim talked about Manure Master Plus, a biological manure additive made up of an array of microorganisms that control odor, reduce crusting and solids and ward off flies and other insect pests.

“Jim is sharp, and his information makes you think,” said Richard, who decided to try Manure Master Plus next time he pumped manure from his pits.

The results
Richard started using Manure Master Plus in 2019. “It’s simple to use,” notes Richard, who pours the product into the manure scraper system in his barns.

Since he started using Manure Master Plus, Richard hasn’t had a buildup of solids in his pits. “When you pump out the manure, it pumps right down to the concrete,” he adds. “It’s a lot different than those farmers who say their pit only holds half of what it used to, because of all the solids building up.”

Odor has been a non-issue, as well. “After using Manure Master in my hog barn pit, there was no odor present when I emptied it last spring and this fall,” Richard says. “For 22 years, I used another product for odor and solids, but this product is far superior.”

What pleases him most? When people visit his farm and say, “I can’t believe you have a hog farm here.”

ProfitProAG recommends using 40 gallons of Manure Master Plus per 1 million gallons of manure annually. When starting treatment, use 15 gallons per 1 million gallons of manure. This first treatment should occur two to three weeks after spring or fall pump-out, when the pit/lagoon is at its lowest capacity and fresh manure has accumulated. Following that, use 2.5 gallons of Manure Master Plus per 1 million gallons of manure each month for 10 months.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what this product can do for soil fertility and the other things Jim promises,” Richard adds.
With his inquisitive mind and focus on continuous improvement, Richard is always interested in practical solutions that benefit his farm. “Just having a tractor doesn’t make you a farmer. You’re only a farmer if you keep on learning and improving every year.”

Seed Treatments Make a Difference

ProfitProAG’s seed coatings contain a blend of microbes, including multiple strains of mycorrhizal fungi, trichoderma, pseudomonas, Azotobacter, Bacillus, Penicilium and streptomyces. In addition, a blend of minerals and nutrients feed the microbes and a biostimulant activates them. The seed coatings are available in liquid and dry and can be applied on-farm. The seed coating produces a more robust root system, larger stalk and an overall healthier plant.

Below is a brief synopsis and function of each microbe strain in ProfitCoat seed coatings.

Mycorrhizal fungi form on the root system of most plants. While most agronomic crops can support mycorrhizae, there are exceptions such as horseradish, which will not support a relationship. The fungi will form small hyphae (like tiny fingers) that are smaller than root hairs, but can extend further than root hairs to obtain moisture and nutrients, especially phosphorus for the plant. The Mycorrhizae also provide beneficial enzymes and proteins to the plant. The plant, in turn, provides the mycorrhizae with carbohydrates and sugars that the fungi use for energy. Mycorrhizal fungi is the main way that trees survive in a forest. While the fungi scavenge for nutrients and water, the tree supplies the mycorrhizae with carbon from sugar for energy. It contributes to the production of a larger and healthier root system.

Trichoderma fungi work as an antagonist, meaning that they infect and attack predator pathogens that are harmful to the plant. In China, they use Trichoderma to control damping off and seedling blight in rice, and they discovered it was just as effective as a regular fungicide without harming the soil biology. In addition, they found that the survival rate of the rice was 80 percent higher than the area treated with a fungicide. Trichoderma will colonize the root and protect it from pathogens. It works similar to Mycorrhizae in that it finds nutrients and moisture and supplies the plant with enzymes and proteins while the plant supplies the Trichoderma with carbon from sugar. It contributes to producing a larger and healthier root system.

Pseudomonas (according to David Weller of the USDA and Washington State University who wrote a paper on Psuedomonas in agriculture and why they work so well as a biocontrol agent of soilborne pathogens)

  • 1) They are well adapted and can handle many different environments and stresses including tight soils without air.
  • 2) They grow rapidly, proliferate and utilize seed and root exudates (aka carbon in the form of sugar).
  • 3) They colonize and multiply in the rhizosphere and the interior of the plant.
  • 4) They produce bioactive metabolites including antibiotics and growth promoting chemicals.
  • 5) They compete aggressively with other pathogens and protect the plant from infection.

In summation, they are similar to Trichoderma in that they attack and prevent infection of pathogens. However, they are a bacteria vs. Trichoderma, which are fungi.

Azotobacter are free-living, nitrogen- fixing bacteria in the soil. Azotobacter harvest nitrogen from the atmosphere (nitrogen fixation) and fix it into plant-usable ammonium ions. The plant and the Azotobacter work symbiotically together. The plant supplies the Azotobacter with sugars and ATP (adenosine triphosphate or the energy that the plant produces) while the Azotobacter supplies the plant with N. Without ATP, nitrogen fixation cannot take place. Azotobacter have several enzymes that allow it to fix nitrogen, but the main one is nitrogenase. The main nitrogenase enzyme is molybdenum-iron nitrogenase, which demonstrates the importance of molybdenum for nitrogen efficiency due to its presence in the moly-iron nitrogenase enzyme. Similar to Pseudomonas, Azotobacter can tolerate extreme conditions as well as low oxygen conditions.

Bacillus bacteria species is also included in the seed coating. Bacillus is used as a biocontrol agent and can be purchased by itself, for that purpose, in gardening magazines. They produce antibiotics that compete with pathogens by either killing or inhibiting their growth. They colonize the root, compete with other pathogens and even prevent them from attaching to the root system. It is interdependent with the plant and feeds off the plant’s exudates and deprives the pathogens of a food source. It will also trigger SAR (systemic acquired resistance), which activates the plant’s defense mechanism to kick in and help fend off the pathogen.

Penicillium species are fungi that give off enzymes and organic acids to solubilize tied up soil phosphorus. Many times phosphorus is tied up and bound to calcium and magnesium in high pH soils and by iron and aluminum in low pH soils. It has a mutually beneficial relationship with the plant and provides it with the phosphorus so that it doesn’t tie back up again. This is very important because once it’s solubilized, it needs to be absorbed immediately or it will bind to Ca and Mg. Penicillium species also increase plant and root growth by providing phosphorus to the plant. Studies have shown an increase in grain yield by up to seven percent.

Streptomyces species is bacteria that promotes growth and acts as a biocontrol of pathogens. Like the other microbes in the coating, it takes up residence in the plant’s rhizosphere and works symbiotically in supplying the plant with protection and promoting growth while the plant supplies it with sugars as its food source. Streptomyces species are a form of actinomyces and produce the earthy smell of soil.

What else does the seed coating have?

Other nutrients are also needed to supply the microbes to fully function and thrive. The seed coating also includes a biological solubilizer and stimulant. The solubilizer breaks down the nutrients into a soluble form so that the microbes can use them and the stimulant activates the microbes and boosts them up!

Biological Seed treatment options 

Profitcoat seed coatings contain a blend of microbes, including multiple strains of mycorrhizal fungi, trichoderma, pseudomonas, Azotobacter, Bacillus, Penicilium and streptomyces. In addition, a blend of minerals and nutrients feed the microbes and a biostimulant activates them. The seed coatings are available in liquid and dry and can be applied on-farm. The seed coating produces a more robust root system, larger stalk and an overall healthier plant.

Profitcoat PB This is a three-fungicide mix and insecticide that sets a new standard for water mold control. Both options deliver superior protection against well-known seed-borne and soil-borne diseases. 

ProfitcoatPB + OSI  A three-fungicide mix for soybeans, this product includes a polymer and color in a ready-to-use formulation.  

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