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Solving nematode challenges

If our soils and crops have challenges with nematodes, it is because we have managed them in a way that is conducive to developing nematode populations. Soils with balanced and healthy microbial populations can completely shut down pathogenic nematodes and prevent them from becoming a problem. 

The long term solution is to rebuild soil levels of microbial active carbon (not total organic matter). Rebuilding microbially active carbon can occur quickly if we manage soils to achieve that objective. 

A short term solution can be to apply high application rates of humic substances, high application rates of molybdenum, and high application rates of ocean minerals. This application can shift the soil microbial population, and enhance the species that antagonize pathogenic nematodes.  It is not possible to describe what a high application rate is in a one size fits all recommendation. It all depends on your context. Rates can vary significantly based on the existing soil environment.

2020-04-23T19:49:29-05:00April 24th, 2020|Tags: , , , |

Molybdenum to suppress viral expression in plants

Molybdenum, like other heavy metals, deactivates viruses by denaturing their protein coat, and in this, molybdenum appears to be a particularly effective metal/metalloid.

This hardly needs translation. Provide adequate or generous molybdenum to reverse viral infections in plants. To know what is adequate molybdenum in your context you really need a sap analysis to identify what plants are absorbing. Soil tests are useful for molybdenum, but in some cases, molybdenum can show up very low in the soil, yet be at high levels in the plant. The mysteries of biology at work.

This is another case where nutrition management solves problems where are there are no synthetic chemical solutions.

1. Datnoff, L. E., Elmer, W. H., Huber, D. M. & Others. Mineral nutrition and plant disease. (American Phytopathological Society (APS Press), 2007).

2. Verma, H. N. & Verma, G. S. Inhibition of local lesion production by some chemical compounds. Indian Phytopathol 20, 176–178 (1967).

2020-10-06T09:53:38-05:00March 19th, 2020|Tags: , |

Increasing Nitrogen use efficiency

Not all forms of nitrogen are created equal. A pound of nitrogen in one form will produce a completely different crop response than a pound of nitrogen in a different form. This is why organic growers often describe requiring only a fraction of the N requirement to produce a bushel of a given crop when compared with mainstream N applications.

The ultimate ideal is for plants to absorb amino acids and proteins directly from the soil microbial population and in the form of microbial metabolites. These forms of nitrogen contribute a lot of energy to plants, much more than. That represented by the N they contain. 

The second most efficient form of N for most crops to absorb is urea, or amine nitrogen. 

The third most efficient form of N for crops to absorb is ammonium.

The least efficient form of N for crops to absorb is nitrate. Plants must use a significant amount of their photosynthetic energy to convert nitrate to amino acids and proteins. When a corn crop absorbs 80% of it’s N requirement, it requires 16% of it’s total photosynthetic energy just for nitrate conversion (Marschner) A plant also requires three times more water to convert nitrate to amino acids as compared to ammonium. These are just the beginning items on a long list of reasons why you want plants to absorb only minimal amounts of nitrate, and obtain the majority of their nitrogen from other forms, preferably directly from the microbial population.

Ultimately the goal is to develop soil microbial populations that can deliver 100% of a crops nitrogen requirement every year. This is a very realistic and achievable goal. Only if you stop killing them with synthetic N applications in the first place, of course.

While on the pathway to reducing N applications, the first step is to make certain that any applied N is rapidly consumed by the soil bacterial population, and converted to microbial proteins and amino acids. These microbial forms of N are not leachable and are available to plants even when there is less water in the soil profile.

To convert applied N, either liquid 32-0-0, liquid 28-0-0, or liquid urea 21-0-0 (the most efficient of the liquid N sources) we simply need to provide the food sources and stimulants for biology to rapidly consume the applied nitrogen. 

Here is a recipe we use on a lot of acres, very effectively:

1. 3% of the total solution (either weight/weight or volume/volume) should be humic acid. We use HumaCarb.

2. Add ATS, ammonium thiosulfate 12-0-0-26S to produce a 10:1 nitrogen to sulfur ratio in the final solution.

3. Add a carbohydrate source, we use Rejuvenate at 3% of the total solution

4. Add molybdenum, needed for the nitrate reductase enzyme. We use Rebound Molybdenum at a pint or a quart per acre.

It isn’t realistic to make universal recommendations, given the wide variability in soils, crops, and management practices, but we commonly observe that growers reduce nitrogen application rates by 30%-40% or more in the first year and produce the same or higher yields as compared with controls when using this combination. Use sap analysis to diagnose precisely whether the crop has adequate N, we don’t live in a world where we have to guess and be uneasy. Many times, we use this approach, and growers are amazed that their crops constantly show they have abundant, even surplus nitrogen. This is a start down the path to producing all your own N in the soil profile. We walk around in 78% N, the only reason we buy any is because we have destroyed the capacity of our soils to produce it’s own. 

The same solution can be used for dry N applications if you can get it applied to the dry product. 

Nitrogen management is a big topic, look for more thoughts on this in the future. 

2020-03-16T14:02:07-05:00February 8th, 2020|Tags: , , , |
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