Brian Knapp, QLF Agronomy Regional Sales Agronomist Southern Iowa, Missouri & Eastern Kansas
Donald Ellersick, QLF Agronomy Regional Sales Agronomist Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Maintaining the benefits of having residue in the fields while mitigating its negative effects is a growing topic of discussion. With advancements in plant genetics enhancing stalk and stem quality, crops now stand more upright, resembling trees. However, this creates challenges in breaking down the residue left behind. The management of crop residue is a universal concern across regions and crop types. There is one question that remains consistent:
How can I do a better job of breaking this “stuff” down?
Traditionally, mechanical destruction through various means has been the primary approach. However, in today’s context of rising equipment costs, repairs, fuel expenses, and labor, coupled with a commitment to land stewardship and erosion reduction, there’s a more efficient way to address residue decomposition. This “better way” involves fostering consistent biological activity throughout the year, with the only interruption occurring during frozen soil conditions. In 2015, research was conducted at the Arise Research facility, specifically studying corn stalk residue decomposition. The data concluded that incorporating L-CBF BOOST with UAN in the spring burn-down pass resulted in an 11% reduction in residual material compared to using UAN alone or a control. Furthermore, the data indicated a substantial increase in available NPK in the soil, facilitating plant nutrient uptake.
An operator in the Bootheel region of Missouri, conducted his own on-farm trials. His treatments included a biological digester and a second treatment involving the application of two gallons of L-CBF BOOST in conjunction with the biological digester during the fall. In Spring, he reported that the “tree trunk stumps” shattered more easily compared to the application of the biological digester on its own or the control. Consequently, this biological digestion method appears to have a “softening” effect on the residue, improving planting conditions. For maximum benefit in fall applications, it’s advisable to complete the application shortly after the harvest when the weather remains warm enough to facilitate increased biological activity.
But what about during the growing season?
Maintaining elevated season-long biological activity for optimal residue decomposition and nutrient mineralization is a straightforward process. QLF has designed its Liquid-Carbon Based Fertilizer Programs around a molasses base that nurtures soil biology. Nitrogen applications using UAN with a 10% inclusion of L-CBF BOOST enhance biological function. Similarly, L-CBF 7-21-3 MKP, when used as an in-furrow starter, contributes to this biological enhancement. Additionally, using L-CBF BOOST or L-CBF Amino15 in foliar applications with herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides serves as a biological invigorator, promoting healthier plants, thereby enabling them to produce more plant sugars and potential root exudates. Whether L-CBF products help stay on target foliar or touches the soil there is more energy to prime the soil biology with every application. There are few elements in crop production that offer such benefits when their original intended use is followed.
Incorporate L-CBF programs into multiple passes that align with your operation to maximize your return on investment and enjoy the added advantages of improved biological function for residue management throughout the growing season.
Visit with your Regional Agronomy Sales Manager to design the most suitable program for your operation.