Newsletter for leading crop producers
Capturing carbon from crop residue — Here’s the “rest of the story” No-till isn’t the only way! A system of tillage, plus inoculating with residue-digesting organisms like our Residuce, can steadily increase soil humus and productivity
ou've heard the conventional wisdom that no-till is the only way to build soil organic matter. However, we and other researchers see new evidence that certain kinds of tillage can accelerate carbon capture in root residues and above-ground stalks and leaves. Converting crop residue to humus helps you profit from a “second harvest.” When your residue decomposes to the point you can't recognize what crop it came from, that's a harvest of raw organic matter. Then when microbes convert that carbon energy into cell walls, protoplasm, and their by-products, these water-stable cells become humus. Water-stable humus is what you're after. This is when natural, biological fertility springs into life on your farm and increases the productive value of your farm. Taking the “second harvest:” Here’s how more humus boosts soil productivity and erosion resistance: 1. Increases tilth — the “coffee grounds” structure of water-stable aggregates. The only way you get this stable granular structure is with soil organisms. 2. Increases water and air holding capacity. Bioactive carbon holds four times its weight in water. (Some current literature suggests carbon holds 20 times its weight in water!) In turn, this stabilizes crop growth through dry spells and keeps soil organisms actively converting nutrients for crop use. 3. Enhances capillary action, so moisture moves more quickly from the subsoil to the root zone. 4. Allows roots to grow and explore much more easily. Therefore the plant uses less energy. Here’s how beneficial soil organisms improve your productivity throughout the season:
1. Convert nitrogen from the air to plant-available forms of nitrogen. 2. Help roots extract nutrients By Dean Craine, from the soil. 3. Produce vitaGeneral Manager, mins, antibiotics, AgriEnergy Resources and organic acids which increase soil fertility. 4. Prey on plant pathogens. 5. Produce carbon dioxide to feed the crop canopy. About 40% of the carbon in a soybean crop on healthy soil comes from respiration of soil organisms. 6. And some organisms utilize carbon dioxide (sequester carbon) and give off oxygen. Three concepts that help you build soil humus: 1. Keep crops growing as long as possible through the season. Think: Harvest sunlight! Include a cover crop in your system. 2. Capture carbon and other nutrients in all residue with active biological recycling before they oxidize or leach away. 3. Adapt your tillage system to your soil types, rotation and topography. Half of the sugar created by photosynthesis is allocated to roots. In turn, the roots exude half of this sugar to feed soil organisms. This sets up a beneficial cycle: The plant takes in more nutrients, produces more sugar, and exudes more energy for microbial life which in turn converts more soil nutrients to plant-available forms. Properly balanced, foliar applied nutrients set this in
motion. For years we have observed “tilthier” soil under healthy crops. The power of the plant's ability to feed the soil’s biological life should not be underestimated. A healthy underground cycle during the growing season triggers another favorable annual cycle: More carbon is stored in larger roots and larger leaves and stems. More root, leaf, and stem material means more carbon to decompose, which means more humus if managed properly. More humus means sequestered nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, carbon, calcium, and other nutrients. This is Renewable Farming!
residue-digesting organisms. Particularly in high residue crops (wheat, corn, etc.), how much more carbon might have been sequestered with Residuce and tillage?
A recent field study of carbon capture on 17 farms by scientists at the School of Environment and Natural Resources found that: “No-till farming does not store more total carbon than tilled soil.” The multi-farm study, which included several soil types and tillage systems, found that no-tilled fields had more carbon in the surface layer — the top four inches — in only 5 out of 11 soil types. Below four inches, tilled soil had equal or greater carbon levels. Total soil carbon in the soil profile down to 25 inches was higher with tillage. And in some soil types, the total carbon pool was 30% higher under tillage systems than under no-till. Keep in mind that these 17 farms were not our clients and as far as we know, didn’t apply active biological measures to accelerate carbon capture, such as inoculation with
Researchers offered several reasons why those results emerged in their data: 1. Crop roots penetrated more deeply in soils loosened by deeper tillage, such as chisel plowing or ripping. Roberto Blanco, a research scientist with the School of Environment and Natural resources, observed that under no-till, “Plant roots tend to be confined to the surface. In tillage systems, roots have the ability to grow to lower depths.” 2. Tillage mixes stalk and leaf residues into the soil profile, instead of allowing it to oxidize on the surface. Under no-till, virtually all of the carbon recapture is from decaying roots. Most above-ground “thatch” weathers away. The soil scientists were careful not to criticize no-till, observing that it offers erosion control benefits beyond sequestering carbon. But the study challenges the widely promoted belief that only no-till is always best for “sequestering carbon.” Some are critical of the AgriEnergy Resources approach, which emphasizes recapturing carbon in stalk and leaf residue by accelerating its biological decomposition into humus. Part of this process involves mixing raw residue with the top few inches of soil, which provides habitat for microbes which digest the carbon-containing cellulose and lignin in the stalks and leaves. In contrast, some soil scientists argue that encouraging respiration of bacteria “releases carbon dioxide.” It’s almost as if they would prefer to “preserve” raw residue! When we go on a farm which has followed our principles of residue management, we almost always find soils where the tilth has improved and total organic matter in the root zone is rising. The School of Environment and Natural resources tillage study emphasized that organic matter added deep
Stalks treated with Residuce in early October are heavily colonized with microbes which are aggressively digesting lignin and cellulose by October 23. Even if you can’t apply Residuce immediately after harvest, it’s beneficial to get it on sometime in the fall or early spring, so the organisms are ready to wake up and go to work.
An untreated control plot of cornstalks in the same field shows virtually no decomposition as of Oct. 23. Stalks left on top of the ground and untreated can weather an entire fall and winter without showing much visible change except for oxidation from sun, rain, freezing and wind. And if they’re plowed under — deeper than the aerobic zone — breakdown can be very slow under anaerobic conditions.
After several years of encouraging soil biological life, soil density gradually becomes more mellow, so roots can penetrate deeper. In general, the soil density measures we’ve made on our research farm show that roots can reach twice as deep into biologically active soils compared with soils with only conventional fertilizers. Data we have gathered with a recording penetrometer shows that at any given pressure (100 psig, 200 psig etc.) in our soil from 0 to 14 inches deep, our biologically active soils will allow twice the rooting depth.
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in the soil profile is more stable than organic matter near the surface. As we see it, there are other multiple benefits of doing this, such as deeper rooting, more nutrient storage capacity and more water-holding capacity. In summer 2008, we measured organic matter on several farms which have used our system for years. We compared these with adjoining conventionally-farmed fields with the same soil types. Our soil samples were segmented: the top three inches, 3 to 6 inches, and 6 to 12 inches. To make comparisons with our own research farm near Princeton, IL, we obtained permission to take samples from our neighbor’s farm to the south. Soils were tested by Midwest Laboratories. Soil on our side of the southern property line, compared with the neighboring conventionally managed soil, has: ✓ 23% more organic matter in the top 3 inches; ✓ 26% more organic matter in the 3 to 6 inch profile; ✓ 10% more organic matter in the 6 to 12 inch profile. These measures were made several years after the aerial photo at the top of the next page was taken, showing darker soils on our farm. We’d expect that a current photo would show even darker soils on our farm now. We consider this a success story, even though we do more tillage than we’re “supposed” to do, including cultivating up ridges when we lay by corn. We also checked against comparable soils in the farm adjoining our west boundary. These tests showed we have: ✓ 40% more organic matter in the top 3 inches; ✓ 49% more organic matter in the 3 to 6 inch profile; ✓ 10% more organic matter in the 6 to 12 inch profile. Our average organic matter across the research farm is 3.65%. We’re not too proud of that number. These are Muscatine Silt Loam prairie soils, where the original organic matter was 8% under prairie grass. This soil has the highest yield rating in Illinois. But a neighbor, who applies lots of fertilizer, has soils of only 2.6% organic matter. Our historic data on organic matter on this farm isn’t complete enough to plot a chart showing how much time it took to add a percentage point of organic matter. But our reckoning is that most of it has occurred in the past 7 to 10 years, as we refined our residue-digesting inoculants and systems of making them more effective. On average, our research farm has a full percentage point higher organic matter than our neighbors’ farms. That translates into the soil’s ability to store another 10,000 gal. of water per acre. It’s about a third of an inch of extra rainfall captured each time it rains. We usually run low on soil moisture three or four times between summer rains, and an extra third of an inch of stored moisture delays severe moisture stress 1 to 3 days each time. Through the growing season, that could give a crop a moisture reserve of an extra 4 to 12 days. The extra 1% organic matter also enhances our nutrient reserve by: ✓ 2,000 lbs. more nitrogen per acre,
Here’s a typical corn root dug from our research farm.We’ve enhanced soil biological life for over a decade. The root is big and fibrous, with clinging soil.
✓ 650 lbs. more phosphate, ✓ 115 lbs. more potash, and ✓ 700 lbs. of calcium. Humus in the soil is about 10% nitrogen. Back in 1938, USDA studied prairie soils like ours and calculated that the organic matter in the root zone contained 16,000 lbs. of nitrogen. That would have been soil with about 8% organic matter. Timber soils had about 4,000 lbs. of nitrogen. On our soils, we’ve found in many field trials over several years that we need only 0.37 lb. of added nitrogen to grow a bushel of corn following soybeans. At this rate, adding more nitrogen didn’t lift yields of corn. The University of Illinois recommends 0.95 lb. per bushel of intended yield. Following corn, we need only 0.6 lb. of added nitrogen to produce a bushel of corn. The University of Illinois for years has said it takes 1.2 lbs. following corn. Bottom line: We can raise a bushel of corn with dramatically less purchased nitrogen than conventional recommendations. We believe that’s possible because we’re adding new humus every year by recycling stalk, leaf and root residue. Some of that humus converts into immediately available crop nutrients. And some of the more stable humus components remain to build up total soil organic matter, long-term. Dr. Jerry Hatfield, who heads the National Soil Tilth Laboratory at Iowa State University, reports the same experience on research farms where they have active soil biology: They don’t need as much purchased nitrogen to raise high-yielding corn. He cites a farm where they’ve raised 308-bu. corn with only 80 lbs. of added nitrogen. This doesn’t mean you’re mining the soil. In fact, longterm humus levels can be increased even though you’re not adding much purchased nitrogen. Our data shows that we’re saving about 115 lbs. of purchased nitrogen to raise 200-bu. corn consistently. Some producers wonder if they have time to apply Residuce early in the fall, when they’re totally focused on Page 3 Fall 2009 AgriEnergy Resources
AER farm: Dark soils with biologically friendly fertility Adjoining farm to the south: Lighter soils under years of conventional fertility
corn and soybean harvest. An Ohio farmer solves that problem easily: He has his local co-op leave a big floater spray rig on his farm during harvest, because there’s no demand for it elsewhere at this time of year. Seasonal helpers, usually retired farmers, come out each day and apply Residuce and nutrients on freshly harvested stalk fields, then till the residue into the soil. That provides organisms more time to break down residue, compared with spring application of Residuce. This Ohio farmer’s soil organic matter has risen 30% since he started this system more than 10 years ago. That’s an additional 1,100 lbs. of nitrogen per acre, stored in stable humus. Compared to his former conventional system, he’s saving about $100 per acre on nitrogen and potassium at spring 2009 fertilizer prices. We’ve been asked, “How much faster can I build soil humus by regularly inoculating with Residuce, compared with simply using tillage to work residue into the soil early each season?” We don’t know the answer for all soils. On our research farm, the heavy black soil tends to lay wet in spring and warm up slowly. So we think it’s important to break down residue in the fall as quickly as possible. The wide array of organisms in Residuce includes bacteria, actinomycetes and fungi which are the main organisms which attack the lignin in the tough outer shell of a cornstalk. These organisms produce more organic acids than with simple weathering and oxidation of the stalk exposed to sun, wind and rain. These organic acids are important to humus buildup. On our own farm, we re-inoculate with Residuce each year. If we didn’t do that, our cumulative organic matter would probably be much closer to the neighbor’s soil, Page 4 Fall 2009 AgriEnergy Resources
because their rotation and tillage is much like ours. The best tillage technology depends on your soils and climate. For example, on a heavy clay soil, we found that tillage with a mini-moldboard plow led to a 25-bu. increase in corn yields compared with a chisel plow. That may have come from better potassium availability from deeper incorporation of residue. Some growers are very successful with the Aer-Way tillage tool on lighter soils. The Aer-Way spikes help move oxygen deeper into the soil, compared with no-till, without disturbing the surface much. Think about ways to grow more microorganisms. The greater your soil biological activity, the greater your soil productivity and natural fertility. In almost all cases, the limiting factor on soil biological activity is the amount of crop residue, manure or other raw organic matter available. We need to feed that biology. We are working with natural organisms, but we want to assure they’re out there in abundance. The most microbes per acre equal the greatest fertility. As growers, we should judge all of our practices (cropping, fertility inputs, tillage) on how we can obtain the highest microbial count in our soil. Proper residue management is the most important fertility-management function on your farm. On our research farm, we plan to have the residue decomposition cycle complete by mid-July. That’s when we find no intact raw stalk residue, and the nutrients in dead organisms are being released to fill soybean pods and corn ears. If you are in the South, the timing of these practices will be different. If you don’t use cover crops you may need to slow down the decomposition of your residue to provide longer cover and cooling. The principle remains: Manage your soils for the greatest variety and quantity of microbes.
We’re keeping a close eye on what “cap-and-trade” means to you If Congress eventually enacts a cap-and-trade climate bill, we want to make sure our farmer clients are eligible for any cash credits for sequestering carbon in the soil. We know that our system of building soil life does build soil carbon. But drafters of the bill apparently are listening to the argument that no-till is the primary technology for anchoring carbon dioxide in the soil. This concern is one reason our Summer 2009 Renewable Farming seminar featured a presentation from Jim Wiesemeyer (photo), senior vice president for policy and trade issues with Informa Economics. Jim has analyzed and reported the ag-related Washington scene for more than 30 years. Here are some of the points Wiesemeyer made in his presentation.
The climate-change bill passed by the House was an extremely close vote. It’ll be even harder to propel a similar bill through the Senate. Wiesemeyer calculates that 42 farm-related groups oppose the House climate bill; only the Farmers Union has endorsed it. Farm Bureau is opposed. Wiesemeyer says “Farm-state senators will be the tipping point” on a close Senate vote. One objection posed by farm groups is that congressional proponents offer no comprehensive analysis of costs and benefits to agriculture — just assertions that net benefits will outweigh higher energy and other input costs. Farmers doubt it. Although the Obama administration wants a completed bill before the next UN climate-change conference in Copenhagen this December, “It’s most likely that action will be delayed into 2010,” says Jim. If the climate bill passes, and soils are given their appropriate credit, then good stewards of the soil should have an opportunity. Either way, as Dean Craine stated in his feature on capturing carbon, the economic benefits of Renewable Farming far surpass any carbon credits or income that we might obtain from cap-and-trade.
How to “read” responses to biological life in your soil this season Agronomist Ken Musselman shot these photos on two farms close to each other with similar soil types in Shelby County, western Iowa a few days ago. They dramatize the difference soil biological buildup makes in crop performance. Both farmers no-tilled corn into soybean stubble. But the photo below is from a field which has never had our biological program. The photo at right is from a farm where the operator has applied SP-1 and other AgriEnergy fertility products since 1992. What signs of biological life are you seeing in your soils this fall?
No Residuce or biologicals: Shallow root
SP-1 and other biologicals since 1992: Deep root and well-aggregated soil
No-till and no biological program means that few roots penetrate the density layer. Ken observed a thatch of undigested corn residue on the surface from the corn crop two years ago. When he dug this root, he found the soil dense, coming up in big chunks. He found very few nightcrawlers or earthworms. This corn would have been highly stressed after a few days of dry weather. Little nutrient benefit is recycled from previous years’ crop residue.
Roots plunge deep into soil, which has a well-aggregated “coffee grounds” structure. Ken found the soil surface littered with nightcrawler castings. Soil aggregates like this sponge up rainfall and resist erosion. The surface and root residue from previous crops has mostly digested into nutrients and humus. This fall’s no-till corn residue will be mostly decomposed by early summer next year.
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In this greenhouse — Aphids and insect pressure
In this greenhouse — Perfect, insect-free tomatoes
Plant sap pH
Nutrition makes the difference in Plant health of these greenhouse tomatoes on Rob sap pH Schlabach’s family farm in Holmes County, Ohio. Tomatoes which began yielding ripe fruit for early premium markets last May were still healthy, growing and blooming in late August! Rob’s family, including four sons, raise organic heirloom and specialty tomatoes in five greenhouses. Insects and mold are a constant challenge. Their primary defense: Maintaining high brix levels (dissolved solids) and a plant sap pH of 6.2 to 6.6 with organically approved biologicals and fertilizers. Their AgriEnergy Resources consultant, John Daniel Schlabach (no relation to this Schlabach family), balances anionic and cationic nutrient sources to keep crops healthy. In the greenhouse at left, calcium and potassium levels began lagging. Sap pH dipped, and insect invasion quickly followed. You can easily see the difference in plant health. John Daniel says that rebuilding sap pH takes cationic nutrient sources like calcium, potassium and certain trace elements. It’s rare that sap pH exceeds 6.4, but in that case, anionic nutrients like nitrogen would restore balance and energy levels. Within the range of 6.2 to 6.4, plus a brix level in leaves of about 10, insect pressure usually isn’t a problem. In mid-August, the Schlabach family set a new record one-day harvest of tomatoes. One of their five greenhouses is heated, so they can market tomatoes starting in May. Brix levels on vigorous tomato leaves like this are often above 12 on a sunny day. That means excellent taste and keeping quality in ripe tomatoes, which are sold on fresh markets in the region.
“Buy Fresh, Buy Local” favors quality produce Field agronomist Ray Roettger reports from Indiana that there’s no “recession” in sales of fresh vegetables and fruit direct from farmers to homemakers. In fact, the trend toward buying fresh produce from farmers’ markets and “Community Supported” contract gardens is spurring a miniboom in tasty, highly nutritious veggies. He sees that across Indiana and other East Central states. “Exceptional taste, keeping quality and appearance keep buyers coming back for locally raised foods,” says Ray. Factory-farm produce raised with conventional NPK and chemicals just can’t match the biologically based taste and texture which local growers achieve. Here’s a typical AgriEnergy Resources plant-food program: 20 gal. of AgriBoost PK with boron and 4 gal. of SP-1 mixed with side-dressed 28% nitrogen. Depending on soil analysis, some liquid calcium is often added. Result: Fruit and vegetables with outstanding flavor and keeping qualities. Page 6 Fall 2009 AgriEnergy Resources
High-brix forage means better nutrition, less insect damage You’ve heard that insect damage is typically much lower on crops with brix levels of 12 or higher. That was proven again this summer in certified organic alfalfa fields. Our representative, John Daniel Schlabach, reports that this year, an unusually heavy infestation of alfalfa weevils attacked his area of Ohio. “In alfalfa where our program lifted alfalfa brix readings into the 12 to 16 brix range, there wasn’t much weevil feeding,” he says. “We found weevils in the fields, but there was little activity or damage. “They did most of their feeding early in the day, before leaf sugars started climbing. “Interestingly, the few weevils present looked wellfed, and they went through their normal growth stages and emerged as adults. They just didn’t eat much. “But on untreated, lower brix fields on neighboring farms, most alfalfa leaves were stripped by weevils.” (Brix is often thought of as percent sugar, but it represents all dissolved solids in the plant sap.)
How to squeeze the most meaning from ‘brix’ tests in your fields
easuring ‘brix’ levels — total dissolved solids — in the plant juice squeezed from your crops is an easy and effective way to estimate the quality and taste of what you’re raising. It can help you evaluate crop response to treatments such as fertility levels or foliar sprays. Generally, if your management can lift brix levels close to 12 in leaf and stem sap on a sunny day, you probably won’t have many pest or disease hassles. A brix reading on an electronic instrument or simple refractometer is often read as “percent sugar.” It really means the percentage by weight of sucrose, fructose, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, hormones, and other solids dissolved in the plant juice. The term ‘brix’ is named in honor of a 19th-century German chemist, Prof. A. F. W. Brix, who invented a technique for measuring dissolved solids in grape juice with a hygrometer. This was a highly profitable breakthrough in winemaking. Other scientists later developed the refractometer, which is a simple and effective way to measure dissolved solids on the farm. A refractometer can also give you clues about the qualities in your “squeezings” if you study the technique. Basics of measuring brix with a refractometer: 1. If you’re comparing leaf and petiole readings over time, take samples under similar conditions. Late afternoon on a sunny day offers the most useful tests. This is when leaves are making sugars. 2. For a composite soybean sample, select six or seven petioles, each from a plant 10 to 20 feet apart. Pick trifoliate leaves slightly below the top; not the newest leaves. Trim off half or more of the leaves so your sample is about half leaves, half stems. In midsummer, leaves alone are often too dry to yield enough juice. 3. Compress your stack of leaves and stems slightly with the squeezing tool (made from locking pliers and stainless nesting plates), and trim off random ends with a knife for a “bleeding edge,” so juice flows easily. Wait several seconds for juice to accumulate on the lower lip of the squeezer, then dribble it onto the open glass plate of the refractometer.
Make sure the entire reading area of the plate is wet, and there are no bubbles or dry spots when the transparent cover is flipped down. Let the cover plate rest with its own weight, don’t squeeze it tight. The photo at right shows good sample coverage. Too much juice is better than not enough. Face the refractometer plate toward a good light source; the sun is best. Look through the refractometer barrel and rotate the focus lens so the scale numbers and lines are sharp. Record the brix reading at the midpoint of the transition from white to blue. The lower “white” may be slightly colored, depending on the type of juice you’re testing. A more diffused transition indicates a wider array of dissolved solids. A sharp horizon line, such as the one in the reading below, indicates mostly sugars (This is measuring brix of a ripe grape). 4. Record your readings immediately, along with the time, temperature and sunlight condition. Make your other crop-scouting notes at the same time. If you have a plant juice pH meter, this is also a good time to take those readings and record them. If the brix readings are good and the plant juice shows a pH of 6.4, you probably won’t be seeing many insects, fungal infections or nutritional deficiencies in your crop. Don’t be too concerned if brix readings of petiole sap between two experimental trials aren’t much different. The real test is in the brix readings of immature kernels, beans and fruit. General table of brix values Crop Poor Average Good Excellent Alfalfa (leaves + petioles) 4 8 16 22 Wheat, oats, barley, rye (leaves) 6 10 14 18 Soybean (50% petioles, 50% leaves) 5 6 10 12 Soybean (seeds in milk stage) 5 8 10 12 Corn stalk (white pithy section) 4 8 10 12 Corn (rib section and leaf at the ear) 4 6 9 12 Corn (kernels before denting) 5 8 10 12 Sweet corn (kernels) 6 10 18 24 Green beans (young bean pods) 6 8 10 12 Carrots (juice/sap from near carrot tip) 4 6 12 18 Tomato (juice from fruit) 4 6 8 12 Watermelon (juice from fruit) 8 12 14 16 Grapes (juice from fruit) 8 12 16 20 Cantaloupe (juice from fruit) 8 12 14 16 Lettuce (leaves and rib sections) 4 6 8 12 Raspberry (juice from berries) 6 8 12 14 For more about brix readings, visit these sites: http://crossroads.ws/brixbook/BBook.htm http://www.westonaprice.org/farming/nutrient-dense.html
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Cool, dry seasons ahead place a premium on “living” soils Over the past several growing seasons, we’ve found Larry Acker’s “big picture” weather and market predictions to be extremely accurate; at least here in the Midwest. That’s why we invited Larry, of 3F Forecasts in Polo, IL, to our Sept. 15 Renewable Farming Seminar. Here’s a snapshot of what Larry sees ahead: “July was the coolest July on record since 1883,” he said. “July averaged 1.5 degrees cooler than the previous record in 1915.”
He pointed to an unusually persistent cycle low in sunspots — geomagnetic storms on the sun’s surface — linked with global air circulation. A lingering low over Hudson Bay and a high over the Azores in the Atlantic has been steering cool air southward over the North American continent and northern China. These high-altitude airstreams, which climatologists call the circumpolar vortex, can persist over years. Acker called the current low in solar activity a recurrence of the “Dalton Minimum,” an extended cycle named after meteorologist John Dalton, who found a relationship between a period of low solar activity from about 1790 to 1830 and lower-than-average global temperatures in that era. The infamous “Year Without a Summer” in 1816 occurred during this Dalton Minimum. The Dalton Minimum and another more extended solar “Maunder Minimum” are historically linked with decades of global cooling. The Dalton Cycle typically reoccurs about every 245 years. He noted that: “The last time we had a sunspot minimum this long was in the years around 1913. That was one of the coolest times in modern weather history. Before that, you have to go back to the 1600s for a similar episode.” Acker told our seminar participants: “From 1995
through 2008, we had a benign, warm growing period. The glory days of good growing seasons are over for several decades. I’ve been talking cooling for years.” This fall, his seasonal forecast points to dry, cold and windy harvest weather, with the third week in November as “your last good chance to harvest.” After that, snow is likely with some severe winter storms possible in December. The 2010 season for most of the Corn Belt shapes up like this in Acker’s calculations: The low over the Hudson Bay will continue. The trend from Jan. 19, 2010 through June 7, 2010 will be cool and wetter than normal, with potential floods like those which hit the Dakotas. Planting delays likely. Then June 2010 will turn dry and warmer than normal all the way through the first week of September. The next several years won’t bring much relief, with severe drought likely in 2014, says Acker. Since economic upheavals historically occur in coolclimate cycles, Acker projected further global financial crises ahead. However, even with “very tough times coming,” farmland with the capability of producing consistent crops despite stressful weather will prove one of the most secure financial bases in America, Acker told our seminar audience. Cooler weather with lower rainfall means it’s even more important for farmers to build soil humus and biological life, which help maintain production under moisture shortages.
Payoff for Residuce this fall looks especially high Weather-delayed harvests across much of the Corn Belt this fall put a premium on applying Residuce and supporting nutrients as soon as possible after crops are out. Abundant soil moisture will trigger decomposition and lead to a mellower seedbed next spring; one that warms up fast because residue has begun to darken and crumble. Larry Endress of Buda, IL, figures the NPK value of recycled corn residue is about $95 per acre. Also, improved tilth and better balanced biological life adds even more benefit. Residuce comes in three types, with these recommended application rates per acre: Residuce Plus — 2 gallons of Residuce Plus Liquid and 1/10 pound of Residuce Plus Powder per acre. Added protein or nitrogen may be beneficial. Requires tank agitation. Residuce L — 2 gallons per acre. Additional protein or nitrogen may be beneficial. Residuce DF (dry flowable) — 3 pounds per acre. May be applied dry or mixed with water. Should not be used in certified organic production. Page 8 Fall 2009 AgriEnergy Resources
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