Providing Optimum Plant Nutrition

Providing optimum plant nutrition has always been a discussion for producers who are looking to maximize crop production and profitability.  Many people have researched product application practices seeking high production and return on nutrients applied.  For years, the justification for applications has been based on Liebig’s law of the minimum.

In 1828, German botanist Carl Sprengel developed the “Law” or “Principle” of the minimum.  It became more well known when German Biochemist and Professor, Justus von Liebig, publicized and studied it more widely starting around 1940.  The “Law of the Minimum” in 1940, states that the rate of growth of a plant, the size to which it grows, and its overall health depends on the amount of the scarcest of its essential nutrients that is available to it.

Although this concept can and has provided some value to producers for many years, it is missing a key element – the condition of the barrel.  For years producers have chased the lowest stathe of the barrel with applied macro and micronutrients without addressing the condition of the soil that they apply nutrients to.

Improving the health and balance of your soil is not always a quick process but is the most important element to address before chasing the scarcest nutrient on a snapshot soil or tissue test.  Applications of harsh chemicals, fertilizers, and heavy tillage have created flaws in the barrel (soil) that we depend on for farm profitability.  Addressing the lowest stathe of the barrel doesn’t always work if we don’t first evaluate the condition of our soil.

Fortunately today we are going back to the basics with the increased use of cover crops,  No-Till/Reduced till practices, and addressing soil biology. It’s exciting to see how agriculture has changed over my 23-years of supporting professional producers in the Midwest.  As producers address the factors that are limiting the soil’s ability to hold optimum moisture, cycle nutrients, and provide a prolific root environment first, the soil can and will work for you.

For 40 years AgriGro has manufactured products that support producers in increasing profitability by mending the barrel (soil).  If you haven’t experienced the benefits of AgriGro products on your farm, I would encourage you to give them a try.

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Manage Soil Compaction and Watch Your Crops & Profits Grow

As we close out one growing season and prepare to get back in the fields for another, what strategies do you have in place to reduce soil compaction and its yield dragging impact? Considering that today’s tractors, combines, and field equipment are only getting bigger, it’s vital to understand the impact that soil compaction has on your soil, crop health, yields, and bottom line profits. With margins tight and maximizing profits essential, there has never been a better time to give this important issue serious consideration. 

Soil compaction is magnified through many of the routine field operations that are often performed under less than ideal conditions when soils are wet and more susceptible to compaction. The use of heavy equipment and tillage implements can cause lasting damage to the soil structure as the surface of compacted soil is much more likely to seal off – simply meaning air and water have a harder time moving down through the soil. As compaction builds, water accumulates on the surface and moves downhill creating a greater potential for soil erosion and water runoff,  carrying eroded topsoil, applied fertilizers, and pesticides along with it.  

Soil compaction causes multiple issues throughout the growing season from planting to harvesting.  For a seed, compaction causes greater stress on the seedling during germination and root expansion because it has to work much harder to develop and spread throughout the soil.  A critical aspect of the consequences of compaction is air and water do not have the ability to effectively travel throughout the soil resulting in more areas of standing water, poor drainage, and crop damage due to the seedlings and roots potentially suffocating.

Here’s a list of how compaction can impact your soil and crop production…

  • Causes soil pore spaces to become smaller and more compressed.
  • Reduces airflow in the soil, restricting healthy plant respiration.
  • Decreases the rate water can penetrate and percolate in the soil root zone and subsoil.
  • Increases the potential for surface water ponding, water runoff, surface soil waterlogging, and soil erosion.
  • Reduces the ability of any soil to hold water and air which are necessary for plant root growth and function.
  • Reduces valuable biological activity in the soil.  
  • Restricts crop emergence as a result of increased soil crusting and deteriorating soil conditions.
  • Significantly inhibits root growth, limiting root penetration, and the volume of soil explored by roots into the subsoil.
  • Compaction restricts root development and exploration, decreasing the ability of all crops to utilize nutrients and water efficiently from soil.
  • Compaction is a Yield Killer.

You will pay a price for soil compaction – all of these factors increase crop stress and lower yields resulting in loss of profits.

There is a simple way to cost-effectively reverse the effects of compaction… Respire® by AgriGro.

Respire® represents the next generation of technology in the fight against compaction and its yield-limiting impact. Respire® is an anionic, soil-amending surfactant that addresses a wide range of soil compaction problems common in today’s agriculture. Because the soil itself is chemically altered, results are longer lasting than those obtained via surface water surfactants. Benefits are visible after first watering or rainfall and will continue the entire growing season before additional applications are required.

Respire®  works to offset compaction by improving soil structure, drainage, and tilth to maximize yields and support overall soil and plant health. For conventional tillage or no-till applications, Respire® helps support a healthy growing environment so your crops can reach their genetic yield potential.

Good soil structure is the number one defense the soil has against compaction and it determines the ability of any soil to hold and conduct water, nutrients, and the air necessary for maximum root growth and plant development. Respire® is the perfect compliment to AgriGro’s line of prebiotic products like IgniteS2® and FoliarBlend® and can be used in combination to maximize the soil’s microbiome to reduce compaction and improve crop production.  When these products are used together they have a greater impact on soil health and crop production with Respire® affecting the physical and chemical properties of the soil while IgniteS2® and FoliarBlend® enhance the biological life of the soil to help naturally fight compaction and improve overall soil and plant health and crop yield.

For more information on Respire®, click on the link below and get started today. 

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When Should I Run A Soil Test?

In order to maximize crop production, testing the soil is key. But many wonder, how often should I run a soil test? Here is the information farmers need to know:

When should I run a soil test?

The short answer is now, if your most recent soil reports are more than two years old. If you have never sampled before then I would suggest setting up a plan to sample annually when you have time, and the fields are accessible. This can be any time of the year – spring, summer, fall, or winter. Once you have started sampling during a season you should continue with that schedule. The reason for this is to give you a more accurate comparison from year to year to see what changes have actually occurred from your management of nutrients.

If you pull samples in the fall one year, and pull samples in the spring the next year, it will appear that you have gained nutrients and could cause you to make a decision that would lower your yields. Spring soil readings generally will be higher than fall readings. So, it is preferable to stick with pulling samples at the same time as previous tests were taken for an accurate comparison.

Do I need to test for anything other than potassium, phosphorus and pH?

Absolutely, you should be getting a complete soil report that includes all micro and macronutrients including secondary nutrients such as sulfur, magnesium, sodium, and calcium. It is not possible to determine what may be needed to optimize yields from just two nutrients and a pH reading. At last count, there were more than 14 essential nutrients that have been identified for plants.  If you do not test for these nutrients you may never determine what is needed for top production.  

Where should I send my soil sample?

Send your samples to any commercial Ag lab that can provide a report that contains the calculated exchange capacity (CEC) of your soil, all five cations with the base saturation percentages calculated (potassium, calcium, magnesium, hydrogen, and sodium) and micronutrients extracted using a Mehlich 3 extraction process. There are many good labs across the country that can provide this protocol, including Waypoint, Midwest, Brookside, etc.

Pricing is normally $15.00 – $60.00 per sample.

What should I use to pull samples?

Obtain a stainless steel soil probe for this purpose and use it to pull 5 to 6 inch deep plugs from the sampled area.

Where should I pull samples and how many?

This can be a difficult question to answer depending on what you are trying to accomplish and the size of your budget. If you have soil reports from past years, sample the same areas for good comparisons.

If you are starting off and trying to determine why a certain area does not produce as well as others, pull four or five probes from the poor area for one sample and pull for 4 or 5 probes from the best-producing soil for a second sample.  When you receive your two reports you should be able to readily compare the differences and then feel confident in what your plan of action should be to improve the poor areas.

Why is testing essential?

Regularly testing your soil will ensure that your input dollars are being spent wisely. AgriGro® offers prebiotics, fertilizer treatments, and other crop inputs that can enhance your farming efforts while boosting the soil’s biodiversity. Locate an AgriGro® dealer or contact our team to learn more about the science behind our products..

The Importance of Microbial Communities in Agriculture

The elements of crop production can be dissected into three distinct yet overlapping sectors: (i) Chemical (crop protection and nutrition), (ii) Physical (mechanical activity), and (iii) Biological (seed and plant physiology; microbiology). 

Holistically addressing these components is crucial to ensure plant vigor and to maximize economic yield. However, production practices are often negligent and detrimental to one biological element – the plant/soil microbiome. 

Microbes (e.g., bacteria and fungi) are ubiquitous in nature – there are more microorganisms in one gram of soil than there are humans on Earth [1]. Many of these soil-colonizing microbes have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with their host plant, meaning both organisms benefit from the interaction.

In the context of agriculture, an abundant, diverse microbiome has been demonstrated to affect crop health in the following ways:

  • Enhanced nutrient mineralization and uptake
  • Resilience against biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) stress
  • Boosted plant immunity
  • Production of hormones and other signaling molecules (by both the plant and microbe)
  • More robust germination 
  • Stimulated plant growth 
  • Improved soil health

AgriGro® is a prebiotic technology leader for agricultural use, providing a line of products that boost the soil’s native biological activity up to 5,000% within 72 hours of application. As a result, plants treated with FoliarBlend®, IgniteS2®, and other prebiotic formulations reap the benefits of a healthy microbiome. They can allocate more energy to primary metabolic processes (e.g., photosynthesis and reproduction). This phenomenon is studied extensively from the molecular level to field-scale and consistently demonstrates healthier soils, higher-yielding crops, and enhanced plant-microbe symbiosis following treatment with AgriGro® technology. Research on specific crops or products can be found here.

According to a recent publication from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, many within the scientific community believe that the next Agricultural Revolution will entail microbiomes’ usage to improve plant growth and development [2]. At AgriGro®, we help initiate that revolution by employing cutting-edge scientific tools to boost crop yield in an all-natural, sustainable manner. Environmental stewardship in this fashion benefits not only the present-day grower but protects the livelihood of future generations.

To learn more about AgriGro®, click here.

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Residue Management for A Successful Spring


Arguably one of the most valuable inputs for the success of next year’s crop is what’s left in the field right after harvest. When crop residue is recycled correctly and decomposed, it will supply significant fertilizer value that can have an impact on nutrient needs in the coming spring. However, when residue is ignored, it can lead to some major setbacks for the following season, including nutrients becoming tied up, and an increase in insect and disease pressure that can ultimately lead to stunted plant development, and lower yields.

Leftover crop residue is an ideal habitat for insects and potential diseases to hide throughout the winter and create problems at the first sign of spring. IgniteS2® works by stimulating an explosion of microbial life in the soil, which in turn, will significantly speed up the decomposition rate of the crop residue, leaving nowhere for insects and pathogens to hide during the colder months and allowing soils to warm up faster in the spring.

Along with improving the decomposition rate of this year’s crop stubble, IgniteS2® will break down insoluble nutrients and put them to work for next spring’s crop.  It will build humus levels, contribute to better water filtration, and has proven the ability to clean up any leftover chemical residues and their yield diminishing effects. Studies have shown that the equivalent of 80% of applied Nitrogen on corn typically remains immobilized in crop residues and will transpire into the atmosphere if not properly broken down. This is an untapped source of high-quality plant nutrition just waiting to be used! Can you afford to lose 80% of fertilizer that you have already paid for?

How to Manage Residue for Profit

  1. The first step that should be taken is to shatter or at least crimp the stalk with the combine. Shattering stalks and spreading them evenly with your combine helps jumpstart the biological process during mild early fall temperatures and will continue breaking down until the soil is frozen.
  2. Apply 16-32 oz/acre of IgniteS2® as soon as possible after harvest to speed stalk digestion. Soil organisms will first consume sugars and amino acids in the stalk, and then move to starches, proteins, and cellulose.
  3. Mix residue into the aerobic zone of the soil. If you have a no-till environment, make sure to shred residue and spread evenly over the soil with 16-32oz/acre of IgniteS2® Under no-till circumstances, fungi typically do more of the digestive work. One visible clue to active biological breakdown is the webs of actinomycetes colonizing the residue.

Benefits of IgniteS2® On Crop Residue:

  • Will significantly speed up the decomposition of crop residue
  • Supply tremendous fertilizer value for the following crop
  • Builds humus and organic matter
  • Will build the aerobic zone
  • Cleans up chemical residues and diminishes their negative effects
  • Reduces disease and insect pressure in the spring

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