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Cover Crops for Enhancing Soil Health and Crop Production

While there is still plenty of the growing season ahead of us, it is never too early to start thinking about maintaining the health of your soil in the offseason. This is especially true if you went the route of prevented planting versus late planting due to the flooded soil conditions that plagued much of the Midwest earlier in the season. Diverse, rich soil and cover crops are two important components to success and in today’s blog, we’ll take a closer look at each of them. Let’s get started. 

 

The Importance of Biodiverse, Rich Soil Life

As a primary function of agriculture operations, soil biodiversity is necessary for successful and sustainable growing seasons. This careful balance of natural ecosystems within the soil can have a large impact on yield and so it only makes sense that you’d want the best soil life possible. So how do you gauge the biodiversity of your soil? The following conditions could indicate something is off: 

  • Increased pest infestation
  • Increased weed pressure
  • Evidence of plant diseases
  • Slow seed germination
  • Plants with stunted growth
  • Changes in the soil structure itself
  • Crop residue buildup 

Tips for Achieving Biodiversity and Richness

 

Encouraging biodiversity might seem like a monumental undertaking, but there are a few things you can do to help ensure optimal soil health. Three of these include:

Rotate the Crops You Plant

If possible, avoid continuous crop production of the same plants year after year. Growing different crops prevents excessive nutrient depletion and reduces soil erosion while increasing soil health and crop yield. Additionally, alternating between deep-root and shallow-root crops can improve soil stability and prevent recurring pest infestations.

Use Prebiotics and High-Quality Crop Products

In the absence of sufficient food, soil microbes are unable to build up resources and reserves during the fall and winter for optimal soil health in the spring. Using prebiotics and fertilizer treatments like  IgniteS2® and IgniteS4® to feed microbes allows you to:

 1) increase soil porosity and expedite soil aggregation, and

 2) stimulate microbial activity in order to breakdown crop residues in preparation for the next seedbed. 

 

Plant Cover Crops

Cover crops are those plants that are grown with the specific intent of protecting and enriching the soil. This is especially recommended for those growers who were impacted by the unprecedented flooding in the Midwest in Spring 2019. When paired with high-quality prebiotics and fertilizer treatments, cover crops are a great way to sustainably and effectively revitalize nutrient-lacking soil.

Why Plant Cover Crops?

There are several benefits to planting cover crops. A few of them include: 

Reduced Instances of Fallow Syndrome

Letting your field be fallow in the offseason might be tempting, but it can prove problematic and result in Fallow Syndrome. This condition is caused by reduced amounts of certain fungi which can impact a plant’s ability to take up nutrients like phosphorus and zinc. In turn, this can cause stunted plant growth. Planting cover crops can help reduce the likelihood of future crops being affected by Fallow Syndrome.

Enhance Soil Health and Fertility

Cover crops help to improve the quality of your soil in many different ways. First, the physical and biological health of the soil is improved, as is water availability. Planting cover crops is also an excellent way to suppress weeds that would otherwise take over fields that are left fallow. Some cover crop roots can even break up compacted layers of soil, which makes it easier for the roots of subsequent crops to develop to their full potential.

Provide Nutrients for Subsequent Crops

In addition to enhancing soil health and fertility, cover crops also increase levels of organic matter in the soil. This is a sustainable means of providing nutrients for subsequent crops, further enhancing the quality of the soil by providing residues that are readily available to be used by soil organisms. Selecting the right type of cover crop based on subsequent crops needs is important to maximizing the benefits of this planting practice.

Prevent Soil Erosion

Soil is more prone to erosion when there are no crops planted in it. Land that is allowed to be fallow in between planting cycles or growing seasons is especially susceptible to washout. Not only does erosion change the layout of your land, but it also robs the soil of essential nutrients that plants need to thrive. Planting cover crops reduces the severity of erosion and can even enhance soil health when crop fertilizers include treatments and additives like IgniteS2® and IgniteS4®

Break Pest Cycles

Crop pests can cause incredible amounts of destruction and financial devastation to even the most established commercial agricultural operation. These infestations may be more likely to occur when the same crops are planted over and over again, as they supply an almost endless food source for the problem pest. Planting cover crops can help break the cycle of troublesome insects, birds, rodents, and other pests that plague your crop production.

Seasonal Cover Crop Tasks

What can you do each season to ensure your cover crop planting endeavor is a success? The checklist below offers helpful insights and tips.

Spring

  • Consider which crops will facilitate early seeding for your fall cover crop
  • Perform soil tests on pH level, organic matter, and biodiversity to serve as benchmarks for later comparisons
  • Determine how and when you will terminate your cover crop

Summer

  • Test water for nitrite levels and record findings for later comparison
  • Test soil for compaction and water filtration, recording your findings

Fall

  • Plant cover crops as soon as possible after harvest
  • Record crop yields during harvesting

Winter

  • Educate yourself on cover crops, soil health, and soil biology
  • Identify the worst erosion areas and set long-term goals
  • Fine-tune your cover crop plan
  • Line up seed, equipment, and other necessities for planting cover crops
  • Check into cost-sharing with the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Boost Soil Health and Crop Yields

Are you searching for ways to enhance soil health in the offseason after harvesting your cash crop? Maybe you have noticed a decrease in yield and suspect that soil health is to blame? AgriGro® offers prebiotics, fertilizer treatments, and other crop products that can help enhance your cover crop efforts while boosting the soil’s biodiversity. Locate an AgriGro® dealer or contact our team to learn more about the science behind our products.

 

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Mick Johnston Discusses the Importance of the Reproductive Stage of Growth

 

“Most crops are entering the reproductive stage of growth. Focusing on plant and root health is very important.”

Mick Johnston | AgriGro Rep – Boone, IA

Growers,

2019 is a challenging yet exciting year. Production difficulties driving higher commodity prices will provide real returns for added bushels this fall.  We don’t want to leave bushels on the table any year, and 2019 is no exception.

Most crops are entering the reproductive stage of growth. Focusing on plant and root health is very important.  Many producers are concerned with how excessive rains will impact nitrogen availability and how diseases may attack stalk and leaf quality.

We still have some key opportunities to drive grain quality, yield, and soil health to finish the 2019 season strong.

1.  Nitrogen Management:  Taking a soil and tissue test is one of the best ways to understand where you stand on nitrogen availability for your growing crop.  With high clearance sprayers and Y-Drop technologies, you can feed your plants the nitrogen they need to finish strong. Lack of nitrogen is one of the most significant robbers of yield and quality we can experience.

2.  Foliar Feeding:  Every year, producers experience hidden hunger in crops.  By using foliar feeding technologies, you will have a higher probability of achieving maximized yield and profit potential.

3.  Disease Management:  Fungal and bacterial diseases provide yield-limiting challenges every production year. Crop scouting and understanding the limitations of your crops is an integral part of a successful crop plan.

Start Strong and Finish Strong with AgriGro:

With our season-long approach to plant and soil health you have the opportunity to increase your microbial activity, nutrient availability, plant health and additional profit potential.

–  IgniteS4:  By adding IgniteS4 to your nitrogen you will increase availability to your plants.  Research has shown up to a 28% increase in nitrogen availability with the addition of IgniteS4.

–  AgriCal:  Adding AgriCal to the mix will provide another rise in uptake of all nutrients.  Adding AgriCal and IgniteS4 to your late-season nitrogen application, will balance the carbon-nitrogen ratio, drive microbial activity, and provide cell building calcium.

–  FoliarBlend: Adding FoliarBlend to your foliar nutrient application will increase nutritional uptake, root growth, plant health and soil microbial activity.  Research has shown significant increases in nutrient uptake with FoliarBlend or Ultra in the tank mix. Adding these products to your fungicide application will support better plant and root health creating healthier plants that can withstand the challenges that diseases may cause.

Don’t let your crops fall behind. We still have some key opportunities to drive grain quality, yield, and soil health to finish the 2019 season strong.

Improve your soil microbial richness and microbial diversity today – Let us help you. 

 

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Introducing SeedMaxx® Seed Treatment and IgniteS4® N-P-K Fertilizer Treatment

When your livelihood depends on maximizing crop production, count on the best seed supplements and fertilizer treatments available to help shoulder the load! AgriGro® provides industry-leading / prebiotic technologies that are sustainable, environmentally sound, and formulated to maximize yield and biological performance in your farming operation. AgriGro is your go-to source for quality agricultural supplements and are proud to announce the release of two new products.

SeedMaxx® and IgniteS4® represent the next generation of prebiotic supplements that are formulated to return a profit on this year’s crops while improving the production, quality, and health of the soil you farm. Let’s take a closer look at each of these products and what makes them special. Get in touch with AgriGro today if you have any questions about which products will provide the most benefits to your farm!

 

SeedMaxx® — A New Generation of Prebiotics

Why Choose SeedMaxx®?

This specialized formulation not only improves germination and early plant development but has a targeted effect on the soil’s native microbial populations in the rhizosphere. SeedMaxx® aids in overcoming early-season stress by helping seedlings withstand cool, damp growing conditions, and nutrient shortages, while improving drought tolerance, pushing crops to grow through yield dragging challenges to better reach their genetic yield potential. This unique prebiotic is formulated specifically for seed treatment and is compatible with most seed-applied broad-spectrum insect and disease protection products. SeedMaxx® should be professionally applied by your local seed supplier or on farm through commercial on-site seed treaters.

SeedMaxx® benefits:

  • Better seed germination and more even emergence
  • Improved seedling vigor and plant structure
  • Supports better root structure
  • Offers soil mobility to improve fertilizer efficiency and nutrient uptake
  • Supports nature’s “Web of Protection” in the rhizosphere.
  • Delivers consistent yield performance, better test weights and improved crop quality over a wide range of crops, climates and soil conditions

 

IgniteS4® — Maximizing Crop Yield and Fertilizer Efficiency

Why Choose IgniteS4®?

IgniteS4® is a new breed of prebiotic fertilizer treatment formulated for direct inoculation in all dry and liquid N-P-K fertilizer blends. IgniteS4’s safe, easy to use formula has a targeted effect on nutrient uptake and utilization while positively impacting the soil’s biological system. IgniteS4® significantly improves the release and uptake of essential plant nutrients and provides consistent results across a wide range of crops, climates and soil types. Research has documented the following benefits when using this innovative technology:

  • Offers soil mobility to improve fertilizer efficiency and enhance nutrient uptake across a wide range of soil types and growing conditions
  • Promotes improved root growth and plant development
  • Supports native microbial populations and improved soil health
  • Delivers consistent yield performance, better test weights, and improved crop quality
  • Can be used in both Liquid and Dry Fertilizer blends
  • Easy to use. No issues with mixing, storage or shelf life

High-Quality Seed and Fertilizer Treatments

For almost 40 years, AgriGro® has been an innovator in the commercial agriculture marketplace. From enhancing soil health and plant nutrition to improving livestock production, we are confident our technology can improve your operation’s bottom line. AgriGro is proud to continue our tradition of superior quality and customer satisfaction with these two exciting products. Contact our team today to discover all the ways in which SeedMaxx® and IgniteS can help you improve your fertilizer efficiency and crop production. We look forward to being a trusted partner in your farming operation.

 

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IgniteS4® Significantly Increases Total Plant Nutrient Uptake in Fertilizer Trial

 

 

Traditional sources of NPK were inoculated with AgriGro’s IgniteS then applied to pots of silt loam soil prior to planting with corn. The untreated pots included the same soil, fertilized with the same rates of NPK. 

30 days after planting, nutrient uptake comparisons were made between the IgniteS treated plants and untreated plants.

View results below:

 

 

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