It is all about perspective, isn’t it? Some folks refer to the ground between the coasts as “fly over states.” Somewhere between points A and B. From 10,000 feet, it might appear there isn’t much to see. We here in the grain belt know that the view from about 1000 feet on a clear, dry October day is quite the contrary. It is a beehive of activity with nests of combines, catch carts, semi-trucks and grain hopper trailers toting their golden corn and soybean honey on a network of gravel roads to clusters of mammoth grain handing facilities dotting the countryside. It is far from a sleepy flat piece of land void of life.  

Macroscopic perspective. A walk out into a harvested corn field begs a sigh of relief from the grower. The stresses of choosing the seed variety to match that field’s potential, leveraging the fertility program with the needs of the soil without breaking the bank, managing weed and disease threats potentially robbing his crop of yield, offering a prayer for mother nature to bring timely rain without disastrous wind and hail, and finally safely collecting the crop from the field are finally behind him now. He looks over the quiet field and it would appear the field is ready for its winter slumber. It looks the same if he bends over and pulls up one of those corn stalk stumps. A ball of soil clings to the brace roots, just black dirt.  

What does that look like under the microscope, though? It is an agronomic frontier far from a “walk-over state.” While it is understood that a flurry of activity is taking place in the rhizosphere year-round-that definite relationships exist between plants and microscopic bacteria and fungi-but the exact science behind these interactions is a whole new miniscule undiscovered galaxy for crop production research. Nutrient management is the foundation on which a good cropping system is built, but could it be that the phytobiome is the missing piece unlocking chemically bound elements in the soil?

Biologically active products are available today and being used on Agronomy Rx client acres. In the photo, the north two portions of this field were treated with Environoc 501, a product containing B. amyloliquefaciens, B. lichenformis, B. subtilis, B.subtilis, C. cellasea, C. brasiliense, C. murorum, P. putida, P. stutzeri, S. pastoriamus, S. albidoflavius, and S. ghanaensis. The area of the field south of the waterway was left untreated. The mission of this team of bacteria is to digest and degrade the cellulose and lignin of the stalk, and subsequently aid in recycling nutrients back to the soil.  

Other biologically active products have been applied in the springtime alongside crop seeds with the intention of enhancing microbe-plant root symbiosis, and results are being observed in yield monitors this fall. As harvest data becomes available, Agronomy Rx is reviewing other contributors to yield including weather events, nitrogen application, hybrid, and soil type.  

Macroscopic and microscopic perspective. Acres upon acres of crop land are far from sleepy static tracts of land. Whether viewed from the air, a Chevy truck window, or through electron microscopy; the land is alive and we are here to keep it as such. 

Something in the water...

Biodyne Environoc™ 401 vs untreated control

Two days following planting-the well at right was treated with Biodyne Environoc™  401 according to label instructions, the well at left served as untreated control. 

By 8 days post-planting, treated corn plants showed increased growth and plant vigor

Bacterial boost

With Environoc 401's mixture of  Azospirillum, Bacillus, Cellulomonas, Pseudomonas, and Streptomyces species inoculated at planting, treated corn plants were nearly 50% larger at 23 days after planting

Measured results

Both corn plants from each treatment group were pulled on day 26 of the trial period, roots were cleaned, plants were weighed and measured from the first root to the tip of the longest leaf. Plants treated with Environoc 401 weighed 0.6oz and measured 45.5cm from root1 to the tip of the longest leaf, while untreated controls weighed 0.3oz and measured 34cm from root 1 to tip of the longest leaf. 

Biodyne Environoc 401

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