BioCal® in Rotation

As we move forward into fall, it’s important to remember a valuable piece of information—all part of how we got to where we are…

Manage the agronomics

The term “Agronomics” can be misused in many ways, but it all comes down to maximizing the crop yield while maintaining the soil ecosystem.

BioCal® has been an integral part of many successes we have had at MBA, and you have had as a farmer.  It carries benefits beyond improving our percent base saturation Ca, such as helping decompose corn residues, improving soil tilth and texture, aiding in mobilization of vital plant nutrients, feeding soil life, and supplementing sulfate sulfur.  The agronomics of a product like BioCal® can be viewed as positive or negative, both depending on the outlook of who is writing the checks.   By adding the multiple benefits together, BioCal® brings a large amount of value to a row crop operation, increasing its agronomic benefit.

With the current market value of our crops it becomes necessary to tighten up our crop inputs in order to continue being profitable and hang in through a lower market period.  As a company we have always been conscious of this, and that’s one reason we have also recommended tight rotations.  Rotations are not only beneficial for our soil function, they are a means to capture different market targets for different cash crops.  Through this system, some of us at MBA have placed BioCal® in a rotation with our crop cycle.  We can retain improvements credited to soluble Ca while using a product that might take second place in our nutrient hierarchy for low value crops.  In Illinois, we use it in our soybean rotation.  The economics are as simple as this:

60 bu. soybeans x $9/bu = $540/A

At this price point we could be looking at net profits greater than $100/A

200 bu. corn x $3.20/bu = $640/A

At this price point we would be in the range of $25-$35/A net profit

My point with this hypothetical scenario is for you to look at what crops present value, and ask how can we retain agronomic progress?  Higher net profit crops in rotations create opportunity to keep our focus on improving soil/nutrient function and carry input cost away from lower value crops.  A 1000lb/A rate on corn residue going to soybeans will provide benefits defined above, and improve yield potential of the new crop at a low input cost.  Combine that with a low dose of fertilizer and you have created more production potential and an improved soil environment when rotated back to corn or wheat.

In 2014, soybean yields have been average.  By average I mean all over the board.  One constant remains—Soybeans grown under our system yield more.  Whether it be seed beans or beans for crush, our fertility program provides the productivity worthy of bragging rights, should they be desired.  BioCal®additions on our soybean ground have shown a +4 bushel advantage (so around $36/A depending on how you marketed. And there are carry over benefits to future crops, too.)Sure, we might have had a $45/A BioCal®application, but we put a lot of soluble Ca to allow us an opportunity to reevaluate our input strategy as a new crop plan goes into place. If we have enough to continue a BioCal®plan annually we can; if not, we can adjust your fertilizer blend to increase soluble Ca.  MBA’s advantage isn’t that we can do this, it’s that we’ve been doing it for 30 years.

As always we wish you a safe harvest and thank you for the opportunity to do business with your operation.