Global demand for nitrogen fertilizer is expected to increase in 2022, while the nitrogen supply is expected to be down due to reduced production and supply chain constraints. For growers, this equates to an increase in nitrogen fertilizer price as supply and demand forces react with each other.
Midwestern BioAg has always taken a system-based approach towards our fertility program. By balancing our customers’ soil chemical, physical, and biological needs, their farms can generally remain resilient through adverse weather conditions or unpredictable commodity marketplaces. We work with growers on improving soil nutrient levels, including soil nitrogen, through a process, we call biological farming. If we can accomplish this, our customers’ farms will be more profitable and less reliant on synthetic fertilizers.
Over the years, we have created products or have worked with other manufacturers in identifying products that meet our customers’ needs while maintaining a fit within our biological farming approach. In the last several years, there have been a few exciting products that have attempted to supply more atmospheric nitrogen to plants using nitrogen-fixing organisms. These products typically use one of two approaches: 1) A biological product containing living organisms that will live within the plant or soil while they fix nitrogen, or 2) a targeted chemical to stimulate native soil biology capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen.
CX-1 is a plant-based, liquid biological product from Purple Cow Organics. This product is a diverse biological with hundreds of unique bacteria and fungi. The organisms present in CX-1 stimulate soil biology, mineralizing nutrients like nitrogen, making them available for plant uptake. CX-1 is most effective with a carbon food source and can be applied in-furrow as a kickstarter of soil biology, as a foliar application in season to assist with nutrient uptake, or post-harvest to aid in residue decomposition.
Envita is a liquid product from Azotic North America containing Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, a nitrogen-fixing bacteria. When applied to crops, the bacteria supplies nitrogen to an actively growing plant during season. The organism in Envita fixes nitrogen within plant cells and as the organism colonizes it grows with the plant. The product is labeled for use in corn, soybeans, wheat, canola, sorghum, alfalfa, cotton, sugar beets, and potatoes among other crops. In corn and soybeans, the product can be applied in-furrow (with or without a starter fertilizer) or foliar (with or without herbicide) from V2-V6 to provide the crop with additional nitrogen.
Sound Agriculture has taken a different approach to supplying additional nutrients to the plants by working with existing soil organisms through their SOURCE products. SOURCE Corn and SOURCE Soybean fertilizer are two products that use chemistry to stimulate plant root exudates, signaling nitrogen-fixing and phosphorus mineralizing bacteria already present in soils. Foliar applications of the products are recommended, as the products move through plants into the soil via root exudates. SOURCE Corn is recommended to be applied to V4-V6 or VT-R3 corn, whereas SOURCE Soybean is recommended to be applied during the R1-R3 growth stage in soybeans. Both products are compatible with other herbicide or fungicide chemistries, allowing for a “free-ride” to provide supplemental nitrogen and phosphorus at critical crop growth stages.
Given that nitrogen fertilizer prices and availability may be a limiting factor in the 2022 growing season, it is important to explore options to ensure sufficient nitrogen is available for plant use while maintaining or improving soil biology. Although many of these products have demonstrated the ability to supply additional nitrogen to plants, we do not yet recommend replacing existing nitrogen recommendations. The BioAg system has taken 39 years to develop and is constantly improving. As we gather more data in the field for when and where these products meet grower needs, we can update our recommendations to reflect these improvements. Contact your Midwestern BioAg representative with any questions or if you would like more data on the BioAg system or these exciting new products for the upcoming growing season.