A Letter from the CEO

Dear Loyal Customers,

It has been an exciting summer and fall for Midwestern BioAg.  As many of you know, the company changed hands in June and a group of investors teamed with our management to take this company to a new level—to reach the goal that Gary set so many years ago—to change agriculture around the world.  Gary continues is his role as President and “Chief Visionary Officer.”  One of the original investors, Douglas Rosenberg, has increased his support for the company and is taking an ever more active role.  This is exciting as he brings great relationships, business acumen and financial capacity.

Over the summer, I spent a lot of time meeting many of our staff and independent dealers to lay the groundwork for the growth ahead.

On the growth side, we have much to report.  On November 5 we formally merged Iowa BioAg and Kalona BioAg into Midwestern BioAg.  This follows on our previous mergers with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, bringing together all four blending facilities plus some of the independents and creating a new team that will be stronger together than we were individually.  We have hired another dozen sales consultants, new support staff and continue to move forward on building the first new blending facilities in northern Illinois. We are in late negotiations on our first new fertilizer manufacturing plant and hope to have some improved new products, at attractive prices, available in the middle of next year.

As we move into the fall and winter, we are extremely excited by all of our progress and sobered by the amount yet to be done.  I thank you for your patience as we put in place the foundation for some strong growth, improved service and better ways to meet your needs.  I look forward to working with you all.

Sincerely, Tony

Anthony “Tony” Michaels, Ph.D.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Fall Soil Sampling: To Grid or Not to Grid

When planning for fall soil sampling there are a number of things to consider. Like a lot of things, it used to be pretty simple. You took your shovel, dug some soil from a couple spots in the field and called it a day. Over the past decade or more, however, we’ve become much more aware of how variable the soil environment can be. We’ve also developed some really powerful tools and technology that can use our soil test data to help us dial in on factors that are driving yield and quality. So it’s not so simple anymore, but it’s still not rocket science.The first thing to remember is that you need to soil sample. Yes, it’s worth it. Without a soil test, there is no baseline for improvement. We need to replace the fertility we are removing when we harvest our crops and we can’t do that without knowing where we stand. That soil test is not only a prescription for improving yields, but also for maintaining them. And it’s not just yield, a healthy, high-quality crop is dependent on having a well-balanced, mineralized soil. Plus, given the technology we have available, there is so much we can learn from soil sampling regarding our limiting factors and the interactions that are taking place between soil properties. The next thing to remember about soil sampling is to do it at the same time of year every year. Most of us soil sample in the fall when the crops are off, which is great. However, sometimes producers run out of time and decide they want to soil sample in the spring. The problem is, if you usually fall soil test, a spring soil test will look a lot different. Soil tests give an idea of what’s going on in our soil, but it’s just a snapshot, and consistency is the key. You can get a good idea of where you need to go with the soil test, and to best monitor your progress taking soil samples at the same time of year is important.The last thing to consider is how to soil sample. Do you want to do a simple composite sample, a grid sample, or sample management zones?

 

“Without a soil test, there is no baseline for improvement.”

 

A composite sample is the simplest way to soil sample, and it’s the way many growers have soil sampled in the past. It involves walking the field in a “W” pattern and taking a series of cores across the field, mixing them together and sending them to the lab as one sample. The number of cores taken depends on the field size, and you may end up taking a subsample of your sample if you have a large field. Since you are only sending in one sample, you get a general overview of the field, but no information about variability within the field. Therefore, composite sampling is most useful on fields that are very uniform in topography and soil type.

If you have a lot of variability in your topography or soil types, or if the field has been managed in a way that may produce variability (for instance, bales were fed to livestock in one part of the field for many years) then grid sampling may be a good idea. Grid sampling involves laying a grid of a pre-determined size over the field and taking a series of 5-10 cores around each grid point (where the lines intersect). The size of the grid is often set at 2-2.5 acres; however, if you desire greater accuracy grids of 1 acre can be used. Remember that the smaller the grid the more samples and the higher the cost. Grid sampling is a good way to get a picture of what’s going on in the soil. It allows you to see the variation in soil properties across the field and plan accordingly. If you lay a yield map over your grid sampling data it can also give an indication of what soil properties are the most closely correlated with yield.

Sampling by management zone is another option. If you know your field has several different soil types and that yield generally varies with these soil types, then it makes sense to take a series of cores within each zone. Contour strips are another example of when sampling by management zone makes the most sense. Sampling this way gives you the ability to tailor your fertilizer applications to the needs of each zone and therefore make better and more practical decisions.

Field Day 2014: Products, Principles & Practices of Biological Farming

From corn to cover crops to cows to cabbage, Midwestern BioAg’s 23rd annual Field Day will offer learning opportunities for every farmer and producer.

The Tuesday, Aug. 19 event is returning to a full day format, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the BioAg Learning Center and the adjacent Otter Creek Organic Farm, between Dodgeville and Lone Rock in Southwestern Wisconsin. Educational presentations on a variety of hot topics in agriculture will be ongoing throughout the day. Visitors can also take a farm tour, view demonstration plots, a soil pit, and ask questions at the information booth. Gary Zimmer, farmer, author, president and founder of Midwestern BioAg will sum up the day’s activities with closing remarks at 3:30 p.m.

The Field Day, says Gary Zimmer, “is not only a celebration of biological farming, but a place to meet and visit with others, a chance to learn and see our farming methods and tools. There will be learning stations and experiments for you to get ideas to use on your own farm.” And although the field day is held on an organic farm, all types of farmers can find new ideas. “The Field Day has never been just for organic farmers. The products, practices and principles we use can be adapted to any farm.”

Zimmer and other BioAg consultants and staff will be on hand to share their expertise through presentations and tours. Our day will start with a welcome by Zimmer at 10 a.m. Sessions and tours will begin at 10:30 and continue into the afternoon.

  • Wagon tours will take visitors around the Learning Center to see the soil under our feet at the soil pit, then view alfalfa and corn. Tours will last approximately 45-minutes.
  • Crop production: See no-till and rolled soybeans, plus sweet corn. Will also discuss weed control on an organic farm. Approximately 45-minute tour, including free bus transportation to nearby location.
  • Vegetable production, with MBA specialty crop consultant Allen Philo, will visit the nearby start-up three acre garden. Approximately one hour tour, including free bus transportation.
  • Cover crops demonstration plot will present the opportunity to view a selection of soil building/soil enhancing mixtures, and discuss how to get the most from cover crops. 45 minute session.
  • Forages: Alfalfa production, including foliar applications. 45 minute session.
  • Liquid Carbon Based Fertilizer: Learn the advantages of Midwestern BioAg’s L-CBF TerraFed, our exciting innovations in crop production. 45 minute session.
  • Dairy nutrition and raising young stock at Otter Creek Organic Farm, including pastures. Healthy productive cows are the goal at Otter Creek, the Zimmer family’s award winning organic dairy.
  • The MBA booth, in the main tent, will feature livestock management, soil management, seed, precision agriculture, and specialty crop management. A catered hot lunch will be served.

L-CBF Product Line: The Focus of 2014 Field Research

As part of our product evaluation research this year, the Midwestern BioAg research team is managing plot trials at several locations around southern Wisconsin related to the performance of the L-CBF product line. Staff Agronomist-Jeff Gunderson, Intern-Kyle Dionne and VP of Education, Training and Outreach-Leilani Zimmer-Durand are all working together to evaluate L-CBF product performance along with Midwestern BioAg’s dry fertilizer blends.

Placement and timing of application are the focus of the trials being done this year. Kyle Dionne is managing the plots on a day-to-day basis, taking alfalfa clippings, evaluating root development and tissue testing at each research site. Midwestern BioAg also has several corn hybrid variety trials throughout the state and is even looking at a few other potential product offerings. Several new trials being done this summer include the evaluation of the L-CBF product line in conjunction with RootSurge as a pop-up fertilizer on corn and soybeans. The RootSurge product contains several microbes that benefit the rhizosphere of plant roots. It also provides a balanced ratio of chelated micronutrients needed for increased plant performance throughout the growing season. Staff Agronomist Jeff Gunderson notes that the RootSurge with L-CBF will stimulate biological activity, enhance early season root growth and and help to address early season nutrient deficiencies.

Following the positive results of last year’s foliar trials, Midwestern BioAg is once again assessing the effectiveness of foliar applications of L-CBF on alfalfa and soybeans. Specifically, yield and forage quality are being measured on the alfalfa ground with rates of 5 gpa and 10 gpa being applied after each cutting on stubble and on regrowth of 4-8”. Results thus far seem to suggest that applications to regrowth are showing the best responses, but it is too early to say anything concrete. In soybeans we are looking at the effect of timely applications of L-CBF 10-14-1 on yield; more to come on this at the end of the year. This year’s trials are being conducted at four biological/conventional farms and one certified organic farm in southern Wisconsin. Each farm is visited on a weekly basis and data is recorded to get the most information possible from each plot. The BioAg Learning Center also has plots where trials are currently being done that you will have the chance to see first hand at this year’s Field Day event.

Are You Ready for Corn Silage?

Summer is moving right along and it isn’t too early to start thinking about corn silage harvest. It sounds pretty obvious but you only get one opportunity to get your corn silage harvest right each year. According to University of Illinois Dairy Extension specialist Mike Hutjens , ”Only about one-third of farms chop silage at the right particle length with the kernels sufficiently processed. “Some labs would say that number might even be a bit generous at a third. That it’s maybe closer to 15-20% who get it right.”

Whole kernels passing undigested through cows could mean a loss in milk production of up to 4 lbs/cow/day. A Penn State Forage Particle Separator is an excellent tool to check particle length and how well the corn is crushed. Properly chopped corn silage should result in about 10-15% of forage particle dry matter in the top box with no whole kernels. If you see more than 5% whole kernels or if you find pieces of cob greater than an eighth of the cob diameter, then you just don’t have those rolls set tight enough.A Corn Silage Processing Score package or CSPS is a test package available along with your regular corn silage analysis. For less than the cost of 100lbs of milk, your silage will be accessed as optimum, average or inadequately processed. With the potential for a 4lb/hd/day difference in milk production between inadequately processed silage and optimal, this package can pay for itself very quickly. Another great method to evaluate your processor is to toss a few handfuls of freshly chopped corn into a bucket of water, remove the floating stover, and examine the kernels on the bottom.Years of UW corn silage data show how much yield differed between the best and worst performers in a variety of trials. The highest-yielding hybrid averaged 3.2 tons/acre more dry matter than the lowest -producing one, a 39% difference. The average difference in milk per acre was about 11,500 lbs between the highest- and lowest-yielding hybrids.

Top Ten Corn Silage Harvest Recommendations

1. Put it up at the right time.

2. Put up the right amount.

3. Put up the right hybrid.

4. Adequately chop and process silage.

5. Fill the silo quickly.

6. Pack it, pack it and pack it!

7. Use Fermentation Plus Inoculant.

8. Cover and seal the storage unit immediately after filling.

9. Manage the face of the silo when feeding.

10. Be safe. Silage harvest days can be incredibly long.

Time to Start Thinking About Cover Crops

As wheat harvest begins in the Midwest it’s time to start thinking about cover crops. The window between wheat or corn silage harvest and the end of the season can be a favorable time to establish a cover crop, but it is important to plan ahead and consider your options before moving forward.

Cover crops can help to contribute, retain and efficiently cycle nutrients, suppress weeds, protect the soil from wind and water erosion, and enhance soil quality. However, to maximize the benefits you receive from your late summer or fall cover crop there are a number of things to consider, one of the most important being what you are trying to accomplish with your cover crop. Selection depends on what you hope to get from the cover. Are you looking for a crop to add extra nitrogen? Or for a fast growing hay crop for extra forage? Or for a crop to break up soil compaction? Possibly there is a need for some ground to spread excess manure and a cover crop to hold on to that manure. Many growers will be looking to fill the niche after wheat or corn silage with a cover that will winterkill or can be terminated easily in the fall or spring.

Summer annual legumes such as soybeans, crimson clover, cowpeas or sunn hemp can provide extra nitrogen, and will winterkill. Tillage radish can help to break up compacted layers. Sorghum-sudangrass can be a good choice for producers looking for emergency forage or to simply hold on to the nutrients coming from manure applications. Cool season crops include field peas, red or white clovers. These crops may establish better as we move into cooler fall weather, although N fixation from clovers may be minimal if they are terminated the next spring. Winter rye, oats and triticale are options for fall planting as well. Many cover crop mixtures including small grains and/or legumes along with radishes may have utility; however, remember that timing of establishment is important. Seeding tillage radish after early September may still have benefits, but roots will not develop the girth commonly seen in advertisements.

 

“The window between wheat or corn silage harvest and the end of the season can be a favorable time to establish a cover crop.”

 

Midwestern BioAg is proud to be able to provide our customers with Cover Crop Solutions cover crop seed. CCS has designed a number of cover crop mixes that can be a good fit for planting in the late summer/early fall.

  • Tillage Max DoverTM includes Tillage Radish® and oats. This mix provides rapid biomass accumulation in cool fall weather, effectively scavenges nitrogen and can improve soil structure. The fibrous root system of the oats compliments the radish’s taproot to efficiently use resources, and that taproot breaks down quickly in the spring, releasing nutrients.
    • Seed 3-10 weeks before a killing frost. Drill at 25 lb/ac or broadcast at 30 lb/acre.
  • Tillage Max CharlotteTM contains Tillage Radish® as well, but in this case with triticale and crimson clover. Triticale is an excellent N scavenger, and being a winter annual, will overwinter and regrow in the spring, providing early season erosion control and stimulating biological activity earlier due to the production of root exudates. Crimson clover may winter kill in Wisconsin, but can fix nitrogen in the fall if planted early enough and tends to fix more nitrogen when planted in combination with non-legumes than when planted alone.
    • Seed 3-10 weeks before a killing frost (early seeding means more nitrogen fixation). Drill at 40 lb/ac or broadcast at 50 lb/ac.
  • Tillage Max HomesteadTM includes Tillage Radish® along with sunn hemp and sorghum-sudangrass. This mix is an option after wheat harvest as it includes warm-season crops. This mix produces a large amount of biomass quickly and can can be grazed, baled or cut for silage. Sunn hemp is a tropical legume that can fix substantial amounts of nitrogen quickly.
    • Seed at least 8 weeks before a killing frost. Drill at 15 lb/ac

From the Farm of Gary Zimmer

Dear Farmer/Agribusiness person,

Field Day is coming up soon; the third Tuesday in August this year is the 19th. Also this year we are back to doing a one day, all day event. Field Day is a celebration of biological agriculture and also a time to show you our farm and farming practices. Otter Creek Organic Farm, my family’s farm, has been in operation since the early 90’s or about 20 years ago. When the farm first started (it was a dairy farm), we began experimenting with a number of trial plots. One was corn on corn which was interseeded with a clover-rye-radish mix. One-third of the field received manure, one-third received extra nitrogen, and the last one-third received just a biological starter fertilizer. I was trying to demonstrate that with manure, starter fertilizer, and cover crops, the need for nitrogen would be minimized. This was 20 years ago, we weren’t organic then, and our yields were 135-150 bushels of corn per acre. Applying minimal herbicides, no insecticides, and using minimal tillage, it was, for the time, very successful. Another trial we tried was to take soil tests and add whatever was missing by doing the numbers calculations, and we learned a great deal from that. One other demonstration plot was a corn bean rotation with different calcium additions from different sources: high calcium lime, gypsum, and Bio-Cal®. This trial we continued for eight years, and learned more every year. For alfalfa, we tried tight rotations, adding grasses to the mix, varying fertilizers, and again we learned a lot. We came up with ideas and developed plans for growing super quality forages with balanced fertility, fast turn over, great quality and excellent yields. It helped set in place our biological fertilizer balances and programs.

With balanced fertility and healthy soils, there was no need for insecticides. I have never seen an economic loss from insect damage in those 20 years.Since that time, my children have gotten involved in the farm and we expanded it. We moved to organic farming, which means we had to switch a few inputs like fertilizers and give up some tools, like the minimal amounts of herbicides we were then using, and the occasional antibiotics for the cows were gone. Paper work and management increased —intensive management is required if you want to be successful but there are financial rewards for making those changes. Today we farm about 1000 acres, milk about 200 cows, and do some cash cropping as well. Ours is a biological/organic farm which means we do everything we can to get the soils healthy and mineralized creating an ideal home for soil life, feeding them, balancing their diet with types of feed and minerals as carefully as we feed our cows. With all the cost increases that have been pushed onto us farmers (land, equipment, fertilizers, chemicals, technology, labor), we feel it’s necessary to raise the bar on inputs and outputs. That means getting more from every acre by using tools such as cover crops, tight rotations, compost, manures, soil correctives, increased crop fertilizers and controlled tillage.

On our good land, under normal growing conditions (whatever that is!), we expect 25-30 tons corn silage, 8 tons hay, 175-200 bushel corn, 60 bushel beans.

There are many ways to farm, but soil health and minerals are common to all. The question is how do we measure soil health and what is it that we measure? How do we measure our progress and what can we expect? You have choices– sustainable, low input, high tech plant altered chemical farming, or a biological, doing the maximum for soil health and crop performance. We do have the knowledge and tools to be successful, using whatever method fits your farm and management style.

What can you expect to see and learn at our Field Day?

Alfalfa: high seeding rate, extra crop fertilizers, foliars and plant feeding.

Corn: from wide row to narrow; both liquids and dry crop fertilizers. Silage corns and grains along with sweet corn. Check out our new cultivator which I believe will make organic row crops easier to grow and more successful with better weed control.

Cover crop plot: all the latest types of plants to give the results needed when and where, with crops to be grown.

Vegetable production: buses will transport visitors to see a nearby vegetable farming operation on several acres, and gearing up to do a large scale local organic farm business with automation and scale in mind.

Dairy: The Otter Creek dairy herd, how we feed and manage on a high forage diet, from calves to heifers to dry cows to the milking herd. Our consultants and livestock nutrition specialists will be there to answer your questions, along with Gary Zimmer’s daughter Sadie, who has taken over herd management. She can give you all the practical daily things we do for healthy, productive cows.

Nutrient management: How nutrients are managed on the farm; use of compost and manure; fertilizer and soil corrective uses.

Farm Stats: Cost of our program and yield expected and experienced.

I hope to see you on Tuesday, Aug. 19.

Gary F. Zimmer

Gimme Some Sugar

It made the front page of Nebraska Farmer, was featured in John Deere’s The Furrow Magazine and has been part of Midwestern BioAg’s fertilizer line-up for over 25 years. Sugar is quickly becoming a staple in producers’ fertilizer programs across the country. In Nebraska, a study was conducted in 2010 that saw a 1.6 bushel per acre increase in yield across acres with foliar applied sugar. Another farmer sprayed his corn ground with a sugar and liquid carbon mix with similar results. When tests were run in Ohio, researchers found a 6 bushel per acre increase in those acres treated with 7 pounds of sugar per acre.*

Obviously, producers can be skeptical when it comes to using sugar as a fertilizer; no one is overly excited with the thought of running a sticky, sugary solution through their equipment. A typical sugar solution can require a lot of effort to clean up and can be a hassle for those dealing with short windows for applying fertilizer. That’s where Midwestern BioAg can step in and help.

“In 10 out of 12 trials conducted in 2013, L-CBF treated acres performed equal to, or better than, those treated with competitors’ products.”

MBA’s Liquid Carbon Based Fertilizer (L-CBF) line not only contains domestic cane molasses as a sugar source, but it also requires virtually no additional clean-up over traditional non-sugar liquid fertilizers. Midwestern BioAg and QLF have teamed up to create products that are not only rich in carbon and sugars, but also provide highly available nutrients, help stabilize other nutrients, stimulate soil biology, enhance root growth and provide more effective and efficient nutrient utilization of N-P-K. Our L-CBF is non-corrosive and contains only feed grade ingredients proven to feed soil microbes and enhance soil biology. Just like the results seen in Ohio and Nebraska, on-farm trials of L-CBF products have shown positive yield increases across many farming and management systems. In 10 out of 12 trials conducted in 2013, L-CBF treated acres performed equal to, or better than, those treated with competitors’ products. With demonstrated yield increases of up to 25%, L-CBF has proven to be a competitive and influential product to take yields to the next level.**

The versatility of L-CBF is another huge benefit to this unique product. In-furrow, pop-up, starter, or foliar applied acres have all seen boosts in yield and better utilization of plant nutrients.

Growers are consistently looking for strategies to improve the efficiency of production while maximizing their yields. Correct fertilizer timing and placement are extremely important in achieving this goal. Ensuring that the right amount of nutrients are available to the crop at the right time and in the right place reduces the risk of our crops having a bad day, and that means increased yields. L-CBF provides unique and beneficial components that work hand in hand with a producer’s overall fertility program to provide adequate nutrition to the crop.

Interest in using sugars in fertilizer is growing across the country, from champion soybean producers to 360 bushel per acre corn fields; sugar has been proven to help push yields to the next level when used with a balanced fertility program. Steve McManaman, agronomist with Aurora Co-op in Aurora, Nebraska, is also convinced sugar works and believes he knows why. “Applying sugar is like drinking Mountain Dew — it provides an energy boost. It enhances the nutrient uptake of plants and also increases microbial activity when applied to the soil. This speeds residue decomposition and the mineralization of soil organic matter,” he says. Give Midwestern BioAg a call to learn more about how molasses based L-CBF can benefit your operation. We have options available for both conventional and organic farms and want to make sure your operation is performing at its highest potential.

*Information used in this article came from “Sweet Success”: Reichenberger: The Furrow, 2014. and “Will Spraying Corn with Sugar Be the Next Big Thing” Bachman: Nebraska Farmer 2014.
**Trial information from Midwestern BioAg, Inc. was taken in 2013; for more detailed trial results please contact info@midwesternbioag.com.

 

“Biology in a Bottle”: The Next Big Thing

These days the ag world is buzzing with talk of yield enhancing biological products. “Boost plant performance”, “harness the power of nature”, “feed soil biology”, “unlock your soils’ potential to supply nutrients”: These types of slogans are heard and seen all over ag media. And you know what’s funny? A lot of these products are trying to do the same things that Midwestern BioAg has been doing for 30 years. The difference lies in the fact that MBA takes a systems approach, as opposed to the piecemeal approach of applying a product here or a product there. MBA recognizes that soil health comes from building fertility and improving nutrient and water- holding capacity as well as soil aggregation. The benefit of biological products in a bottle is icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

Although many of these biological products contain substances that may be beneficial to plant or soil health, the question is whether this translates into a production benefit in the real world. Are these products actually altering soil or plant chemistry or, as Gary Zimmer likes to say, are they “muck-a-magic”, or too good to be true? Sifting through the information to get the most bang for your buck can be time consuming, but it is more and more important as profit margins shrink.

One of the most recent additions to Midwestern BioAg’s product line is RootSurge®. What sets RootSurge apart from other “biology-in-a-bottle” products is its formulation. The product is a combination of three exclusive and expertly formulated products that provide specially chelated micronutrients in ratios conducive to plant uptake, as well as beneficial microorganisms and a food source to sustain them.

 

“The dual action chelation yields micronutrients to plants more readily”

 

Chelated forms of micronutrients have become common in the industry. Mixing a chelating agent with micronutrients helps to keep them more available in the soil. The chelator reacts with the nutrient and holds onto it tightly enough to keep it from interacting with the soil and being tied up, but loosely enough to allow plants to absorb it. RootSurge is formulated with a patented dual chelation system. The product contains some EDTA, which is the industry standard to chelate certain micronutrients, but also contains Iminodisuccinate sodium (IDS) chelated micros. This special chelator is designed to work across a wider pH range than EDTA. The dual action chelation also yields up micronutrients to plants more readily and biodegrades more quickly than EDTA, which can persist in the soil for extended periods.

RootSurge also contains several strains of plant growth promoting microorganisms. The strains of bacteria in RootSurge enhance plant growth by increasing photosynthetic efficiency, producing enzymes that speed up the release of nutrients from organic matter and produce hormones that mimic those that plants use to induce growth. Some of these strains are also known to directly suppress many pathogenic fungi that exist in the soil, such as Fusarium and Pythium. RootSurge also contains a strain of mycorrhizal fungi, which helps improve plant nutrient acquisition. This specific mixture of microorganisms was carefully selected to utilize the most beneficial strains available.

When discussing products that add microorganisms to the soil, the question that often arises is whether these microbes actually survive in the soil long enough to have a positive effect. The soil is an ever-changing environment, and there has been some worry that the biology in so-called “microbial soil inoculants” cannot persist in the soil due to the various stressors they encounter. When creating RootSurge, two approaches have been taken to ensure that the biology survive and thrive. The first is simply to include a large amount of microorganisms. RootSurge contains exponentially more “colony forming units” than any of its competitors, and this provides an insurance policy against a variable environment. The second approach is to add a proven food source for the microbes to feed on as they establish themselves in the soil. This food source contains proteins and other compounds that support the microbial component of RootSurge, while also supplying nutritional substances that can be utilized by the plant directly.

RootSurge can be used in a variety of ways with your current fertility program. As a seed treatment, RootSurge improves germination, enhances plant root development and improves stress tolerance.RootSurge’s patented chelated micronutrients are stable in solutions with a pH range of 3-11 and areortho- and poly-phosphate compatible meaning they can be applied with water soluble fertilizers.RootSurge also has exceptional tank-mix compatibility with many other fertilizers as well as pesticides making it ideal for soil, foliar and hydroponic applications. When applied at 2 qts per acre, RootSurge has been shown to improve water stress, enhance root mass and depth and increase nutrient availability in the soil. It is hands down one of the best “biology in a bottle” products on the market today. Its unique combination of three exclusive products brings exponentially more microbes, chelated micronutrients and enzymes than other comparable products; increasing the production and profitability of your operation.

RootSurge is an excellent addition to a biological fertility program. It provides micronutrients that are readily plant available as well as microorganisms that support plant health and can enhance nutrient acquisition and efficiency of use. To learn more about utilizing RootSurge on your operation, contact your Midwestern BioAg consultant today.

From the Farm of Gary Zimmer

Dear Farmer/Agribusiness person,

I think spring is finally getting close—I saw a robin today. They return as normal, despite our cold, late spring. Considering the weather we’ve had the last couple of years, I’m not sure what ‘normal’ is anymore. This winter seemed normal, at least, more like what I remember of winter as a kid here in Wisconsin. Then again, we remember best those cold, hard times. We also didn’t have the nice warm, water proof winter boots and clothing we have today.

I have just returned from giving seminars in Australia; they don’t know what ‘normal’ is, either. I was in an area where they are supposed to get rain but it sure was dry. It definitely is hard farming there. Input prices are high, the land is old, worn out and needs help. Liming would go a long way on most acres; more phosphorous and traces wouldn’t hurt either. Except for the liming, it doesn’t sound a lot different than what’s needed in many parts of the world. One thing does seem obvious, the Australians who are dairying, biological farming, doing the minerals, growing the cover crops, the ones that are working hard to achieve soil health and fertility have more resilience. It’s amazing, though, that with all the grazing they do, few rotate pastures. Burning stubble and leaving land lay fallow (bare) for a year is also still done.

Changes are being made, however. My classes were well attended and not by just the smaller or ‘life style quality’ farmers. Many mid-sized to large farmers are also getting in the game– they not only have problems to solve but they feel that something is missing. Very seldom do I meet farmers or visit an area where everything is working perfectly. We all have limiting factors!

Now that the grain prices have been high, you would hope that many of those ‘style farmers’ would have fixed many of the soil health/fertility issues that needed fixing: soil correctives and implementing a system which may have required the investment of dollars. What also always seems obvious is that once you invest to go to the next level, you know how to stay there and don’t go back. You make the system reproductive (repeat it yearly). As an example, going from producing five tons of quality dairy forage to eight tons/acre is doable. It takes great genetics, a perfect stand, and a high quality diet of Bio-Cal®, balanced fertility and crop nutrients. Doing what needs to be done to move from five to eight tons of production is an investment with an outstanding return. Farmers who get there, stay there—it’s achievable. And now that milk prices are good, “do it!” Our MBA consultants can help.

Some farmers go to the next level with corn, too; then staying there is easier. You can also ‘weather out the bad weather’ so to speak. I know we, at Otter Creek Organic Farm are not out shopping for more high priced land to buy, but we are instead taking our land to the next level—that was one of my topics at the winter seminars. The other was to continue getting what we presently get—the five tons of forage and the 150 bushel corn as an example. We don’t need all the expensive inputs, the biotechnology, the pesticides, the nitrogen—all can be eliminated or reduced by changing rotations, growing the cover crops, getting the soils balanced, using a balanced fertilizer. You can be a low input sustainable farm. It’s your choice, the same as with dairy. You don’t need to be the highest producing herd in the county to be profitable.

But, whichever kind of farm you are, high quality mineralized forages are a must. We know how to do it; forages should ideally be 75% of the cows’ diet. We know what quality dry cow and calf raising programs look like. It’s not that hard—the knowledge is available and so are the prices of milk. You can put the BioAg system in place—call one of our consultants to learn how.I didn’t speak at as many meetings this past winter, as there are so many other things going on. I certainly do enjoy getting out to see you and update you on my world– the biological view of agriculture. Thanks so much for attending my meetings, and the other meetings MBA sponsored. We keep growing and so does biological farming; it’s great to see and be a part of that growth. Ten years ago I would have never dreamt that this farming system would go so mainstream. I always thought it would be a specialized farming system for the few who took it on. It’s very much a dream come true for me. Thank you all for being a part of it and supporting Midwestern BioAg.

Have a great growing year.

All the best,

Gary F. Zimmer