With low grain prices, my farming costs are too high ... What do I do?

Friday, October 24, 2014

With low grain prices, my farming costs are too high ... What do I do?

In the last issue I discussed a new way to apply fertilizer that enables you to recover some of the fertility that exists in your soil, but that is unavailable to your plants because of it being bound up. We discussed how biologicals work to release bound up nutrients and solubilize them so that your plants can finally feed upon that nutrition. This is key, because without the work of microbial organisms (biologicals) in the dirt, those bound nutrients would remain in the ground and go to waste. Adding biologicals to your dry fertilizer program will add a powerful savings opportunity in these hard times. Moving on ...

Let me make a declarative statement: Biologicals save you money, make you money, and save you time!

Q. How do Biologicals save me money?

A. I'm glad you asked!

At this point, I think we can all agree from our past discussions that healthier plants are stronger and produce more seed. That's just a fact. Better soil conditions - soil that contains fewer pathogens, more organic matter, good fertility levels, and adequate drainage - impact a plant favorably and enables it to grow stronger and thrive up to maturity. The effort and expense to create such an environment in your soil is where this can get tricky. Let's take these concepts one and a time.

1) Fewer pathogens in the soil - the types of biological microorganisms that are included in the microbial formulations that we use are such that once they are applied, they immediately go to work fighting off harmful critters in your soil. The mere presence of this good bacteria is enough to repel the harmful organisms away from the good organisms. All while this is happening, the good bacteria continues to grow and multiply by the billions, expanding across the entire application area.

In terms of cost savings, the impact of this one dynamic in the field is such that we see growers that are able to lower their fungicide costs. These pathogens are defeated on the outset, requiring less need for a commercial fungicide.

2) More organic matter - increased organic matter in the field is another great benefit of biologicals. It's indirect, however. What happens is that when you have an entire field of crops that is healthier and that produces more seed, a strong and healthy root system is almost always at the heart of it. That results in a greater amount of organic material left behind in the field after harvest.

We know that insufficient organic matter in a field can kill the productivity of a crop. Growers are always monitoring their organic material and, in some cases, have to go to great expense to introduce more organic material into the ground. Some conventions are by incorporating manures - chicken manure, cow manure, etc. - and sometimes these manures can incorporate even more pathogens, causing a bigger problem than they solve. A bigger root mass is the best and easiest way to save money when dealing with low organic matter. Fortunately, biologicals address this issue while solving all of the other problems we're discussing.

3) Good fertility levels - We already discussed bound up nutrients in the soil and how biologicals release these nutrients and make them available to the plant again. I won't belabor that point any longer. It's sufficient to say that biologicals make your fertility efforts more effective and more productive. And biologicals save you money because you get more use of the nutrients you're putting on the ground.

4) Adequate drainage - Drainage has much to do with organic matter in the soil. The same argument for organic matter works when discussing how biologicals impact your drainage.

Q. What are some other ways that Biologicals can save me money?

A. All of our research, our experience on the farms of BigYield.us professionals, and all of the experience of our customers is that the biologicals create a reduced need for fungicide. In some instances we see growers reducing the rate of their fungicide. In some case we see growers skip a fungicide trip over the field altogether. All of the without compromising the health and vitality of the crop. There's savings there.

Some of our biological formulations include a cold processed sweetener called Soy100. This ingredient works to accomplish several things:

1) It works to feed the good bacteria that is working so hard to fight off pathogens and improve the health of the plants.

2) Sweetener is a substance that most bugs cannot digest, and if they do, it kills them. Some insects seem to know this already and just stay away from fields that contain food that they can't eat. Other insects will ingest the treated leaves and die shortly thereafter. Some of our growers have been able to significantly cut back on their insecticide program as a result.

3) The BRIX level is a measurement of the health of a plant. It is an indicator of the amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates that a plant contains. As you can imagine, the higher the BRIX levels of your plant, the healthier it is. These microbial formulations that contain the cold processed sweetener have a huge impact on the overall health of the plant. In fact, we often see an immediate impact on entire fields after even one application.

All of that saves you money.

Q. So, how do Biologicals MAKE me money?

A. Hopefully, some of the cost saving methods I wrote about above will contribute in such a way that you're making money. The key here is that we have seen, time and time again, that biologicals improve the health, vigor, and vitality of plants in the field. 99% of the time this leads to a yield increase at harvest. And increased yield means more revenue that can be applied to your bottom line.

Without a doubt, biologicals are one of the most important technological advances in modern agriculture. They have gone a significant way toward improving the yield of all sorts of crops - row crops, vegetables, fruits, nuts, tubers, etc. - and our research and understanding is resulting in advances by different companies each year. I anticipate that we will one day see microbial-based products (biologicals) that will be a contributing factor in as much as twice the yield we see on the farm today. It may take another decade to get there, but we're just at the start of this technology.

Q. Are Biologicals here to stay?

A. Yes

Q. Should I be looking at Biologicals?

A. Yes

If you're not already using biologicals in your operation, I want to encourage you to start reading about biologicals now. Begin the education process. Search online, talk to your crop consultant, talk to your CCA, or CALL ME! I love talking about biologicals and I love how they have impacted my farm research. And I know you will love the cost savings, time savings, and increased revenue that you'll see from using biologicals on your farm.

Let me end with this...

Q. Will Biologicals save me time?

A. Yes they will. The savings in time comes from all of the extra things that you don't have to do because of the massive army of billions of microorganisms that are working in your soil to improve the environment, and consequently, the health of your plants.

John Ortiz is the owner of Basic Solutions Research, an Agricultural Research Farm, and he is the General Manager of MOF2 in Garden City, Missouri. Contact John at johno@agteampro. com, or at MOF2, LLC - P.O. Box 401, Garden City, MO 64747. John can also be reached by phone at 816-773-6018.