B: One of the things
I’m most concerned about going into the spring
of 2020 is – how about all our residue we have coming
off of 2019. Is that going to get broken down very well
going into 2020? The reason why I’m worried about this –
I think there might be more continuous corn acres. I
think that we could have a real issue with late harvest
this fall with all the late planting that there was. So
today we want to talk about how you can increase the
speed of residue breakdown on your farm. D: First of
all, if you haven’t harvested your corn yet, you
still have a lot of options on the table. For example,
can you run a chopping corn head? This is something
we’ve been doing on our farm now for a number of years. We’re sizing up that residue
into small chunks, and as we do that we’re cutting those
stalks up before they get run over, so we’ve got a
nice spread of the stalk material. This is going to
be a big thing – rather than piling it up in a big pile –
and the other thing is those small pieces, they’ve got a
whole bunch of exposed surface area where we can
get faster breakdown with microbial action. B: Now
when Darren talks about that microbial action – that
happens a lot faster if you till all your residue into
the soil. So that’s always on the table that you can do
tillage, but, for a lot of farmers, they don’t want to
do tillage simply because there’s more erosion
potential, you’re going to decrease your soil’s organic
matter level; I mean there are a lot of bad things plus
the fact that it costs money. So instead, what a
lot of people want to know is “how do I just naturally
get that residue to breakdown faster?” Darren
mentioned the chopping corn head – that’s absolutely
huge. But just understand what does break down residue
out there? Well it’s bacteria. There are
beneficial bacteria that are going to be out there
breaking that residue down. What do those bacteria need? They need oxygen and they
need nitrogen. So those are two real big keys that we
want to talk about. D: So let’s talk about the
nitrogen because so often I hear farmers say, “Hey, I’m
thinking about putting on some liquid 28 percent or
some liquid 32 percent or some form of nitrogen out in
my cornstalks to try to help speed that breakdown. I know
they’re really high in carbon, and cornstalks – a
lot of times they’ll say are 60 parts carbon to 1 part
nitrogen, but obviously there’s a little bit of
fluctuation there. So if I can get that ratio down to
say 12 to 1 – where I’ve got a whole bunch of nitrogen
out there to help these microbes break it down –
that’s a good thing, right?” Well I answer, “Of course it
is! It’s a great thing, I would love to see some
nitrogen out there” but you also need time. So let’s
just say you’re harvesting the first of November and
freeze-up has already happened, well you aren’t
going to get a whole lot of microbial activity out
there. But if it’s still warm out and you’ve got some
time, you definitely can see a speed-up in breakdown. B:
Yeah and even if you don’t have time this fall, that
nitrogen is still going to be there come spring so it
absolutely can help. Throwing a little sulfur
with it as well can make a difference. Now I mentioned
oxygen, too. If you’ve had a drainage issue and you
haven’t gotten that addressed and gotten your
water table down with drain tile, you’re not going to
have as much living bacteria out there and your residue’s
not going to break down as quickly. So a lot of people
will talk about this as soil health. Whenever you hear
‘soil health’ that means you’ve got lots oxygen in
that soil and you’ve got lots of beneficial microbes
that are constantly working for you. D: Now speaking of
those microbes, Brian, I am seeing more of a trend
industry wide to putting some microbes out with that
nitrogen application. Products like D-Comp for
example are getting used widely now to add the
microbes out there to help speed this breakdown. We saw
this year some guys that were trying different
microbial products. They saw some products that worked
well; others that didn’t work quite as well. So it’s
still not just a blanket statement of, “Yep you want
to put microbes in.” You want to make sure that the
ones you’re going to do are going to be beneficial for
you, but we do see some benefit adding the right
microbes in. B: Yeah like Darren mentioned D-Comp –
that’s got 65 beneficial microbes in there, so you
have 65 different species, you’re talking millions and
millions of microbes that are working out there on
every acre. That’s enormous, we’re after that. We want
faster residue breakdown and we know that microbes do the
job. So adding more beneficial microbes
absolutely can help. D: So whether you’ve already
started your corn harvest or you still got corn out in
the field – you’ve got time to influence residue
breakdown going into 2020. We think this will be a very
important thing to have a successful crop next year. Well one other important
thing for next year’s crop and this year’s crop is weed
control. We’ll show you how to stop this tough weed
later in the show.