Cultural and Nutritional Management Priorities

Cultural and Nutritional Management Priorities

good evening friends welcome to this advanced in eco agriculture webinar the topic tonight is a discussion and a conversation on how to make decisions and how to prioritize product applications and how to think about managing agricultural ecosystems for the greatest economic crop response and for the greatest crop benefit so I've realized that there are a lot of conversations lots of discussions where people are describing the merits and the benefits of specific products and what is often missing even from many agronomists and consultants is a discussion about what the priorities might be and how to prioritize which products to apply first and when to which products to apply what the priorities and the sequence are to get the greatest crop response the maximum economic results so I realized that as our system has developed that advancing eco agriculture over the last decade we've had a benefit of a lot of crop experiences in different environments testing a broad range of different products and we've had the opportunity to observe a lot of different products and we have really had the advantage of a lot of observation to identify which products are most effective and in what context so I wanted to share some of those thoughts because I think some of the pieces that we've observed are perhaps not what you might expect and in fact they're not what most people expect at all and I also want to share some thoughts on developing and using what we term synergistic stacks how do you stack and combine different products and different combinations to produce the greatest crop response so there's there's two different frameworks for this conversation the first framework which I believe is the very important framework the most important is how did how to deliver an immediate economic response while also having a long-term regenerative impact on the ecosystem I believe very to become the mainstream to become the status quo in the into the future then we need to deliver very strong economic benefits and economic results immediately right out of the gate the very first applications the very first growing season there needs to be a very strong crop response so this this first framework the way that we've approached plan and in our work at advancing eco agriculture is within this framework of delivering an immediate response so the first the foundational idea is that the biggest limiting factor to extraordinary plant growth and yield and quality is limited photosynthesis it's fairly well understood today by many people that what we have come to accept as being common and normal and routine is plants which are photosynthesizing at only about 15 to 20 percent of their capacity and when you can increase that photosynthetic capacity from 20% up to let's say 60% it completely changes a plant's performance you completely change the quality profile you completely change yield but you don't so when you what is in effect happening is you triple the sugar production every day and every 24 hour period but that of course doesn't have the necessary doesn't necessarily have the effect of tripling yields instead a for sure being produced or actually sent out through the root system to feed soil biology and you get this tremendous soil regeneration effect but all that is on the side the the most important driver for driving strong yields and strong economic response immediately is focusing on driving the photosynthesis piece so we started looking at this ask the question of what are the biggest limiting factors that limit photosynthesis and what we realized looking at photosynthesis when many agronomists and many growers when we immediately when we begin speaking about crop yields and managing health and quality the conversation quickly devolves to focusing on two possible pieces one is we focus on genetics and think about genetics and secondly we have a conversation about minerals and about nutrients how are we managing nitrogen and calcium and potassium and manganese and boron etc etc but in fact assuming of course that we have reasonably good genetics usually neither of those two are the limiting factors to increasing yields and increasing quality if there are other factors which are limiting photosynthesis from occurring from my perspective the first priority the number-one priority to manage is to make sure that we have a consistent supply of water you look at the photosynthesis process all it almost seems redundant and unnecessary and you ask the question why are we having a conversation about water but in reality at the moment a plant has a limited water supply is the moment photosynthesis stops or its greatly reduced in fact in most cases it would stop completely there's plant switches to build a respiration and so with the challenges that we have today with bakeries of the weather and climate etc I believe I know I'm speaking to a very broad group of growers and growing of diversity of crops in many different climates and environments and the it's going to become increasingly imperative to be able to manage and provide a consistent supply of water every 24-hour period every day we need to have a good water supply water consistency is extremely crucial as an example of this there's a tomato greenhouse that we were working with about five or six years ago in central Pennsylvania where the yields were about 12 to 13 pounds per plant with a variety that was producing 20 to 25 pounds per plant from neighboring farms similar environments similar conditions and this grower was irrigating once every three day or excuse me three times per week irrigating three times per week and putting on a fertigation of nutrients one time per week when he asked how he could increase yields to a higher level I told him that he didn't require any additional nutrients in additional nutrition but what was oxidative was a more consistent water supply and Moore's a consistent fertigation I described that the optimum is fertigation an application of both water and nutrients every day every 24 hours in an indoor environment he didn't want to do that so instead he switched to doing irrigation five times per week and fertigation three times per week which resulted in a yield bump exact same variety same nutritional protocols no substantial variation but resulted in a yield bump of an increase up to 18 to 20 pounds per plant that convinced him and the following year he put in a system to automate both the fertigation in the irrigation and that increased yields up to 25 to 27 pounds per plant so this was all just an effect of increasing water consistency the second priority that we need to really focus on is making sure that plants have an adequate supply of co2 carbon dioxide it's amazing to me I believe that plants when we have a really healthy crop that is growing well many of our crops have a chronically or chronically deficient in co2 and that we can substantially increase yields by making sure that we have strong co2 release with gas exchange from us low profile as an illustration as an example of this when we're working with plants in indoor environments I would say we're growing tomatoes in a greenhouse environment if we have two greenhouses that are exactly identical both growing the same variety same temperature same lighting same nutrients etc then if we take one of those greenhouses and we increase the carbon dioxide concentration so one will have the background ambient co2 of 350 parts per million plus or minus and the second we increase the co2 to 1,100 parts per million we get double the plant biomass and double the yield cific by increasing carbon dioxide in a growing cornfield in on a June or July morning when you have the presence of enough sunlight and water etc for a good photosynthesis we have corn plants so the actually there's a couple of points here so we have this gas exchange that happens with the soil where the earth has this natural 24-hour circadian rhythm of inhaling and exhaling once per cycle so there is this natural inhaling process that happens in the evening and exhaling that happens in the morning so gas and air moves down into the soil profile in the evening and then moves out of the soil profile of morning what this means is that in early morning so in the evening you have nitrogen and oxygen moving down into the soil and in the morning you have carbon dioxide being released from the soil both perhaps as a result partially as a result of oxidation of carbon dioxide or of carbon and organic material in the soil being oxidized as carbon dioxide or as a result of microbial respiration so you had these particularly high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the bottom couple inches of the air column very close to the soil surface you had this abundance of carbon dioxide in the morning and this obviously can vary quite a bit based on the presence of organic materials the presence of biology microbial respiration etc baby it can be as high as 14 to 15 hundred parts per million in some cases even higher whereas the background air ambient atmosphere can be in the neighborhood of 350 to 400 parts per million depending on where and when you measure when you look at this a cornfield that is growing on a warm July morning which has this should have this abundance of carbon dioxide that was released by gas exchange with the soil overnight you now can have a growing corn field that is a couple of feet tall can completely suck all that carbon dioxide out of the air and deplete co2 levels in the in the local environment down to under 100 parts per million in a couple of hours two to three hours time you can rapidly deplete carbon dioxide in the environment so that means that for the rest of that day the rest of that growing period the limiting factor for that corn plant is not water it's not sunlight it's not minerals its co2 and I think this speaks to one of the fundamental pieces that we haven't understood how that thought about regarding organic matter when I ask the question why do we want to have high organic matter why do we want to have high organic matter soils there are there are many different answers to that question that I hear that we want to provide a home for biology we want to provide a food source for biology we want to be to increase soil structure and soil water holding capacity all of those are good answers all those are correct but I think we've missed the most fundamental piece which is that the reason we want to have high organic matter soils the reason we want to have high organic matter is so that we can lose it we want to lose it as carbon dioxide through microbial respiration when we have a green growing plant that can absorb the carbon dioxide obviously we don't want to lose organic matter as co2 and release it into the atmosphere when there's no plans to absorb it that's a loss of carbon from the we want our systems to sequester carbon but we do need to have this active functioning carbon cycle where carbon is released from soul or organic matter and is rapidly absorbed by green growing plants where this effectively sequestered been transferred back into a soil and even more is captured than what was actually released from a soil profile originally so which is the entire conversation around carbon sequestration etc so the most important reason to have organic matter is so that you can lose it while you have a green growing crop this is how you achieve exceptional plant health and yield and quality etc all the things that we want to achieve the third important priority to deliver a strong economic crop response is to make sure that we have proper quality sunlight and this is worth mentioning in the context of environments where we have extensive periods of very high temperatures and directed sunlight I think increasingly in the future we will see and it's already beginning to happen we will see crops be shaded with shade cloth and nets etc because when we have too much sunlight or too intense sunlight we actually increase leaf temperature to a point where the leaves are dominated by photorespiration instead of photosynthesis so this is there is when you have as plant health increases let me let me I add one more thought here as plant health increases you don't as planned health increases a limited supply of sunlight is seldom a limiting factor practically never because as plant health increases you get increased density of trichomes these leaf hairs on the leaf surface and on the stems and these trichomes are photon receptors particular photon receptors in the infrared spectrum which means that the plant can absorb photons and can continue the photosynthesis process purely based on info radiation which is abundant in the atmosphere and in the environment constantly which means that really photosynthesis never stops photosynthesis can continue straight through the night the qualifier is that that only happens on healthier plants which have high densities and trichomes particular trichomes as we get into this entire conversation about liquid concentrations and and the integrity of leaf surface membranes and plants functioning as an as an antenna etc etc the key point being that there is when what the crop there is so much funs with not having enough sunlight there is sometimes a challenge with having too much sunlight then the fourth priority the fourth area to really increase photosynthesis and deliver an immediate economic crop response is to there's there's two pieces a combination of two pieces one is foliar applications of minerals it's a specific group of minerals that increase photosynthesis and the second partner application is applications of inoculants to the root system particularly at planting or transplanting so let me talk about each of these foliar applications of mineral I'm speaking and not about minerals and nutrients in general but for very specific nutrients these four nutrients are this is a good spot to be taking notes the first is nitrogen the second is magnesium the third is iron and the fourth is manganese the emphasis and the focus on these four nutrients is because of their direct role in the photosynthesis process magnesium center ion and the chlorophyll molecule surrounded by four elements of nitrogen four atoms of nitrogen so the core of chlorophyll is magnesium surrounded by four nitrogen interestingly enough the hemoglobin molecule in our blood is an exact analog of chlorophyll with one difference the center of clora the center of hemoglobin is iron surrounded by a four nitrogen's quare chlorophyll is is magnesium surrounded by four nitrogen's other than that the compounds are identical which I find to be really intriguing the the third so I spoke about magnesium and and nitrogen and magnesium the third element which I mentioned he is iron so iron is not a part of chlorophyll but iron plays a critical role in photosynthesis in two ways one is it is the wrench that is responsible for putting chlorophyll together and secondly it is the foundational enzyme cofactor that is at the foundation of the carotenoid photon receptor pathway so chlorophyll in and of itself collects only a very small part of the available light spectrum and then there is all this range all these range of carotenoids such as astaxanthin and zeaxanthin etc which also absorb a very small segment of the light spectrum and when you combine all of them together they collect a much greater bandwidth of the available light and then channel that into chlorophyll for increased photosynthesis so these first three elements if I ask the question what are the nutrients which make a plant dark green if I ask that when I ask that question to a primarily agricultural audience the answer is nitrogen we know that we put on hydrogen on a corn crop and it turns dark green when I ask that question to people in the horticulture space who are growing petunias and hydrangeas then the answer is magnesium we know that when we apply magnesium we get this very dark green leaf effect I want to ask that question to landscapers and people in the turf industry golf courses etc the answer is iron in reality all three of those nutrients are having producing the same effect they are all increasing chlorophyll concentrations within the leaf so it's possible to increase chlorophyll concentrations by as much as three to four times and which is one of the foundational contributing factors that can really increase photosynthesis volume then there's the fourth nutrient the fourth nutrient is manganese manganese is perhaps the most important on the list and the most chronically and systemic leak deficient the reason manganese is so important is because during the photosynthesis process the very first thing that happens is when water is absorbed from the soil profile and moved into the leaves the first step is water hydrolysis water molecule of h2o gets split into H and O H the process of water hydrolysis splitting the water molecule is completely dependent on manganese so this means you can have an abundance of water and abundance of co2 adequate sunlight very strong amounts of chlorophyll but if you don't have it on manganese and the water molecule doesn't get split that is your blocker that's your gateway that is limiting your total photosynthesis volume and 99% of all the SAP analysis reports that we see coming back are chronically deficient in manganese unless the grower is directly applying manganese to counteract it and this is true because of the oxidation reduction phenomenon and what is happening in soil profiles so again the list of for nutrients to address in foliar applications is hydrogen magnesium iron and manganese those are the big four that really need to be addressed consistently now you don't I'm not suggesting that you need to apply each of those four I'm suggesting that you need to make certain that plants have enough of each of those four so if you have enough nitrogen you don't need to add any more you need to add whatever else is necessary to bring that photosynthetic machinery up to a much higher level of performance what we have observed from experience is that most growers are deficient in iron and manganese that we get a very strong crop response from applying those two now you might ask the question how do I know if I have enough given that many soils have enough iron and often have enough manganese and yet plants are chronically deficient there's a very simple very simple tests that you can do first of all iron hydrogen obviously is fairly available the desired form is either an amino acid nitrogen or urea for most crops as a foliar spray magnesium is relatively easy to apply as preferably as magnesium sulfate magnesium chloride can also be an option in small doses on most crops manganese and iron need to be applied in the reduced form as a chelate so you need to apply a chelated form of manganese that is derived from most commonly manganese sulfate there's other reduced forms available as well but manganese sulfate based chelate that is then chelated with an organic gas that aren't amino acid or whatever the case might be because plants can only absorb and can only utilize manganese and iron in the reduced form and if they're not chelated and they're sprayed on the plant lead surface they switch from the reduced form to the oxidized form so this is was one of the driving factors behind us developing our rebound line of trace minerals rebound iron and rebound manganese was to be able to make sure that we had a very plant absorbable form the second part of this stage four of the fourth priority is putting on biological inoculants at planting or at transplanting and I'm using the biological inoculants category as a very broad brushstroke to include both my trowel fungi bacteria fungi and whatever might be appropriate in a synergistic stack now these two applications the foliar applications of these four minerals and foliar applications of biologicals or excuse me I misspoke soil and root applications of biologicals at early stages of plant development are the two applications which most consistently produced the greatest economic response for growers they deliver very strongly and very quickly I had a bit of a lost my train of thought there for a moment a few moments ago now something is coming back to me that I wanted to mention regarding the foliar applications of nutrients how do you determine whether you need it there's the obvious solution which is and the professional solution is to use a SAP analysis and to measure what is actually present in your plants and being able to see very clearly and very precisely exactly what's happening on what's going on a very simple and yet very effective solution is also to put on an application and check crop response with a refractometer so let's say you think your crop might not have enough iron or might have had enough manganese you can put on a small you can put a small amount of chelated iron or manganese into just a small bottle sprayer and spray a couple of plants maybe a four six eight foot diameter circle and then come back with a refractometer and test the treated area versus the untreated area in about 30 minutes it's not going to take very long in about 30 minutes you should have an increased Brix reading where you apply to the product when you if you have an increased Brix reading that will indicate that the plant needs whatever was applied and will benefit from whatever was apply it if you don't get any brakes reading and the plant doesn't need it you're not going to get an increased crop response until response so that can be a very simple quick and dirty test in a field it takes a little bit of time to expend of energy but it can be a very effective test to determine the effectiveness of a foliar spray before it's actually applied you can do that with individual nutrients you can do it with a cocktail accommodation you can even do that with a tank mix that you want to apply to a crop and you can actually test the effectiveness of a foliar application before it's actually applied you notice something really interesting mineral applications and biologicals didn't make it onto the list of priorities until priority for the first three priorities to address were not minerals and they weren't biologicals they were all other pieces that have a bigger impact on photosynthesis priority 5 is using cover crops and keeping your soils constantly covered to harvest as much co2 as possible and to build a very strong soil microbial community priority 6 is using soil amendments of minerals and rock powders it's that we're using limestone and rock phosphate and gypsum and whatever the case might be so in terms of delivering the maximum economic crop response the greatest crop response as quickly as possible the management priorities need to be number one make sure that you manage water and deliver water as consistently as possible number two make sure that you supply adequate carbon dioxide number three manage sunlight if you are in an area where you possibly have excessive or too intense sunlight and increase leaf temperatures and by the way failed to mention this but leaf temperatures is not ambient air temperature is specifically leaf temperature leaves switch from photosynthesis to photorespiration on c3 photosynthetic pathway plants at about 76 degrees Fahrenheit and on c4 plants it's about 86 degrees Fahrenheit if I understand it correctly fourth priority is foliar applications of those four mineral elements and applications of biologicals the fifth priority is cover crops and six priority is soil amendments so cover crops the soil amendments take the longest to deliver any economic risk response and their lowest on the priority list I sometimes get asked the question well if those are the lows in the priority list and I'm dealing with a really challenged soil something new farm that I just started managing are used I think that I shouldn't do soil amendments and that I shouldn't do cover crops even when my soils are very challenged and are completely out of whack from a chemistry perspective no that's not what I'm saying I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't apply soil amendments and cover crops but I'm suggesting that you should first make certain that you address all of these other pieces and then in conjunction with those other pieces you can also add soil amendments and cover crops or whatever else you chose to add to the mix but if you focus only on soil amendments and cover crops and you don't include the biological inoculants and the foliar applications you know manage carbon dioxide you don't manage water etc except if you don't manage those other initial pieces first you will have the effect of regenerating soil health and developing plant health over an extended period of time but you will not consistently and reliably deliver a strong economic performance from the get-go it takes longer to see returns from cover crops and from soil amendments than it does from those other pieces which deliver such an immediate economic crop response so the the second framework is let me just clarify this first framework that I described this sequence of six priorities is when you want to deliver maximum economic performance and while delivering maximum economic performance you want to also regenerate soil health and rebuild soil health over time so it's not an either/or conversation you get to regenerate and rebuild soil health and you get to have maximum economic returns right from the get-go then the second framework that I've seen some farmers and growers and managers choose is to say that you know we don't need to have strong immediate economic results instead we want to focus on longer-term soil regeneration and regenerating the entire farm so if that is your mindset if that's the pathway that you chose and this is sometimes appropriate for some environments and some crops if your grazing grass-fed livestock in a zone with 8 inches of rainfall you know and this might make sense for you what do you have limited economic resources so I've identified a series of for a set of four priorities a sequence of four priorities for these types of environments and managers the first priority is and I partnered it up again there's two pieces that are come synergistic and complementary that kind of need to be used together the first is water and cover crops so again you need to make certain that your soils are constantly covered that you're constantly harvesting sunlight and collecting co2 and secondly you need to make sure that you have as consistent of water supply and that you keep all the water that you get and you store and manage water very well the second priority for these ecosystems is that you need to add livestock I've found it really intriguing in with the guests that I have posted on the podcast many people with a lot more experience than I do Michael McNeil and Geri Hatfield and Gabe brown and others all referenced the fact that you could do many things with soil you could use different types of fertilizers different types of soil amendments but soils would only change in a limited fashion until you changed until you added livestock and once you add a livestock the entire slow microbial population would shift and soil health would begin radically improving now from my perspective livestock are not only the four-footed for variety they can also be the biology and soil profile so I would add that this is particularly true particularly relevant for environments and ecosystems where we don't have the presence of livestock fruit and vegetable production and dry land cranes etc that we can add biological inoculants to men and imitate a great deal perhaps all of the effect of that cattle have on the landscape as well so the second priority from my perspective once we've addressed water once we've addressed how to keeping the slope covered all the time the second priority is adding livestock back into landscape or adding biologicals the third priority in these ecosystems and these management styles is adding foliar applications of nutrients for all the reasons that I mentioned when I was describing delivering a maximum economic response even if you want to have a long term regenerative effect the greatest effect on long term regeneration comes from foliar applications of nutrients which spike and trigger photosynthesis and result in sequestering and rapidly increasing carbon deposits and the carbon profile in the soil and then the fourth priority is soil amendments of any nutrients specifically of any nutrients or missing or minerals which are missing in the soils native geological profile the reality is that on some soil native soils simply don't contain some of the minerals that are needed that are necessary in an adequate amount we know that many soils are deficient in molybdenum for example or in boron so adding those necessary soil amendments can also give us a very substantial crop response and again if you notice the sequence of priorities soil amendments is at the bottom of the list for both of these categories and so I think there has been particularly in the domain of biological and organic agriculture there has been an emphasis on the application of foliar applications of nutrient excuse me and the application of salt amendments largely because that has been the resources that we've had able been able to work with historically but they are not the tools which they don't give us the greatest economic response and they also don't lead the most efficiently and the most effectively to long-term regenerative ecosystems so those are the thoughts that I wanted to share I'll add a bonus thought which is that in in our experience of implementing these systems and putting them together on farms we get the greatest crop responses when we use what I have termed synergistic stacks so a synergistic stack is when you include different types of products into the same application or at the same application window so I'll give you one example and there's many possible examples it's just kind of limited by your imagination but one example might be that you have you add a bacterial inoculant to the rhizosphere that has maybe you have a 20 different species or strains of bacteria that have the effect of increasing appliance immunity increasing water and nutrient availability triggering a SAR effect etc etc fixing fixing nitrogen and absorb and mineralizing phosphorus in the soil profile and so forth you combine that bacteria not go with a fungal inoculant let's say for the sake of discussion mycorrhizae fungi so when you stack the two of those together you will usually get a much greater crop response and if you do either one of them by itself third you might add a microbial biostimulant such as a human substance or seaweed that will have the effect of increasing the effects of those biological inoculants even more fourth you might add a nutritional product to increase the plants nutritional integrity such as magnesium and iron and manganese you add those nutrients now you're going to increase the plants photosynthesis and the result will be a greater quantity of sugar sent out through the roots as redacted aids to feed soil biology and now again you get a greater biological response and then fifth you might also add a plant biostimulant instead of a microbial biosimilar you might add a plant biostimulant such as again see we would fit in here or plant hormones such as cytokinins our central fatty acids some amino acids that you could add so there's there's you could add a plant biostimulant a plant nutrient and a microbial biostimulant and bacterial and fungal inoculants so those would be what we term a synergistic stack and when you put together a synergistic stacks like that where you select products from completely different categories and put them together there it is very much a case where one plus one does not equal two often in biological systems when you combine these different materials one plus one equals eleven and you end up getting this very pronounced effect that is much greater than you would expect from adding those products from adding any of those products individually so those are those are the thoughts that I wanted to share I do have an announcement as well and then I'd look to hear your questions so if you have any questions you can type them into the Q&A box down at the bottom of your screen and I'll go through those questions and answer all of them as clearly and as well as I'm able I do have an announcement as well that I'm I've mentioned it a couple of times on webinars in the podcast in the last year or so I for some time been working on developing a series of online courses and I'm excited to announce that if all goes well as planned we are intending to launch those online courses at the end of January so you'll be able to find those at Academy region AG and sign up for it to get all the announcements about when we actually launch we will be launching on January 21st with the three initial courses and we hope to release it and we intend to release additional courses over time so we've been sharing a lot of information on our webinars and on our podcasts about some of the things that we've learned and the systems and the tools that we've put together but there is there's often a tremendous a lot of background knowledge a lot of background information that is simply too much information too much background to put into a one-hour webinar to put into a 30-minute conversation so the intent for the online courses is to do a really deep dive into the science and clearly describe the science behind how we put together folio recommendations for nutri of nutrients for example or the the science and the biochemistry in the plant physiology that is happening within the plant health period minute as we see plant health evolving and becoming resistant to different types of diseases and insects at different stages of development so I'm really excited by the development of these online courses because I think they'll offer a more in-depth look we wanted to make that information openly available to everyone so please by all means we'd love for you to go to the website sign up give us your email address and we'll notify you the moment we launch and go live and you'll be able to access those online so I want to thank all of you for being here tonight and for participating in the webinar as well so I'm going to switch to questions couple coming through David Whitman hi David glad to see you here question do you foliar spray late in the evening example 7:00 p.m. to midnight what we've observed is greatest plant absorption of nutrients occurs in about the same time window as a peak cell division which is from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. in the morning and for that reason we typically prefer to put on foliar applications later in the day so that they are still present on a leaf surface in the liquid form when we get to that 3:00 a.m. to 8 a.m. window in general we tend to see much better crop responses with evening applications than we do with morning applications it's a very good question David thank you Elden teason ask the question how do you measure soil co2 what are optimum levels and how is it modified Elden this is a good question that I don't I don't know the answer to um I know that you can there are today there are measurement tools such as the so beta test which measures soil respiration and there's also the painting lab analysis which also measures the soils capacity to release carbon dioxide those would probably be the two tools that I know of the best that can measure soil carbon dioxide but I'm not sure we know the answer to what are the optimum levels there there are essentially two ways that carbon dioxide is released from the slow profile and that they're completely different one of them is when you have a release of co2 as a result of oxidation the introduction of oxygen into the soil so farmers from an earlier generation would describe how when they could go out to cultivate corn you cultivate corn and you get this very rapid and immediate crop flush there's flush growth response where you get very rapid growth for the next three to four days after cultivation and this has long been described as a nitrogen response but that's not a nitrogen response that is a co2 response where you have cultivation introducing a lot of oxygen into the soil oxidizing organic matter and releasing it as co2 the plants are in a very rich co2 environment and so they grow very very rapidly they photosynthesize very efficiently and very effectively so that's the co2 response and there's another story about co2 Don Huber mentioned on one of the podcasts that they were able to consistently produce on a field scale in the late 70s 78 79 if I recall correctly we're producing 450 plus bushels per acre corn on a field scale their ki don't recall if Don mentioned on the podcast or perhaps in a private conversation he said that you can push yields with nutrients with fertilizer up to about 300 bushel per acre 280 to 300 bushel per acre and past that threshold the limiting factor is carbon dioxide not nutrients and you can continue to increase yields past that threshold when you make sure that you address carbon dioxide well the second pathway and the pathway that they were using to produce such large quantities of co2 and maintain them through the season is through microbial respiration so when you have high organic matter content soils and abundant biology that biology will release co2 throughout the growing period that's really what you want to have happening and that's how you increase co2 levels in a sustainable and regenerative fashion for the long term it's good question thank you for asking you know one Gloria Brown asked the question is ordinary manganese sulfate totally useless as a full-year application or is it just less efficient than the reduced form so here's what happens so first of all manganese sulfate is actually in the reduced form it is in the correct form when it is in the bag then when you put manganese sulfate into a spray tank you mix it with water and you salt it soluble eyes it it is still in the reduced form when you spray it onto the leaf surface in with very fine droplets and those fine droplets dry out on a leaf surface when they dry out the manganese gets exposed to the oxygen in the air and it oxidizes and it converts back to the oxidized form once it lands on the lead surface and the plants do not absorb it so in order to prevent that conversion process that oxidation process from happening the manganese needs to be chelated when it is on the leaf surface thanks Lori Harry Snyder is there an economical way to measure the co2 level around a plant in the field and that Jerry I think the the answer to that question is with the Salida meter which can measure you to release and carbon dioxide released so I'm I don't personally have experience with the meter don't have a lot of perspective or tips to offer on it but I know a number of people who are using it and are intrigued by what they're learning you know what they're observing I think it is a very accurate metric Anthony Griffith asked the question for the second framework for longer-term development of soil you mentioned animals or biologicals can you give an example of biologicals spectrum and second how is a simple way to know what the biologicals are working do you have to do a soil test so Anthony these are these are both good questions when I referred to biologicals kind of our gold standard at this point there are some other very interesting biological developments that are happening there's a lot of research happening this space by many different companies right now and I'm very intrigued by some of the research that is emerging but at this point the gold standard for us is spectrum and we use spectrum on I think just about every acre that we work on and every fund that we work on so that is kind of our standard because we know it performs consistently and reliably how do you know if the biologicals are working the way you know the biologicals are working is through respiration and the release of co2 the silmido metric can be one way of measuring and monitoring microbial activity and the second and a test that I personally would favor is the Haney analysis which is being conducted by both wart labs and Midwest labs that I know of I think Ward labs is running the most recent version the most recent iteration Rick Haney has continued to develop and iterate on that test since he originally developed it and I'm certain there's probably other laboratories around the country that are measuring or running this assay as well I'm just not certain of who they are who they might be and I think that the Haney analysis is the least inconsistent of all the biological assays and it correlates the most accurate in the most statistically with what we actually see happening in the field so it's it's the test that I personally would favor um young Meredith asked the question is there anything else that determines when a plant switches between photosynthesis and photorespiration other than temperature what can we do to extend photosynthesis longer other than things like shade cloth do healthy plants give a few degrees more John you asked some awesome questions here so the it's my understanding that the key determining factor between photosynthesis and photorespiration is leaf temperature so not ambient temperature but leaf temperature now of course leaf temperature is determined by a lot of other factors is determined obviously by exposure to sunlight by air temperature by the presence of water having adequate water supply there's there's various factors that will contribute to that switch and there's things that you can do other than shade cloth to keep them cool for example in the Pacific Northwest many growers have historically used sprinkler irrigation because they've had an abundant supply of clean and high-quality water so sprinkler irrigation and misting to cool leaves down and cool plants down that obviously has other has the potential for other unintended consequences as well and many growers are actually moving away from sprinklers towards shade cloth because of the effect that all the water application has on soil health but your last question I think is the really important question do healthy plants have a few degrees more of a buffer and the answer is that healthy plants stay cooler a lot longer and specifically in this case it's our observation that when you have plants that have a high lipid content when you start and when you're able to visually observe the glossy waxy shield Oh maxie leaf membrane lost you wax your leaf surface in the field then a couple of interesting things seem to happen first of all and these are a connection of dots and hypothesis and amalgamation of thoughts and things that I've observed over the years one is we know for certain that plants which had this glossy waxy Ceylonese surface stay cooler a lot longer why exactly does that happen it seems not only does it seem that they stay cooler much longer it also seems they use less water so I suspect that that glossy waxy sheen on the leaf surface is very good at reflecting heat it's better at reflecting heat and therefore the leaf stays cooler for an extended period and also because you have this glassy and membrane on the lessor of us I suspect that it changes the way plants utilized water and it actually needs to use less water for transpiration and for cooling so it definitely is true I can say from field experience it definitely is true to healthier plants remain in the photosynthesis mode much longer in warmer environments and unhealthy plants it's a really great question I think and it's a question that we have some field experience around but there's a lot more research that needs to be done to to understand this phenomena better and to look at what is happening with plants when they are in different states of health different qualitative states in different environments Greg asked the question and it's still safe to apply a typical nutrient mix as a full-year application for wine grapes if the weather for the next day is expected to be very hot say above 95 degrees Fahrenheit I always apply foliar nutrients after 5:00 p.m. so Greg I would say that assuming that the nutrient mix that you're applying is safe for cooler temperatures then yes it will generally be safe for warmer temperatures as well however the key difference is that it won't be absorbed as effectively because peak absorption of nutrients from foliar applications really occurs while that droplet remains liquid on the leaf surface so in environments where you have lower temperatures or higher humidity or where you have a foyer application a foliar blend of new trees the sprite spray tank which has a high point of deliquescent then you have the effect of maintaining a liquid droplet on the lead surface for a much longer period of time and the environment that you describe when you have really high temperatures the moment that droplet dries out the nutrient absorption curve slows down tremendously it doesn't completely stop but it does slow down now I want to add a qualifier to what I just said nutrient absorption from a foliar spray on the leaf surface occurs rapidly when the droplet is in the liquid form when we are referring to simple ions and molecules being absorbed such as urea for example or magnesium chloride so when you have simple ionic solutions plants need those ionic solutions to remain somewhat water-soluble but there is another pathway for delivery of nutrients into the cells and into the leaves and that is through the process of microbial digestion from the bacterial population on a phyllo plane which has a symbiotic relationship with the plant similar to the microbial population in the rhizosphere so when you have a very active bacterial population they can actually consume minerals that were applied on the leaf surface and make them available to plants challenges that that delivery mechanism is a lot slower a lot takes a lot longer and we typically see we see the response we see the effect showing up on a SAP analysis so we don't often see the the flash bang crop response that we do with more simple nutrient solutions david whitman asks a question I'm seeing fields that have six rows of corn and six rows of soybeans or wheat between the corn corn yields go up is this from being able to utilize more sunlight and capture more co2 David the short answer is yes you see a very pronounced edge effect in fact a number of growers that we've been working with I'm sure you've perhaps observe this as well they're increasing the plant population in the outside rows quite substantially to be able to capture more that sunlight and more than co2 that is not being harvested by the other crop which is less efficient so that that yield increase is essentially coming from increased sunlight capture and perhaps to some degree increased co2 absorption as well that would be correct Laurie asked the question would would I keep the high priority for this co2 in the case of fruit trees and bushes like we do for field crops the answer is absolutely yes co2 is also the biggest limiting factor for a lot of fruit and vegetable crops as well because they are also very efficient at absorbing carbon dioxide and generally the soils on which tree fruit and bushes and vegetable crops are being grown deliver less co2 than agronomic soils because they're not being tilled and not being oxidized Stephen asked the question is it possible to harvest co2 from the soil for robust crop growth while also sequestering organic matter to maintain and getting matter level in soil or does it need to be regained in the offseason with cover cropping Stephen this is a great question and the answer is that a healthy crop by itself was say in the case of a perennial crop will or even the case of annual crops a healthy crop should absorb all of the co2 that is released from the soil profile in addition to co2 that also occurs in the ambient air temperature so you should have a net gain as long as the soil is covered with green photosynthesizing plants there should be a continual positive net game it's when the soil is bare and there are no green plants that you lose carbon dioxide from the soil that you can't it's a very good question um Malcolm asked the question hi Malcolm is there a single tool that can measure multiple nutrients using SAP not that I'm aware of there's obviously the cardi meters but at this moment I'm not aware of a tool that is in the marketplace that committer multiple nutrients it's only the laboratory analysis through crop health labs that I'm aware of that is doing that reliably and consistently there's one question here I think I did think that I reviewed this white Dr Robert asked the question please review the six principles I thought I did repeat them twice but I'll go I'll give you an abbreviated bullet point list once more first priority water second priority is carbon dioxide third priority is managing sunlight the fourth priority is full-year applications of for mineral nutrients nitrogen magnesium iron and manganese and the second part two of the fourth priority is biologicals in the red stone in the to the root system fifth priority is cover crops and a sixth priority of salt amendments and will actually include that you can always go back and listen to this recording again when we post it on youtube and we're going to make it generally available as well dean asked the question it's only a few questions left I want to be respectful everyone's time and will drop off are there benefits of feeding the microbial life with soil amendments or does the plant through the roots apply sufficient energy there may be benefits of using a biostimulant to perhaps kick-start microbial populations but the reality is that when you have healthy plants they deliver more sugar and more energy than you can ever hope to compete with with compost applications or any other applications and I had this exercise that I go through doing the math when I teach live courses and I think I might have done it perhaps some other webinars I forget which one or if I even did I speak about it fairly frequently but the foundational idea is that when you increase the plants photosynthesis from 20% to 60% of its Fotis photosynthetic capacity you triple the sugar production every day but you don't get triple the plant biomass and you don't get triple the yield what happens is that the majority of that additional sugar production gets sent out through the root system to feed cell biology and when you convert that tripling that conversion from 20% to 60% to actual pounds per acre of carbohydrates produced and transferred into the soil on a corn crop you get something like 15,000 pounds of carbohydrates not carbon but carbohydrates transferred out through the root system to feed soil biology you cannot economically afford to compete with that you can't put on enough compost or molasses or another enough other bio microbial foods to compete with well what a corn plant can deliver so in in from my perspective the first priority should be to grow really healthy plants and that is going to feed biology Anthony mentioned that I talked about the high probability having a deficiency of manganese and iron most crops are almost universally deficient even when soils have an abundance of iron and some cases they may have a deficiency of manganese as well or adequate manganese supply the reason for this is because iron and manganese exist in the soil and what are termed different oxidation states so let's if you take an iron nail and you expose it to the elements to rain and sunlight and oxygen it begins rusting and that rust is oxidized iron so iron can exist in a soil profile in what is termed by the reduced form or in the oxidized form but the oxidized form plants can absorb the oxidized form but it is not physiologically active within the plant structure it's essentially in the form of rust inside the plant so you will see that on a soil analysis and on a dry matter or tissue analysis using wet chemistry iron levels will generally show up as being high you'll often see iron levels being very high on the soil analysis being very high on our tissue analysis and yet the plants are actually functionally iron deficient because the iron that is present isn't physiologically active and you can demonstrate this by the tests that I described with you put on a small amount of an iron chelate as a foliar and you get this immediate Brix reading response which means that the plant benefited from and needed that additional iron so it is the function of soil biology to convert the oxidized iron and the oxidized manganese back into the reduced form but that of course requires the right plants the right environment and that's a whole conversation in and of itself which I've addressed in some of the webinars if I'm not mistaken if not gonna need to go into into it more in depth but it's a very in-depth topic that is it's very important to understand that we typically have iron and manganese deficiencies and then the follow-up question that is have observed that this is a function of soil pH being too high or is it independent of soil pH the answer is that it is independent of soil pH in biological systems there are sometimes a correlation where you have high PHS you tend to also have more oxidized soils but it's really it's the pH is the tail that's wagging the dog in this case what is really what's usually driving those high PHS is high levels of carbonates and bicarbonates being supplied from irrigation water or because the soil natively has high levels of carbonates and those carbonates and bicarbonates have an oxidizing effect similarly to having a high pH driving effect so they are the ones that are driving affect it's there's not a direct correlation with PA it's not a function of soil pH so it's possible to have a reduced environment that is either acidic or alkaline it's possible to have an oxidized environment that is either acidic or alkaline David Whitman asks a question do you feel that applying elemental sulfur as a soil amendment increases the health of the biology in the soil um it can be a short-term detriment in the immediate localized zone where you have high concentrations of elemental sulfur being converted to fire sulfates into sulfuric acid but long term I think it has the potential to be a benefit particularly if the soil doesn't have adequate sulfur in the first place and there is a direct correlation between sulfur supply and a soils capacity to develop stable long term humic substances when you have long term in order to form the long term he makes something you need to have out of a solver a one more question Brian asked the question when have you or do you foresee conventional applications combined with regenerative applications in creating more economic impact and quality plant growth Brian I would say that from my perspective the answer between the dividing line between conventional applications and regenerative applications is becoming very blurry and fuzzy and virtually non-existent in reality so I it's not so much the application it is the purpose of the application for what intent to what intent is being applied the timing of application etc so I don't really see there being a substantial difference you can apply urea in a in a manner that it has a beneficial effect and can help regenerate soil and plant health or in a manner that it can degenerate soil and plant health based on the qualities that are applied the timing and the point at which it is applied so it's not so much the the type of material as it is the positioning and how it's used I want to thank all of you for participating tonight I've enjoyed the webinar and I hope that you have as well you asked really great questions thanks for the feedback the interaction I really enjoyed it and I look forward to speaking with you next time have an awesome evening Thanks

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10 thoughts on “Cultural and Nutritional Management Priorities

  1. Thank you so much for these webinars, John!
    In "Changing Agronomy With Biology Webinar" at around 34:40 you mention that in some cases, correcting nutrient imbalances (Ca:Mg, Na) is required in order to achieve the soil aggregate structure needed for biology to thrive and to have a good gas exchance. Does this belong into the 6th priority mentioned here, or should that be a prerequisite consideration?

  2. These are wonderful videos. People at my church think I am amazing. I just tell them I am watching your videos.
    Koreans soak their seeds in water inoculants for up to 30 minutes before planting.

  3. I love these webinars and the incredible amount of knowledge you share always gives me brain overload, love it!. I had not seen anyone ask what is the smallest farm you work with remaining profitable?. Obviously you need to be paid but many of your followers have smaller operations. What is the tipping point for you?

  4. John, I have a question about the microbial respiration. Would it be the microbes breathe in air and release CO2 from the air they breathe? Or just that it is released from the carbon that is sequestered into the soil by root exudates and plant matter, ect.? I have always thought of it as the latter but talking about the inhalation in the evening and exhalation during the morning it has been wondering if the first question is also a part of the equation.

  5. Also, john, can you speak on bioferments ? What are your thoughts on them? Is extracting the N, FE & MNG from plant sources via anaerobic fermentation a viable ooption for someone who wishes to close the nutrient cycle further ?

  6. John, great webinar. I always learn so much. I have a question regarding leaf temperature. What are your thoughts on growing in polycultures as to intercropping/stratify production and provide shade ? Also have you done any work with agroforestry systems ? I am from the tropics and vegetables grown in agroforestry seem like a very economically viable ? Maybe you can point me to some case studies or research to answer these questions.

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