Farmers are going to great lengths to manage corn residue. More corn-on-corn, less tillage and tougher stalks are all contributing to residue buildup.
The traditional approach has been to size it into smaller pieces and tie it down with soil. However this traditional practice isn’t working fast enough to satisfy grower expectations, particularly when they are dealing with Bt-corn that tends to have tougher stalks. That’s bringing a variety of new approaches to the market including some products that facilitate quicker residue breakdown.
Agricen, a Loveland Products Company, has introduced Accomplish LM, a biochemical product that speeds up nutrient release when sprayed over the top of crop residue.
“Our focus is unlocking nutrients stored in residue and we create tools to facilitate nutrient release,” said Brian Cornelious, director of Applied Sciences. “Crop residue protects the soil, provides carbon and releases nutrients but waiting for nature to achieve that can take time. And in the meantime, decomposition immobilizes nitrogen in the spring.”
Corn residues contain a lot of nutrients. According to the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), a ton of above-ground corn residue contains approximately 16 to 20 pounds of nitrogen (N), 5 to 6 pounds of phosphate (P), 40 to 45 pounds of potash (K), 5 to 6 pounds of calcium (Ca), 7.5 to 8.5 pounds of magnesium (Mg) and 2.5 to 3.5 pounds of sulfur (S). And a 200-bushel corn crop produces about 5 tons of above ground biomass so there are a lot of pounds of nutrients left in the field after harvest. Unfortunately most of those nutrients are tied up as part of the organic matter and aren’t immediately available and may not be available the next year.
Cornelious explained that Accomplish LM is a biochemical fertilizer catalyst that signals microbes to breakdown residue while at the same time, and separately, facilitating mineralization. He emphasized that this is particularly important because as temperatures cool down in the fall and microorganisms become less active, nutrients will continue to be mineralized both in the fall and spring until microbial activity begins again. This gives a jump-start on mineralization.
Accomplish LM can be applied in the early spring as well before microbes become active. Cornelious recommends adding 1 to 2 gallons of UAN (urea ammonium nitrate) as a source of nitrogen to overcome potential immobilization when the microbes become active in the spring and extra carbon and nutrients are available. “The natural population is working faster and needs more nitrogen than is readily available in the soil,” he said.
Accomplish LM technology is a proprietary blend of microbially derived biochemicals that enhance and emulate what microbes naturally do in the soil. “The products derive from a diverse community of organisms (fungi, bacteria, etc.) and are the same products microbes use when feeding on residue. This product stimulates the whole food chain involved in residue digestion.”
Accomplish LM is a liquid formulation, a “green” product with an organic label and can be applied in the spring or fall at a rate of 2 quarts per acre in 10 gallons of water. It can also be applied in-furrow at 1 to 2 pints per acre and in sidedress applications. However, it is not labeled for over-the-top applications on crops.