In wake of harvesting corn and other grain crops this season, farmers are left with the decision of how to handle the many acres of stubble debris that remains. The common practice of years past was to burn debris, or just till it into the soil and hope it would be gone before the next planting. More often than not this is not the case.
Today, burning is not allowed in many states due to the associated environmental concerns. Now, more often, stubble is cut or shredded and either left on the ground or sold as bedding for livestock. With fertilizer cost so high today it is not economically feasible to sell the stubble because it is worth more as a recycled fertilizer and carbon source for the soil.
Bio S.I. Technology has announced the arrival of their SD 25 stubble digester, just in time for post-harvest field preparation. Its formulation speeds up the process of natural breakdown and recycling of nutrients and carbon for the soil. Plus, it helps prepare fields for next season’s growth.
Residual stubble and roots are important sources of carbon and other nutrients, but the stubble must be broken down by soil microbes for contents such as nitrogen and phosphorous and other trace elements to be available for future growth. Stubble is most commonly associated with grain crops such as corn, sugar cane, wheat, barley and rye, which leave behind post-harvest debris between 6-14 inches high. SD 25 may be used for any plant debris from any crop like cotton, potatoes, sugar beets, melons and trees. If a soil is not active in microbial bacteria, tough debris from these crops won’t have the time or means to breakdown over winter. This equals a total of 1 to 2 tons of stubble per acre (depending on crop), and represents nutrient value from $60.00 to $175 per acre of fertilizer not being utilized in the proceeding growing season. SD 25 allows farmers to derive the true value from their stubble because it increases nutrient levels and the humus content of soil.
SD 25 maximizes the speed of decomposition with a proprietary mixture of cellulose digesting microbial fungi, a broad range of other naturally occurring microbes, and humic acid as an added source of carbon for the microbes. The cellulose degrading component is especially important because plant cell walls trap a majority of leftover nutrients.
Once the formula is applied, it takes between 60-75 days for debris to decompose and release its available nutrients, depending on the type and amount of stubble. Certain stubble has a longer timeframe for decomposition than others. As an example, corn leaves behind one of the coarsest, sturdiest stalks, especially since so much of the plant remains after harvest, taking up the full 75 days.
The optimum application time for SD 25 is immediately after post-harvest tilling has occurred. Tilling does not need to occur prior to application if it is not already part of a management program, but allows for greater surface area contact between the stubble and soil. In any case, 20 – 25 oz. of SD 25 must be mixed with a minimum of 10 gallons of water, per acre for even distribution. SD 25 is concentrated enough for single-application, however heavy stubble may require a 5-10 oz. increase in SD 25 per acre to maintain decomposition speed. It is important to apply the formula before any freeze occurs because microbial decomposition slows when bacteria are exposed to cold temperatures.
Founder of Bio S.I., Wayne Tucker, explains the benefit of adding SD 25 to a crop management program: “Prior to SD 25, our agriculture formulas have been multipurpose and supplement good soil health throughout crop growing cycles. SD 25 works beyond growing seasons to prepare fields for future planting by releasing the nutrients tied up in leftover debris. Plant debris can be a real problem for the next planting season for some growers. This helps farmers recycle nutrients they have already paid for plus the benefits of adding carbon (humus) to help hold water and nutrients in their fields.”
SD 25 is the latest addition to Bio S.I.’s extensive line of microbial inoculants.