Data Collection Begins For 688 On-farm Trials As EXCAVATOR™ Validation Moves to Phase Two


“EXCAVATOR Field Team” Fanning Out to Document the Power of New Patented Biological

As fertilizer prices hit record highs and set to stay there into the 2023 season, one company is pushing in-field testing to extremes. They are out to show farmers how to dig out nutrients they’ve already paid for and boost fertility for their next crop, year after year.

Earlier in the season, Meristem Crop Performance sent each of 688 growers across the Corn Belt enough EXCAVATOR™ to treat 25 acres. Now soil tests will be collected at those locations with results posted online. EXCAVATOR is Meristem’s new patented, innovative, fast-acting biological that breaks down residue and releases nutrients. Earlier trials have shown impressive results, with as much as 100 pounds of NPK and micronutrients gained. Now the company is gearing up to learn more and share what they learn.

“It’s the largest organized, real-world, in-field research effort ever done on a biological crop input,” explained Mitch Eviston, founder and CEO of Meristem in announcing the effort. “We’re out to prove how EXCAVATOR can make nutrients available and improve yield across a wide variety of soils and growing conditions. We want to show more farmers how to fight back against high fertilizer prices.”

To verify product use and impact, Meristem’s “EXCAVATOR Field Team” is set to visit farmers who’ve used the product across the U.S. from Nebraska to Maryland. At each participating farm, they will pull soil samples from treated 25-acre plots and nearby untreated control plots. They will also measure and compare stand counts to validate how EXCAVATOR decreases planter skips and promotes better germination and an even stand.

While fertilizer costs bring nutrient value into sharp focus, Rob McClelland, Meristem President and CMO, says that’s only a part of the overall return on investment (ROI) EXCAVATOR brings. Though he says results will certainly vary, he lists four ways farmers can expect to win that could easily tally up to $113/acre:

• Breaking down residue faster will allow faster planting with fewer skips: $25/A.

• More nutrients available early, 30-40lbs. N, 5-10lbs. P, 35-40lbs. K: $55/A.

• Lighter residue means one less pass: $18/A.

• Breaks down carbon and increases organic matter: $15/A.

McClelland says high fertilizer prices accelerate a convergence of emerging issues that make the timing perfect for innovative biological answers of all kinds.

“Stronger hybrids and increased plant populations mean more residue to manage. There’s also an increased emphasis on soil health and carbon markets, and concern for nutrient stewardship. We need biologicals to help us create the sort of sustainability we seek for American farmers – economic sustainability.” A key mission of Meristem is to open more acres to innovative answers, McClelland adds, and help more farmers win with new technology. As the EXCAVATOR Field Team conducts its work, results will be posted regularly on a map of all the locations at

With recent economic outlooks suggesting fertilizer prices will likely go even higher for next year’s crop, Eviston is expecting a lot of farmers will be looking for a way to gain a better ROI with EXCAVATOR. “When it comes to skyrocketing fertilizer prices, this is not a one and done sort of year,” he explains.

“Disruption from the Ukraine/Russia war will push prices higher in 2023 and make fertilizer hard to get. It’s time for farmers to gain more experience with alternatives and that’s why we are putting our money where our mouth is to demonstrate the power of EXCAVATOR.”