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Nebraska Farmer and Spring-applied EXCAVATOR™:


“No More Trash Talk”

Better hybrids, higher plant populations and increasing yields are bringing a new challenge to many farmers: How do I handle all this trash, er…residue?

“No more trash talk,” smiles Fred Below, Ph.D., crop physiologist at the University of Illinois. ”Farmers need to respect the nutrient value of residue.” Below has calculated that 200 bushel/A. corn will produce 4.5 tons/A. of residue holding more than 200 pounds of NPK nutritional value per acre. “There’s just too much potential benefit to not take residue management seriously.”

Brian Herbek, W&J Farms of DeWeese, Neb., is a grain farmer who is taking that more serious approach. Herbek is strip-tiller, using the Soil Warrior from Environmental Tillage Systems (ETS). This past season, he applied a biological to his residue for the first time: EXCAVATOR™ from Meristem Crop Performance. He says he learned about EXCAVATOR™ through the ETS team and Ty Fickenscher of Upward Ag in nearby Axtell, Neb.

“Dry weather kept us from putting our pre-emerge herbicide down when we wanted,” he says, “that’s why we were late with our EXCAVATOR application.” Herbek says they got the EXCAVATOR on right at planting – “when we did get a little rain to get the crop in the ground,” he remembers. In the very early season he didn’t see much difference, “but then later in the season – like August – there was a noticeable difference in color. The treated acres were all gray – it was clear there was more biological activity going on.” After his spring-applied application, Herbek pulled samples at the 30- and 60-day mark to examine EXCAVATOR effect and inform more precise nutrient management.

“Everything we pulled from the treated area was substantially higher in P and K,” Herbek says. What impressed him most was the phosphorus level (P): “P levels were almost three times what they were in the control,” he says. Other results were good, too: Control, 418 PPM of K, compared with 594PPM in the treated. Calcium was higher. Zinc was higher.

“What it comes down to is it paid for the product with the extra bushels and the nutrients,” he says. “That was despite the weather impact. I’m looking forward to another year – I’m going to use it on my wheat stubble next year, too.”

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