New, Patent-pending EXCAVATOR™ Formula Chalking Up Major-league Nutrient Release Numbers


“…significant residue reduction and up to 100 pounds more NPK…”

Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 17, 2022 – As fertilizer prices hit record highs, one company is helping farmers claw back nutrients they already bought with a new patent-pending, fast-acting biological to break down residue and release more nutrients for next season’s crop.

“Results show significant residue reduction inside two weeks, and up to 100 pounds more NPK and micronutrients for the next crop,” said Mitch Eviston, Meristem Founder and CEO, in announcing the new formulation of EXCAVATOR™ today. He added that EXCAVATOR™ and Meristem’s other new biologicals are part of the antidote for high fertilizer prices and can help farmers boost yields and beat inflation.

 “You’ve never backed away from a fight, so don’t start now,” he smiled. “Don’t send as much money to big fertilizer companies concerned more with Wall Street than your Main Street. I am so sure of EXCAVATOR’S in-field results, I’m shipping each of 700 farm businesses enough to treat 25 acres so they can test it on their own ground.” Eviston said illustrating real-field results is key.

“We’ve hired a small army of interns to visit those farms to pull soil tests to document results,” he said. “We are sure once farmers see the big ROI (return on investment), they will want EXCAVATOR on all their acres.”

Joe Gednalske, Meristem’s Senior Product Development Lead, said the proprietary surfactant blend quickly takes Excavator deep inside the pith of the residue. “That’s when our significant advantage in number of CFUs (colony forming units) is expressed, when those microbes wake up in the residue, multiply and begin their work.” Gednalske, whose name is on more than 30 other crop input patents, says another aspect of the product is its ability to tank-mix well with herbicides and remain stable through application all the way to its end use. 

“A unique surfactant combined with fulvic acid and six different microbes, all dormant and stable in liquid right up to the time they hit the residue,” Gednalske explained. “It’s new, it works very well, and we have a patent on the carrier system to make sure we can protect our idea.”

Justin Ogle, precision ag consultant, farmer and co-founder of Record Harvest, Nevada, Mo., has done some rigorous in-field testing with the new EXCAVATOR and said results from the new material have been quite impressive.

“It’s reducing residue a lot in just a couple weeks and that’s without any use of nitrogen as a carrier,” he explained. “Every field has its own story, but we’ve got soil test results showing its adding way more NPK to those treated acres than we expected. More than 40 pounds of nitrogen, and way more than 40 pounds of potassium in some fields.” Mitch Schrock was one of Record Harvest’s farmers cooperating with side-by-side tests in s 50-acre field.

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precision ag consultant, farmer and co-founder of Record Harvest, Nevada, MO

“I was a little skeptical we would see much of an increase, but I can’t argue with the numbers that came back from Midwest Lab,” says Schrock. “After that, I went ahead and sprayed another 200 acres with it last fall. On those acres, I won’t be adding any additional fertilizer in the spring – we will be able to avoid that expense.” He also plans to apply more EXCAVATOR with metribuzin in the spring. 

While fertilizer costs bring the nutrient value into sharp focus, Rob McClelland, Meristem President and CMO says that’s only a part of the overall ROI. He lists four ways farmers can expect to win, and while results will vary, they 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 added that 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, and biologicals are addressing that issue. There’s also an increased emphasis on soil health and carbon markets, as well as concerns 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 up more acres to innovative answers and help more farmers win with new technology.”

Eviston said he understands some farmers still are leery of “snake oil,” and that’s why Meristem is sending out so many 25-acre samples. “High-yield farmers need to begin trying out some of these new approaches – these new products – that will help you make the most of the nutrients you do buy. This is the perfect year to try a new approach,” he said, then shared a quick list:

  • “Of course, fight back by applying EXCAVATOR™ and releasing up to 40% more nutrients in time for early-season growth,” he said.  
  • “Then move away from blanket all-field fertilizer applications to more strip-till and in-furrow starters,” Eviston continues. “Field research with REVLINE HOPPER THROTTLE™ is demonstrating a 6 to 8 bushel per acre yield bump.”