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Residue Management Comparison Image

Learn how PhycoTerra® can complement your Residue Management program

Fall is in the air, and harvest is in full swing across most of the U.S. We’re excited to announce PhycoTerra®, a superior soil microbial food, has recently received a label expansion for use in residue management! The same PhycoTerra® you’ve been using to stimulate your soil’s native beneficial microbes throughout the growing season has been proven as an effective post-harvest application to promote the decomposition of crop trash with savings across the board.

Why is residue management important?

PhycoTerra® 2 qt/a       vs       Grower Standard

Residue Management Comparison Image
PhycoTerra® + Glyphosate was applied in October 2020 post-harvest at 2 quarts per acre in Minot, ND. Compared to Grower Standard, you can visually see increased decomposition on the treated crop residue. Image was taken 5 months after application.

Residue management is more than clearing the field for future crops. Your residue management program may happen in the fall, but it sets the stage for the success and yield of your next season’s harvest. A holistic residue management program that addresses the physical, chemical and biological properties of your soil is the key to a great start in the spring.

Residue Management Options

An effective residue management program should be a priority, especially as higher yields can lead to larger amounts of crop residue.  Several program options exist for growers to choose from. Many growers till the residue back into their soil, while burning crop trash is another popular management option in some regions. For no-till and reduced-till growers, leaving the residue undisturbed on the field to promote soil health is their go-to residue management plan.

Each program type has pros and cons, which we’ll discuss below. Where soil health, optimal nutrient release and maximum crop residue decomposition are the goals, PhycoTerra® can be an excellent replacement or complement to these programs.

Till and Tractor

tilling field after harvest to break up crop residue

Pros

  • Effectively tills crop trash into soil in a short amount of time
  • Puts organic matter back in the soil
  • Ground is clear for precision planting in spring

Cons

  • Disturbs soil and releases carbon
  • Breaks up soil microbial communities, resulting in dormancy and reduced populations
  • Bare soil can lead to erosion / runoff
  • Nutrients locked up in residue
  • Expensive equipment / labor costs

 

Burn

controlled burn of crop residue

Pros

  • Effectively removes a large amount of crop residue in short amount of time
  • Cost-effective
  • Ground is clear for precision planting in spring

Cons

  • Key nutrients leave field – nitrogen & sulfur lost on combustion
  • Phosphorus & potassium lost to erosion / wind if ash are not immediately tilled into field
  • Bare soil can lead to erosion / runoff
  • Air quality issues
  • Learn more about the real cost of burning crop residue when it comes to nutrients.

 

Leave

leaving field as is after harvest - crop residue

Pros

  • Cover on field prevents wind / water erosion
  • Traps carbon / releases back into soil upon decomp
  • Residue NPK recycled back into soil upon decomp
  • Cost effective

Cons

  • Post-harvest fall conditions slow decomposition
  • Uneven / excess residue can lead to difficulty planting in spring
  • Crop residue may serve as host for disease / undesirable vegetation

Get the best of both worlds – add PhycoTerra® to your existing plan.

Leaving residue on the field is a key driver of improved soil health. However, natural decomposition can be a lengthy process, which is one reason many growers resist leaving crop residue to naturally decompose in the field. PhycoTerra® can easily be added to your fall burndown (e.g. Glyphosate), where you can leave the crop residue on top of the soil, and feed the microbes in your soil that can help promote quicker decomposition.

Your crop residue is made up of a complex combination of tough plant residues, like lignin and cellulose, that need to be broken down. Beneficial microbes are the workers in your soil that normally do this job. But these soil microbes have ideal working conditions that they demand be met before they get to work, like warm temperatures, plenty of moisture and lots of food (carbon!). In the post-harvest season, most of us are seeing lower temperatures and drier conditions, which render your soil microbes dormant, leaving crop trash lingering in the field and nutrients tied up in the residue.

How does PhycoTerra® work on crop residue?

PhycoTerra® is nature-sourced, specifically targeted to be an ideal food source for beneficial soil microbes. An application rate of only 1-2 quarts per acre of PhycoTerra® delivers measurable results by feeding the dormant microbes in your soil a superior carbon source. No longer starved, your soil microbes “wake up” and get back to work breaking down crop residue, releasing nutrients and mineralizing them so they’re available for next season’s crop. All this decomposition work has an added benefit of raising the soil temperature to produce an ideal seedbed in the spring. 

incremental roi of phycoterra residue management

Which crops and soil types can PhycoTerra® be used on as a part of an effective residue management program?

No matter the crop or the soil type, PhycoTerra® is an effective tool for residue management. Because of our product’s unique mode of action, PhycoTerra® works across production practices and can deliver benefits to any residue management program. For no-till growers, PhycoTerra® can help you realize greater returns on your regenerative efforts by adding PhycoTerra® to your existing post-harvest herbicidal burndown programs.

For growers looking to reduce their tillage practices, applying PhycoTerra® to manage crop residue is an excellent first step. Not only will you reap the benefits of an active soil microbiome and a covered soil, you’ll also see additional savings and returns. Applying PhycoTerra® by spray application can save you up to $10 an acre compared to the cost of tillage, and growers who reduce till can participate in the carbon market and credits emerging for the agriculture community. It’s a win-win-win-win!

Let’s face it, your work is never done – the 2022 growing season starts now! Get ahead of the game by closing out your crop’s post-harvest with PhycoTerra®.