Biocat 1000 multiplies the beneficial fungi and other microbes that decay plant residue. By accelerating the decay process, Biocat 1000 recycles more nutrients from residue before the next crop. Other benefits include faster organic matter formation and less trouble with weeds and volunteer corn.
How do I apply Biocat 1000 to the residue?
Biocat 1000 is non-toxic when used as recommended and may be applied in a tank mix with liquid fertilizers or pesticides for a one-pass application. For example, many of our customers apply Biocat 1000 with their fall burn-down or spring pre-plant chemicals. The recommended application rate depends on the type and amount of crop residue. You should apply Biocat 1000 with enough water to get adequate coverage of the residue, and we generally recommend 10-15 gallons of water per acre. Also, you should conduct a jar test of all new tank-mix combinations, and all other products should be diluted in water before adding Biocat 1000 to the sprayer tank.
|Crop||Rate||One gallon covers|
|Corn (yield over 200 BPA)||16 ounces per acre||8 acres|
|Corn (lower yield or drought damaged)||12-14 ounces per acre||9-13 acres|
|Soybean, wheat, or small grain residue||8-10 ounces per acre||13-16 acres|
What are the expected returns from faster corn residue decay?
Crop residue contains valuable nutrients that can be recycled for use by the next crop. As shown in the following table, one ton of corn residue contains NPK and S worth about $49.50 at current fertilizer prices. Based on our past field tests, we find that Biocat 1000 can accelerate the decay process and help to breakdown an additional two tons of corn stalks between harvest and planting time. After deducting $14.75 per acre for the product and $7 per acre for the application costs, the expected net return from using Biocat 1000 to decay an additional two tons of corn residue is more than $75 per acre. Finally, you do not have to pay for an additional pass to apply Biocat 1000 if you spray it in a tank-mix with herbicides or liquid fertilizers.
|Nutrient||1.5 tons||2.0 tons||2.5 tons|
|Total value of recycled nutrients||$74.25||$99.00||$123.75|
|Biocat 1000 and application cost||$21.75||$21.75||$21.75|
|Expected net return||$52.50||$77.25||$102.00|
For more information on the value of accelerated corn residue decay, please click here to review our summary of three recent on-farm studies.
What about the returns for other types of crop residue?
Although harvested soybean fields have less residue than corn fields, a ton of soybean residue is more valuable because it contains more nitrogen and phosphorus and nearly as much potash. At current fertilizer prices, one ton of soybean residue contains NPK and S worth about $71.70. Based on our field experience, we expect Biocat 1000 to decay an additional ton of soybean residue before the next crop is planted, and the expected net return is $57.30 per acre.
Wheat stubble and other small grain residue is more difficult to decompose than corn or soybean residue because it has a higher carbon-nitrogen ratio. However, it pays to accelerate the decay of this residue because the recycled nutrients are valuable. For example, a ton of wheat residue is slightly more valuable than a ton of corn residue because the wheat stubble contains more potash. By using Biocat 1000 to decay an additional ton of wheat residue, you can generate expected net returns that exceed $30 per acre.
What can I expect to see in the field?
The decay organisms first colonize plant residue at breaks in the stalk. In this photo, the top of the no-till corn stalk is not in contact with the soil. However, the decay process has started at the point where the snapping roll broke the stalk during harvest. Shortly after Biocat 1000 is applied to corn residue, we often see the first evidence of decay starting at the top of the broken stalks. These stalk tips turn brown before the remainder of the residue.
The beneficial fungi and other microbes break down the pith first because this material is mostly cellulose, which is soft and easy to decompose. Over time, corn stalks and cobs treated with Biocat 1000 become hollow as the cellulose breaks down. The rate of residue decay depends on several factors, including temperature, soil moisture, and available nutrients. You can click here to read our summary of these influences on the residue decay process.
The outer shell of the stalk contains more lignin, which is a very durable material that helps with stalk strength. This material decays more slowly, so the outer shell of the decaying stalks remain intact to provide cover for the soil. However, the hollowed and decaying stalks becomes more pliable and easier to manage over time.
Do we need to till or shred stalks to help them decay?
The microbes enter the residue at any point where the stalk is broken. For no-till corn, this is usually the point where the snapping rolls in the corn head break the stalk. So, Biocat 1000 does not require tillage to accelerate the residue decay process. However, you can provide more places for microbes to enter the stalks if you disk or shred stalks after harvest.
Can we manage weeds and volunteer corn with microbial decay?
Dropped corn ears and and weed seeds are plant residue just like stalks and leaves, and these seeds can be prevented from germinating and causing trouble for the next crop if they can be adequately decomposed. Biocat 1000 accelerates this decay process and can reduce volunteer corn and other weed problems in crop fields. The pictures show dropped corn ears from the previous crop in a soybean field. Here, most of the kernels are decayed to the point where they cannot germinate and will not emerge as volunteer corn.