Jim I remember an email from awhile back where you talked about how too much nitrogen at once causes the plant to turn dark green. I think you said this wasn't a good thing. Although growing up that's all I ever heard was how healthy the dark green crops were. Is it kinda the same mentality as back in the day of summer fallowing. The blacker the better! Well I've noticed in out crops, especially the cereals, we are definitely a few shades lighter green then the neighbours. Obviously because they've applied all there N with the drill. I guess the question is, what exactly does this mean? We are topdressing now, but was the only reason to wait and see what Mother Nature brought us? Or is there some yield benefits to spreading out applied N.
Young plants are not hungry for nitrogen. They need plenty of calcium and phosphorus. Now we are learning that too much Phos can interfere with uptake of micro-minerals so essential for establishing enzyme systems in the young plant and the soil microbial world that is colonizing the plant roots and the surrounding soil.
Yes, I think your analogy of “The blacker the better” is very apropos. We are now learning that the soil needs some plant growing in it to keep supplying sugars (a serious carbon source needed for all life) to the microbes. Soil moisture is contained in those microbial bodies and they don’t give it up easily. Our mistake has been and in large part continues to be that the roots are so shallow that the soil gets hot enough that the microbes dehydrate themselves in order to not die from the heat. According to my special friend, Mary Lucero, the microbes do the same sort of thing when they get cold enough to freeze. Instead of blowing up from the water getting crystallized into ice, they give up the water content and go dormant.
Back to the plants and nitrogen. Since 25% of the UAN is nitrate-nitrogen or water soluble, as the young plant takes of water it is inadvertently also taking up nitrate-N. The Nitrate-N bathes the cell and enters the mitochondria where the sugars are being produced. In the mitochondria Calcium and Phosphorus must bond and move in order to make the precursor of glucose sugar known as ATP. The nitrate-N bonds to the calcium so that the phos cannot so the amount of ATP produced is reduced.
The impact of this is that the plant is not supplying the soil microbes with the maximum amount of the sugar they need to become highly concentrated around and inside the root system of the plant. This lack of energy for the microbes reduces the amount of work they can do for the plant in protecting and growing the plant. It probably also changes the make-up of the microbes that are actually living inside the plant tissues.
The visible result is like seeing that black ground. “Got to be good” because we don’t see anything out there growing that is going to take moisture out of the soil. “Got to be good” because you can see how green the plant is and how fast the crop is growing. Sort of like how some children are developing on the foods they are eating. Get real big real fast but then develop childhood diabetes. A-oooOH! Something is not good here after all!!!
The work in Mineral Nutrition by Huber and others has exposed the myth of high nitrogen early by showing how this is related to the onset of various plant diseases. Thank God this work has been done and published. The Agrotain which you added also serves to extend the life expectancy of the ammonium nitrogen form in your 28% UAN. This life extension actually means that the rate at which ammonium is converted to Nitrate-N in reduced so that the nitrate spike and sugar drop is less pronounced. Plants will be more immune to diseases as a result because the soil microbes who are instrumental in producing the immunity to the diseases has not suffered the energy shortfall. We have prevented a cascading effect leading to Headline and Prosaro applications.
Always remember that the soil around the root system is a war zone. Good and bad microbes of all kinds are slugging it out all the time. One of the elements that the good guys have to have which the plant cannot supply is oxygen and a way to get rid of carbon dioxide which is a waste gas from microbe respiration. This is how your CurseBuster relates to this whole paradigm of plant health and productivity. It is through its influence on gas exchange which is impacting the soil microbiome. Of course, that is achieved by addressing the soil physical condition which produces the water logging condition when it rains or you irrigate.
Now to this question about “Mother Nature” or as I have begun to say “The Blessed Forever Father God”. Researchers are now discovering that the result of using high rates of artificial nitrogen fertilizers in soil are to create “socialized” cropping systems. In other words, welfare cases, are created because there is little demand placed on the soil nitrogen fixing organisms to produce organic N if they don’t have to. Boy, this sounds familiar. So, yes, in effect by using less UAN up front when you plant we are also encouraging microbes that fix N from soil atmosphere to get to work. Yes, a soil that is managing water correctly and is breathing better as a result, is going to get more atmospheric N2 into the soil environment to be converted into microbial protein to eventually spoon feed the plant at the exact rate that is required for optimal yields and health. We are now actually measuring the growth in the specific microbe populations that do this work. Best part is that we are seeing them develop faster and deeper in the soil profile than when we grow using no-till techniques and covercrops are not required to get this to happen. That is not to say that covercrops can’t be helpful. They can. They’ll be a lot more so if the soil they are growing in can breathe deeply. Of course they will also develop much larger root masses behind your CurseBuster too. That’s a great idea too, I think.
The fact that you farm in an area where there is virtually no growing season left in the fall to plant a cover crop is not a serious liability based on what we have quantified after 30 years in Northern NY. And those folks never leave any plant materials on the field surface except for what returns in the cow manure applications. You have all kinds of crop residue to leave on the surface from the Canola, Faba’s, flax, peas and wheat. Lots for the foraging insects to attack and live in year-round.
Yield benefits always come with advances in plant health. Plant health increases profits everytime by cutting production costs.
Hope this has been helpful, Ryan. I’m going to share this on the website Forums if it’s OK?