Here is another Ohio farmer who found the same things I have.
Mycorrhizae Is Key
The only way a sustainable farming system works is if the mycorrhizal network is restored, Rasawehr says. If a living crop isn’t in place for most of the year, the network may be dead from starvation. “It took us farmers decades to mess this all up and it’s messed up,” he says. “The dirt is so dead we now have to band fertilizers so we can put it right in front of the row.
Why do we have to do that? Because there’s no mycorrhizal network to move the nutrients into the rhizosphere to bring it up into the plant. The soil’s completely dead.” The solution, as stated in the ECO acronym, is to provide the soil a living crop as much as possible. On Rasawehr’s farm, this means getting cover crops seeded within 24 hours of harvest. As soon as he’s done combining, the drill is in the field ready to go. Rasawehr seeds covers with a drill because he likes the seed-to-soil contact it achieves over broadcast applications.
To help ensure cover crops get established on time, he’s switched to shorter corn and soybean maturities. With corn he went from 111- and 114-day maturities down to 105 and 109. In his area, soybeans are typically 3.4 to 3.8, but he’s down to planting 2.6 to 2.8 maturities. Rasawehr tells other growers not to be afraid to try shorter maturities, pointing out that he hasn’t seen a negative yield effect yet.
In fact, for fields that have been in a continuous ecological system, his soybean yields have increased by 10 to 15 bushels per acre, and corn is up to 10 to 20 bushels per acre, depending on the field. This past season, he tested Graph-Ex SA, a biological stimulant for soybeans, during planting to provide an additional boost to the soil microbes.
He says the results were outstanding — between 11 and 20 bushels in yield increases. The manufacturer boasted a 5-bushel yield bump, so Rasawehr thinks the synergy in the soil is what helped him reach those higher bushels. “I think a lot of farmers need to really take a serious look at biologicals,” he says. “There is some synergy with some of these biologicals that we can add at planting.”
Do you have your inoculant ordered?