Sweet & Lovely in Alva, OK
Bob Baker discovers hidden profits in “Below Ground Management”
Baker Farms, OKLAHOMA (2009) – We first met up with Bob Baker in Enid, Oklahoma at the Chisholm Trail Farm Expo in 2003. Bob was the owner of Baker Farm Implements at the time and had a display area set up in the main arena of
He came over and visited with us several times and then told us he was interested in getting together
and using our products on his wheat.
Brett Porter and I drove up to Alva and met Bob at Baker Implements. Bob took
us on a tour of the facility and showed us all the various steps that were required for making Baker plows and
We then went out and looked at several farms and Bob decided to get enough product to seed treat every acre of his
The following spring we came back out and looked at all the fields Bob had put the product on. Simply put, Bob had
some of the best wheat in the entire region and when we started digging roots it was easy to see why.
Bob has remained a loyal customer ever since and now uses the (PS) Winter Wheat Seed Treat Program with Foundation 1-0-1. Bob later makes another product application Using (PS)
Winter Wheat Top-dress Program mixed and applied with Nitrogen fertilizer
We have been out every spring to field evaluate Bob’s wheat crop and it continues to be some of the best wheat in the region every year.
This past year was certainly no exception as most wheat in the area averaged in the high 20’s to low 30’s Bob’s wheat
was in the mid 40’s with several fields cutting over 50 bushel.
“I’ve been using the Pro-Soil Products 6 years and I’ve been seeing a significant increase in yields. My root mass is better and I don’t see the drought stress in the spring like my neighbors. Overall I’m just happy with the product and plan on using it for as long as I farm.
I’m also very happy with the service I get from Ray and Brett. Every spring they come out to check as many fields (as I want to check,) we talk about the wheat and dig up roots to check mass and do comparisons with my neighbors (untreated) crop as far as the head size and root mass.
Every year I’m seeing bigger heads and bigger root mass.”
ORGANIC MATTER: THE REAL PAY DIRT
Most people aren’t aware that 70-90% of the organisms in a rangeland ecosystem live underground, or that one cup of healthy soil contains more than 6 billion living organisms! The key to creating and maintaining a healthy soil is providing habitat and nourishment for the organisms that live there.
HUMUS IS ESSENTIAL
Think about the soil as the plant’s stomach. Just as microbes break down fiber in the cow’s rumen, microorganisms in the soil break down fiber and other organic matter. As the microorganisms decompose organic matter, they create humus. Humus stores nitrogen in the soil. With all of our technology, that’s something we have not figured out how to do. Humus holds 30 times more nutrients than clay. It absorbs 5 times its weight in water and increases oxygen availability in the soil. Micro-flora that live in humus attack soil pathogens. Humus is essential in a healthy soil.
CARBON MAKES THINGS GO
The primary food required by plants is the same as the primary food required by cows and sheep (and people). It is carbon (C). Carbon is energy. It makes things go. While there is a high proportion of carbon in the organic matter in the soil, plants get nearly all of the carbon they use from the atmosphere. Through the miracle of photosynthesis, plants take energy from sunshine, carbon from the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air and water from the soil and produce starch, cellulose, sugars, proteins and other carbon-based compounds. These substances are consumed by animals and decomposed by soil organisms, releasing CO2 into the soil. In nature, unless consumed by fire, nearly all carbon is recycled into the soil. Maintenance of organic matter is important for many reasons, not the least of which is providing adequate carbon to feed the soil microorganisms. It is critical that sufficient crop and root residues be
provided to replenish the organic matter. While nature returns nearly all-organic matter to the soil, modern agriculture removes most of the organic matter. Farming and ranching will not be ecologically (or economically) sustainable until we replenish and maintain soil organic matter. According to Australian Soil Scientist, Dr. Christine
Jones, “pulsed” grazing (short graze periods with adequate recovery periods) adds organic matter to the soil and is the most effective grazing method for maintaining healthy soils.
NITROGEN MAKES THINGS GROW
If carbon makes things go, nitrogen makes them grow. Our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, but unlike carbon, plants can not utilize nitrogen in its gaseous form. In order to pass from the atmosphere to plants, and ultimately to animals and people, nitrogen must first be “fixed” by the soil microorganisms. Almost all of the nitrogen in the soil is in the organic matter. But plants are not able to use the complex protein molecules in these materials. Only after the microorganisms have broken down these complex molecules into ammonium and nitrate molecules will the plants have a nitrogen source.
THE IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES ON HUMUS
Returning adequate organic matter to the soil and encouraging its decomposition into humus are essential for healthy productive soils. But most farming practices deplete organic matter and destroy humus.
MANAGEMENT PRACTICE EFFECT ON ORGANIC MATTER
The majority of organisms in the soil are aerobic (they require oxygen). When soils are cultivated, increasing the exposure to air, it is like opening up the air intake on a wood stove. The microbes use up the organic matter faster. If they use it all up, the microbes will begin to consume the humus as their energy source.
Turning in Crop Residues
This obviously increases the organic matter in the soil. However, it may temporarily throw the C:N ratio out of whack. Ideal C:N ratio is 25 –30:1 for optimal microbial balance. With abundant carbon, the microbes need more nitrogen. The microbes will use all of the nitrogen in the soil creating a nitrogen deficiency for the plants.
When excessive nitrogen is applied to the soil (in excess of what the microbes need to convert organic matter to humus) the microbes will begin consuming humus as their energy source. Every pound of excess nitrogen applied to a soil destroys 100 pounds of humus.
Burning removes organic residues and reduces the amount of organic matter returned to the soil. It also tends to expose the soil, making the surface more vulnerable to erosion and susceptible to capping.
About 50% of plant growth occurs underground. Continuous grazing reduces total root volume and tends to decrease soil
organic matter content. Grazing with adequate recovery periods for root and top growth tends to increase the contribution of roots to soil organic matter. It also increases soil porosity and improves the habitat for many desirable soil organisms.
You can’t afford, economically or biologically, to lose the humus. Replenishing soil organic matter and maintaining a thriving soil microbe population are essential in any business that is Farming For Profit.
Fortunately for Pro-Soil users, all of our products contain at least 3% Humic Acid from what is considered the highest quality source available for Agricultural use.
3 Reasons to Seed Treat Winter Wheat with Pro-Soil
Putting your Pro-Soil product directly on the seed is still the most popular method of application on Wheat. Seed treatment is done at 8oz. per 100 lbs. of wheat seed. When you treat the seed:
- It is more economical as far as cost per acre.
- The energy from the product is on the seed from the time it germinates.
- The root structure always seem to benefit more from the seed treatment.
* Remember however if you seed treat- DO NOT MIX GAUCHO AND YOUR PRO-SOIL PODUCTS TOGETHER.
Bonus Reason: Low program cost allows grower to maximize Pro-Soil’s R.O.I. with a 2nd Top-Dress application post-dormancy to help complete the potential fill of the grain sites improving yield potential. This is the top rated practice reported by Winter Wheat Growers. Looking for suggestions on how to best apply PS product on seed, just ask by emailing us from www.Pro-Soil.com or contacting your local Pro-Soil Dealer.
Top-dress Wheat Program: Timing Considerations?
If your wheat crop is tillering weak when it breaks dormancy it is best to top dress early. Conversely, if your wheat crop is tillering strong when it breaks dormancy try to hold off a little longer.
Many growers have recently started doing 2 half rate top dress applications. Wheat that is grown in the corn belt is almost always top dressed twice to take advantage of the variable weather conditions and to stagger the nitrogen uptake so that the plant gets more of a spoon feeding effect. Sometimes a little bit of additional energy at the right time can make a big difference.
Increasing Forage Quality & Livestock Health
Perhaps the greatest opportunity we have to increase forage quality and
overall livestock health lies in our ability to stimulate and increase soil
Most soils in this country have been overwhelmed with fertilizers and pesticides and as such, the cumulative and long term effects have resulted in a soils inability to maintain adequate soil life and balance. As soil life has diminished, plant available nutrients and trace minerals have also suffered.
Mineral supplementation has become an absolute necessity primarily because many nutrients are no longer available in conventionally produced forage. Not only will bio stimulation of beneficial microbes increase the nutrient availability in existing soils, but livestock which feed on soils with improved microbial life will have improved digestibility and better overall health.
Many problems related to livestock health are the result of inefficient breakdown of ingested forage material or toxins from heavy metal residues which reside in most soils. An improvement in the complexity of soil organisms can markedly improve both situations.
Ask an expert
Q: Why can’t plants obtain all of the nutrients they need from synthetic fertilizers?
A: Plants feed at the second table. The plant feeds on what the microbes provide. Plants are poor foragers and scavengers of nutrients in fertilizers compared to microbes. Microbes have the capacity of “mining” or releasing nutrients from soil particles that are unavailable or “tied-up”. Since microbes need carbon, nitrogen, phosphate, potassium and minor nutrients and trace minerals, they digest these nutrients and change them to a chelated or carbon-based form for the plants. The microbes rely on plants to provide the complex sugars released from plant roots to support the microbes ability to provide nutrition for the plants.
Plants rely on the microbes to digest organic matter into humus that contains the nutrients in stable humic compounds. The plant uses these stored and stable nutrients through the symbiotic relationship with the microbes. The carbon and the balanced carbon/nitrogen relationship of microbes are vital in maintaining healthy, productive soil.
Have a question for Ray?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Call 1-800-714-4903
Ray Trent has been helping farmers solve problems for over 15 years. As National Field Advisor for Pro-Soil AgSolutions, Inc., Ray walks between 200,000 to 300,000 crop acres a year.