MKC Blog > December 2020 > Innovation in Agriculture

Innovation in Agriculture

December 14, 2020

innovation-in-agriculture.jpgSince the beginning of agriculture, farmers have been innovating. They have had to change, adapt and create new farming practices. Technological advances such as modern implements, genetically improved crops and precision agriculture have allowed operations to be more profitable, efficient and sustainable.

In the same way, the use and development of farm chemicals and fertilizers has transformed agricultural production. Going beyond apps, drones or farm machinery, technical and scientific advances in crop protection products have helped provide innovative solutions to farmers to maximize their field’s nutrients and yield potential. MKC, in line with its fourth key value of innovation, knows there is a wide new frontier for innovation and agriculture. As such, MKC has partnered with two soil health companies, Sound Agriculture and Prime Dirt, to bring innovative products to its member-owners.

Sound Agriculture
Sound Agriculture develops innovative solutions that unleashes the power of plants to help growers produce crops with fewer resources. The company’s first commercial product, Source, unlocks nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil by activating specific microbes, supporting plant and soil health. Recognizing its position as trusted advisors to farmers, MKC partnered with Sound Agriculture to bring this new technology to its member-owners.

“Crop fertility, and specifically biologicals to improve nutrient uptake, is something farmers are really looking at,” says Nathan Larson, MKC regional sales manager in Manhattan. “When we looked at the previous research on Source, we wanted to include it in our own trials because we find it important to bring new products and ideas to farmers at the local level.”

Larson took the lead on enabling MKC’s strategic account manager team to conduct trials throughout the state. Each strategic account manager conducted two trials in their respective area, putting Source on fields from central to northeast Kansas.

Sprayed early in the season (V4 or V5 in corn), Source is tank mix compatible with any herbicide and can be broadcast applied. During the summer, Larson and the team pulled tissue samples to monitor nitrogen and phosphorus levels and track trends.

“More times than not, we saw higher rates of nitrogen and phosphorus in the fields treated with Source compared to fields without the product,” Larson says.

More data will become available following harvest, though Larson is expectant of positive results.

“This is a product that shows a lot of promise, and the big test will be at the end of the year once we have yield data,” Larson says. “We feel that this product fits into our key of innovation, which isn’t just technology. We need to be in this space and leading the way with this product.”

Prime Dirt
Prime Dirt is exploring a new frontier in maximizing crop production: soil fertility at the biological level. Observing that increased diversity of the biome can improve uptake efficiency and increase crop productivity, Prime Dirt developed N-TEXX, an all-natural liquid soil inoculant that contains a broad spectrum of soil bacteria.

“Prime Dirt has a lot of experience in the bacterial field,” says Adam Froetschner, MKC strategic account manager in Plains. “Bacteria in general will be the next barrier to break through toward higher yields, and that is why MKC is choosing to add N-TEXX to our lineup. If you have everything right nutritionally, this would be the next step.”

Froetschner and other team members worked to conduct an extensive study to test different parameters. This summer, he utilized eleven fields in the Plains area to test the effects of N-TEXX on root mass, stock thickness and yield potential.

“A big reason for the success of this experiment and data collection is due to our summer intern, Cole Reed,” Froetschner says. “Cole spent two days a week at Plains and really helped with the technology aspect.”

To make sure the data was scientifically and statistically sound, Reed used Climate Fieldview™ and Winfield® United’s R7® Tool to look at the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery and pinpoint locations in both the control and N-TEXX treated fields that were at a similar level of field health to pull tissue samples from throughout the summer.

“We would send the samples from both the control and N-TEXX fields to ServiTech Laboratories, and then built a spreadsheet based on those samples and their differences,” Reed says. “Four plants were dug up weekly from each field to take measurements around the length of the node and the root mass of the first node down. As the ear developed, we also took kernel counts.”

Froetschner and Reed tissue tested from V4 to R1, and at V8 started to measure root mass weights and stock growth. They found by V8 to V12, there were strong differences between the N-TEXX and control fields.

“By R1, we had a positive difference in root mass toward N-TEXX at a 19% increase and a 3% stock growth improvement,” Froetschner says. “After all of our harvest data is analyzed, we will know more, but Prime Dirt’s findings show a 3-7% improvement in yield. Our kernel counts are showing an even greater potential than that.”

“Once we have that data, we’ll be able to do a lot of things with it,” Froetschner says. “This data collection is going to be an ongoing power to the growers in the area. The devil is in the details and bacteria is definitely a detail. In today’s agriculture sector, detail orientation is the key to success, especially in exploring innovative solutions, and MKC is focused on providing that for our member-owners.”

Photos: (top) Adam Froetschner and Cole Reed examine an ear of corn as part of their N-TEXX study.
(bottom) The corn on the left was pulled from the field treated with N-TEXX, while the corn on the right was from the control field. 


Posted: 12/14/2020 4:27:29 PM by Kelli Schrag | with 0 comments

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