Crop Nutrition in Extreme Weather

Ernie Sanders June 12, 2019

Missouri Corn Field (1)

Josh Dunn, Pivot Bio field trial manager, shared this photo of an early stage field trial in Missouri, planted with Pivot Bio PROVEN™ April 25 and inundated with rain thereafter. Pivot Bio microbes keep nitrogen at the roots even in extreme weather.

Extreme weather has been the hallmark of 2019’s planting season, bringing rain, rain, and more rain to the fields. The slow, wet planting season is making it hard for farmers to get out into the fields. As the window for planting closes, yields are under pressure. The June 10 USDA crop progress report suggests that the U.S. will plant only 83% of its intended corn acreage this year, taking 15 million acres of corn out of production.

It’s not just planting that’s at the mercy of the extreme weather.  The constant rain has washed nutrients out of the soil and made it hard to replace them. Here’s the $6 billion question: Do you know where your nitrogen is? Farmers using Pivot Bio PROVEN™ do. It’s at the root, right where the microbes are making it.

According to Dr. Ben Houlton of the University of California, Davis, U.S. farmers lose over $6 billion in fertilizer costs each year. Some of it goes up into the air as nitrous oxide and some of it washes away into rivers and watersheds. A nitrogen source that stays where it’s put, especially in extreme weather, is like having an ace up your sleeve for the growing season. That’s what Pivot Bio PROVEN™ provides, and members of the Pivot Bio field team are traveling across the country to meet with customers  to help them get the most out of our product.

Pivot Bio’s senior agronomist Robert Pesek has seen the extreme weather first hand in his territory of Nebraska and Kansas. He’s watching corn germinate with boots in the field and eyes in the sky. Robert uses a drone to capture images of trial plots early on, looking for information on emergence and vigor of the new sprouts. Plots with and without the nitrogen fixing microbes will be tracked throughout the growing season, comparing their performance.

Josh Dunn, field trial manager, has been watching rainfall throughout the Midwest and the southeast U.S. Years like this increase demand for side-dress nitrogen applications as fall and spring-applied nutrients are washed away by the down pours. However, as  the rain continues, farmers aren’t able to get into the field to apply in-season nitrogen. This year’s extreme weather showcases the uniquely reliable nitrogen provided by microbes like Pivot Bio PROVEN™ that live on the roots of crops. The microbes stay on the roots of the corn plant during extreme weather and provide adequate nutrition throughout this very wet growing season.

Collin Miller, technical services field manager at Pivot Bio,  works with farmers from Ohio to Wisconsin. He’s finding that the weather hasn’t dampened farmer’s enthusiasm for testing Pivot Bio PROVEN™. We look forward to hearing from our customers  that the nitrogen-fixing microbes we delivered from Georgia to Nebraska provide them with reliable and consistent nitrogen throughout 2019. The customers Collin visits are already interested in the potential of Pivot Bio microbes to provide nitrogen on all of their acres for planting in 2020.  

Pivot Bio is excited to be bringing a new type of nitrogen to the field. Farmers are at the mercy of Mother Nature and this year is clearly testing their resolve. We continue to see some of our customers struggle to get seed in the ground, while others can only wait and watch their flooded fields stay a soggy mess. We are building the sort of relationships with all our customers so we can return to their farms next year, rain or shine, and provide them with a product that makes economic sense for them while taking some of that variability out of an already risky operation.  I’m proud to have Robert, Josh, Collin and the rest of our crop experts walking the fields with our farmers.