Breaking Down the Microbial Hype
The hottest new products in agriculture today aren’t chemicals. They’re microbials. As the industry continues dealing with inflated fertilizer costs, many farmers are willing to give these products a shot. James DeMoss, Helena Product Manager based in Louisiana, understands the intrigue, but urges farmers to take a closer look at what’s happening in the soil and in the tank before making an investment.
“Microbials come with a lot of complexity because they’re living organisms,” says DeMoss. “In order for them to work, they have to stay alive.”
According to DeMoss, that’s often easier said than done. Microbials are used to promote root growth as part of liquid fertilizer applications. However, common tank mix partners such as potash, sulfur, UAN solutions and even chlorinated water can be life threatening to microbials. Many microbials also have short application windows. For example, with 10-34-0 or 11-37-0, certain microbial products have to go out within as little as four hours to be effective. The same is true in blends with boron and manganese. In the soil, microbials need optimum conditions to survive. Because they are likely non-native to the environment, any extremes in pH, soil moisture or temperature can kill them. Unfortunately, farming is unpredictable, making the flexibility and compatibility of products extremely important.
Building a strong microbial community in the soil leads to the production of enzymes. The United States Department of Agriculture cites the amount of enzymes as a key indicator of soil health. Enzymes play integral roles in the stabilization of soil structure, decomposition of organic wastes, organic matter formation and nutrient cycling.
“The enzyme, or by-product of the living microbe, is what’s actually doing the heavy lifting in the soil,” says DeMoss.
Enzymes boost natural processes in the soil, accelerating the release of plant-available nutrients for plant uptake. Applying enzymes directly to the soil optimizes the native microbial community. With more productive soil, farmers can maximize their fertility programs to strengthen early-season development and yield potential. DeMoss warns not all enzymes are created equal. For him, the differentiator is consistency, which can be found in stabilized enzymes from Zypro®.
“Typically, native enzymes in the soil only last for about seven days,” says DeMoss. “We’re getting up to 60 days out of the stabilized enzymes we have in Zypro.”
Helena released Zypro in 2019 to solve problems associated with microbials such as formulation longevity and tank mix compatibility. With patented VersaShield® Formulation Technology, its enzymes are built for the harsh soil environment. They go to work immediately, producing chemical reactions in the soil, resulting in better nutrient uptake and stronger root growth. Zypro can also be applied with confidence in common in-furrow and side-dress tank mixes including fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. In everything from sugarcane, rice and sweet potatoes to corn, soybeans and cotton, DeMoss says a variety of farmers with different goals can benefit from Zypro.
“Whether you’re sticking with your traditional fertility plan, or if you’re searching for ways to manage a tight budget, Zypro can help you build soil health,” says DeMoss. “At the end of the day, that’s how you’re going to increase uptake and get more use out of the fertilizer you have.”
Contact your local Helena representative to learn more about Zypro. Find Helena’s new FieldLink Podcast on your favorite podcast platform for more recommendations throughout the season.