Friday, April 7, 2017

Preventing Goss's Wilt in corn

Goss's Wilt is a vascular disease that affects over 80 percent of the corn crop in the Northern Hemisphere. It is caused by the organism Clavibacter Michigenensis Nebraskensis and is respondible for billions of dollars in lost yield as well as disastrous reductions in crop quality and nutrient.

Goss's Wilt is the single most expensive disease affecting the US corn crop (and throughout the world), and we can fix that.

According to the experts, the Clavibacter organism has always been present, but it is so weak that it rarely was able to express itself. As I read multiple articles on how to treat it and prevent it, they all said the number one measure was to plant a resistant variety for your area.

Unfortunately, most people are planting GMO Round-Up Ready corn or other GMO varieties. All the GMO varieties are built on non-resistant varieties, so they are all susceptible to Goss's Wilt. When you combine the susceptible variety with the poor soil and plant nutrition of modern chemical farming methods, you have the perfect environment for Goss's Wilt to thrive!

Bio Minerals Technologies has been working with our friends and scientists to solve this very expensive problem in the corn industry. After several years of testing, we can confidently announce that we have a solution that is simple, and that works. Our new product is called Bio-Empruv. Apply it once during early growth (around V6), and your corn fields will stay green all the way through harvest. No more early death with small, unfilled ears. Use Bio-Empruv and have full ears with much higher nutritional content and far better quality.

You can read about our Bio-Empruv successes and our high-yield corn program on our web site.

You can also watch our Goss's Wilt webinar to learn more about the disease, its causes, and how to deal with it.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

How to Make Good Compost

Almost everyone with a backyard garden has a "compost pile." It is a collection of kitchen scraps, plant material, yard waste, lawn clippings, and more. However, it is generally unmanaged and just left to itself. As it turns out, that is not a good recipe for effective compost.

Well-made compost creates a rich humus material that is beneficial for lawns and gardens. Most people have the source materials they need to create their own compost. All it takes is a little knowledge and some work. Good compost provides the following benefits:

  • Soil conditioner: adds nutrients and improves moisture retention
  • Recycles plant and animal waste
  • Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil that will: improve soil aeration, bread down organic matter, protect against plant diseases
  • Good for environment – a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers and pest control
For a more in-depth understanding of how a compost pile works, check out the videos on our web site!

Compost materials

Compost can be made from almost any organic material, though proportions do make a difference. Different materials contribute either carbon or nitrogen to your compost mix. The trick is to maintain a healthy working balance between the two elements. As a general rule, you want 2/3 carbon (brown and/or dry) to 1/3 nitrogen (greens). Some common materials are shown in the table below:
MaterialCarbon/NitrogenInfo
Table scrapsNitrogenAdd with dry carbon items
Fruit and vegetable scrapsNitrogenAdd with dry carbon items
EggshellsNeutralBest when crushed
LeavesCarbonBreak down faster when shredded
Grass clippingsNitrogenAdd in thin layers to prevent matting and clumping
Garden plantsNitrogenUse only disease-free plants
Lawn and garden weedsNitrogenUse only weeds that have not yet gone to seed
Shrub pruningsCarbonWoody prunings are slow to break down – shred
Straw or hayCarbonStraw is best; hay (with seeds) is less ideal
Green comfrey leavesNitrogenExcellent compost “activator”
Pine needlesCarbonAcidic, use in moderate amounts
Flowers and cuttingsNitrogenChop up any long, woody stems
Seaweed and kelpNitrogenApply in thin layers, good source for trace elements
Wood ashCarbonOnly use ash from clean materials, sprinkle lightly
Chicken manureNitrogenExcellent compost “activator”
Coffee groundsNitrogenFilters may also be included
Tea leavesNitrogenLoose or in bags
NewspaperCarbonAvoid using glossy paper and colored inks
Shredded paperCarbonAvoid using glossy paper and colored inks
CardboardCarbonShred material to avoid matting
Corn cobs, stalksCarbonSlow to decompose, best if chopped up
Dryer lintCarbonBest if from natural fibers
Sawdust pelletsCarbonHigh carbon levels, add in layers to avoid clumping
Wood chips/pelletsCarbonHigh carbon levels, use sparingly

Preparing your compost pile

It is always best to start your compost pile on bare soil. The soil provides drainage and the natural microbes and earthworms in the soil will migrate into the compost pile, speeding decomposition and proliferating the beneficial microorganisms. The site should have a slight 3-5% slope which assists with the drainage of excess water. You want your pile wet, but not saturated.

The size of your pile depends on the volume of materials you have to work with. A small garden compost pile can be whatever size you need, but a large-volume farming operation, with lots of material, will need to restrain the dimensions in order to maximize the composting process. A large-scale compost pile should be no wider than 10 feet at the base and no taller than 5 feet at the top (center).

Building your compost pile

The components of the compost pile are important, but so is the order of their application. Build your compost pile in layers.

  1. At the bottom of the pile, put your dry, carbon-rich fiber such as hay, straw, fodder, and dried leaves.
  2. Next add your organic matter such as yard waste, stall manure, or saw dust.
  3. On top of the organic material, put your wet layer; kitchen waste, processed materials. Keep this layer thin to prevent the development of anaerobic conditions.
  4. Next add enough clay or mineral sources to make up about 10% of the total volume. This can be clay, soft rock phosphate, humates, or other mineral-rich materials.
  5. On top of the clay is the fresh green materials such as grass, weeds, or green leaves; no more than 5% of the total volume.
  6. Finally, the top layer is between 2-20 lbs of mineral rock dust per yard of raw materials.

Once you have built your pile we recommend adding enough liquid to bring the moisture level up to around 50% (you should be able to squeeze a few drops out of a handful of compost). Be sure to use non-chlorinated water as chlorine will kill the microbial activity in the compost. Always inoculate the compost with Bio Minerals Technologies’ compost/mineral tea to jump-start the microbial population as you moisturize the compost.

Once your pile is built, you need to cover it. It doesn’t really matter what you cover it with: plastic sheeting, wood, carpet scraps. The objective is to retain moisture and heat, both essential for the composting process. The covering can also prevent the compost from being over-watered by rain, giving you some control over the moisture levels in rainy regions.

Maintaining your compost pile

As the pile decomposes, it will generate heat and use up moisture. Some heat is good, too much heat is not. Also, if you lose too much moisture, the decomposition process will slow down and eventually stop, so you need to maintain the moisture level. If you are in a region with regular rainfall, the rain can replenish the moisture. If you are in a more arid region, you will have to add moisture at regular intervals to maintain the proper balance.

Temperature and turning

As the composting process begins, the interior of the pile heats up. The maximum interior temperature at the center of the pile should be no more than 160 degrees F. When the center temperature reaches 150 degrees, you should turn the compost. Turning should drop the temperature by at least 20 degrees.

Constant temperatures above 137 degrees for 10-14 days will kill any weed seeds in your compost.
Turning is a good time to add moisture, if it is needed, as the process of turning will distribute the moisture throughout the pile. If you are turning by hand, just use a pitchfork or shovel.

The highest temperatures are in the first 2-3 weeks of the breakdown phase. By the time you get to the 4th week, much of the breakdown has occurred and the process slows. Temperatures will drop into the 120-130 degree range for the remainder of the process.

Troubleshooting

If your initial temperatures are too low and don’t get over the 137-degree threshold, then your pile may need one of three things: oxygen, water, or more green nitrogen-based materials.

The water is easy to check. Take a handful of compost and squeeze it. If you can produce a few drops of water, your moisture level is about right. If the compost is dry, add some water and mix it to distribute throughout the pile.

If the moisture level is good and the temperatures are low, then check your O2 and CO2 levels. If the O2 level is less than 8%, you need to aerate the pile to introduce more oxygen. If the CO2 levels are greater than 8%, you need to aerate the pile and reduce the CO2 concentrations.
If the water and oxygen are good and your temperatures are still low, then you probably need to mix more Nitrogen-based materials into your piles.

Finish indicators

There are several indicators that can tell you when your compost is finished. Taken together, they can accurately tell the story of the decomposition process while giving you the quality indicators you need. A quick list is shown below, followed by more detailed discussion of the individual measurements.

Simple indicators:

pH: > 7 < 8

Mature Temperature: No more than 10 degrees over ambient air temperature

Moisture: 50%

Lab indicators

EC: 1,200-2,500 mS after 6 weeks

rH (Redox): 28-29

CO2: < 3%

NO3: 250-300 ppm (summer), 50-100 ppm (winter)

NH4: < 0.5 ppm (if NH4 is > 2% there was insufficient oxygen to complete the nitrogen cycle)

NO2: < 2 ppm in early stages, but 0 in the finishing stages

Sulfides (HS2): None

Organic matter: 12.5 %

Ash: 37.5%

Sodium: < 200 ppm

pH

The pH reading of compost is easily tested with a standard pH meter. To test the pH level of the compost, mix 1 part compost with 1 part distilled water and test with a pH meter.

The pH levels of the compost follow a predictable curve. When the pile is first created the pH will be in the 6s, but it quickly rises that first week to between 8-8.5. If the composting is proceeding properly, it will rise quickly and then decline as shown below:

Week 1: start in 6s and rise to between 8-8.5

Week 2: Peak around 9 and then start dropping back to 8.5

Week 3: Slow decline down to 8.2 or 8.3

Week 4: Continue decline to 8.1 or 8.2

Week 5: Continue decline to 7.8

Week 6: Level off around 7.5

Finished compost should have a pH reading greater than 7 and less than 8.

Electrical Conductivity (EC)

EC is a measurement of nutrients available in the compost. The greater the nutrient concentration, the higher the electrical conductivity. It is measured with an EC meter. The reading should be between 1,200 and 2,500 mS after 6 weeks of composting.

rH

rH, or Redox, is a measurement of relative hydrogen that tells you how well your compost supports the beneficial microbial populations (most beneficial soil microbes are aerobes, which means they require oxygen). The range is from 0-40, with 28 being the midpoint or balance. A score below 28 indicates an oxygen reductive state which is not conducive to beneficial aerobic microbes. A score above 28 indicates an oxidative state which is supportive of beneficial microbial growth.

Redox is calculated with the following formula:

(210 + ORP + 2(pH))/30 = rH (Redox)

ORP = Oxygen Reduction Potential and is measured with an ORP meter. The readings are in mV.

For example, an ORP reading of +250 mV with a pH reading of 7.8 will calculate as follows:

(210 + 250 + 2(7.8))/30 = (460/30) + 15.6 = 30.93

This indicates an oxidizing state that supports beneficial microbial growth.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Treating seeds and starts in your yard and garden

Spring is a time of many transplants, whether as seeds, starts, or bare root. In order to give those transplants a good chance, we recommend applying our starter treatment. We have been using these products to treat farm seed for several years, with amazing results; quick sprouting, better germination, stronger and healthier plants, and better yields. Our farmers like the results so well, they are using the products on their gardens. We are too, and so should you.

The process is simple, but the results are definitely worth it.

Step 1: Mix equal parts Bio Release and water in a small mister or fine sprayer.

Step 2: Put some Soil Biology Boost powder in an empty baby powder container.

Step 3: Spray a fine mist over the seeds or roots to be planted (just enough to slightly moisten the plants or roots, but not make them wet).

Step 4: Apply a very light dusting of Soil Biology Boost powder to the moistened seeds or roots (it is best to apply in an area without wind as the powder will drift away easily when applying). When properly applied, the powder will be almost invisible.

Step 5 (seeds only): If treating seeds, mix or toss to evenly coat seeds with powder (I use an empty nut container and shake it)

Step 6: Plant

Here is a video showing how we treat some strawberry starts before we plant them:



Friday, May 6, 2016

Use Compost to Rejuvenate Your Soil

A good compost is one of the most beneficial soil amendments available. Properly composted materials have the following benefits:

  • adds nutrients to your soils
  • inoculates the soil with good bacteria
  • protects the soil from pathogens
  • promotes a healthy environment for plant growth
  • increases organic matter in the soil
  • helps balance soil pH
  • improves soil texture and composition

Bio Minerals Technologies is producing a series of videos about how composting works and why it is important to do it right. Head over to our web site and take a look!

We have simple biological solutions to improve the composting process for large livestock operations. Turn your waste stream into better nutrients for your fields, or into a revenue stream for your bottom line.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Steps to a Healthy Yard and Landscape

Typical landscape fertility has been reduced to just three nutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK), and most people focus just on Nitrogen. The problem is, plants with a high-nitrogen diet require at least 2-3 times more water to stay green!  To make it worse, all that excess water, combined with the high nitrogen, creates a waterlogged soil environment that breeds pathogens (disease-causing microbes), and is detrimental to the good microbes, resulting in sick plants.

Your yard doesn't need more nitrogen, it needs a better balance of all nutrients so it can make better use of the nitrogen it already has, while using 1/2 as much water!

Bio Minerals Technologies provides balanced nutritional blends, complete with necessary trace minerals that can feed your landscape properly. We also provide microbe "boosters" that reinforce the good biology in your soils, crowding out the pathogens and helping your plants make better use of the nutrients and water that are available.

Our program has proven successful in multiple environments and on both residential and commercial landscapes. An added benefit is the reduction or elimination of the use of herbicides, pesticides, and other toxins, resulting not only in healthier plants, but a healthier outdoor environment.

Here is an outline of our landscape nutrition program:

Spring

At the beginning of the yard season, you should prepare your soil and plants for growth by doing the following:

  1. Apply a good lawn fertilizer at the recommended rate (get a good organic fertilizer from your local yard supply store)
  2. Spray all lawns and flower beds with Bio Minerals Technologies' Compost/Mineral Tea at a rate of 5 gallons/1000 square feet.
  3. Inject or drench trees (ornamental and fruit) with Bio Minerals Technologies' Compost/Mineral Tea at a rate of 1 gallon/1" of trunk diameter (e.g. 3" trunk receives 3 gallons).
  4. Spray all lawns and flower beds (per 1000 sq feet) with the following mixture (in 1 gallon of water):
    0.5 oz Foliar Biology Boost
    0.5 oz Bio Mineral 75 liquid minerals

Recurring Applications

After your initial fertilization, the following applications should be made every 4-6 weeks throughout the growing season to maintain a healthy yard and soil environment:
  1. For lawns: Mix the following in 1 gallon of water and apply / 1000 square feet
    6 oz Healthy Grass Blend
    1.5 oz Bio Release
  2. For flowers: Mix the following in 1 gallon of water and apply /1000 square feet
    0.5 oz Flower Foliar
    1.5 oz Bio Release
  3. For shrubs and trees (ornamental and fruit): Mix the following in 5 gallons of water and apply / 1000 square feet
    13 oz Bush-Tree-Garden
    1.5 oz Bio Release

Fall

At the end of the season, apply the following to build nutrition for next spring.
  1. Apply Bio Minerals Technologies' Fall Yard Mineral Blend at a rate of 17.5 lbs/1000 square feet
  2. Spray all lawns and flower beds with Bio Minerals Technologies' Compost/Mineral Tea at a rate of 5 gallons/1000 square feet
  3. For trees (fruit and ornamental), insert Dry Mineral Tree Blend nutrition packs into the soil surrounding the trunk at approximately 1 lb/inch of trunk diameter.
If, during the growing season, you feel a need to spray herbicides to kill weeds or unwanted plants, always follow the herbicides after a week with Compost/Mineral Tea to rebuild any microbial damage caused by the poison.