New ways Non-Herbicide methods to "TERMINATE" cover crops and for no-till farming!

Posted 2015-04-22 You can probably reduce your herbicide cost by 90%! So first Shelford Law of Nature!

Shelford's Law of Tolerance

Shelford's Law of Tolerance is probably the more accurate reflection of natural complexity. It holds that first the presence and then the success of an organism depend on the completeness of a complex of conditions. The absence or failure of an organism, then, is a function of qualitative or quantitative deficiency or excess with respect to any one of several factors approaching that organism's limit of tolerance for it.

More precisely, each organism--whether the individual or the species population--is subject to an ecological minimum, maximum, and optimum for any specific environmental factor or complex of factors. The range from minimum to maximum represents the limits of tolerance for the factor or complex. Significantly, if all known factors are apparently within their respective ranges for the subject organism and yet it fails, it is necessary to consider additional factors or a more complete array of interrelationships, including interactions with other organisms.

When faced with any such situation, it is essential to remember yet another caveat, a biological reality to be taken seriously: Studies in the intact ecosystem must accompany experimental laboratory studies, which, of necessity, isolate individuals from their populations and communities. Put another way, it is essential for field biologists to consider the wisdom to be discovered in the laboratory and for biologists ordinarily bound to the laboratory to be aware of the ecological reality associated with the processes they are investigating.

There are significant corollaries to the Law of Tolerance. An organism may have a wide range of tolerance for one factor but a narrow range for another. Logic suggests that organisms with wide ranges of tolerance for many, if not all, factors will be the most widely distributed. Within an organism or species, when conditions are non-optimum for one factor, limits of tolerance for others may be narrowed. Tolerance is most likely to be limited during periods of reproduction.

Evolution of narrow limits constitutes one form of specialization and reflects greater efficiency, but it does so at the expense of adaptability. These are the kinds of factors that contribute to increased diversity in the community as a whole. And the best thing is you 2 for 1 with residual AMS or UREA

Thousands of farmers are gaining the soil-building benefits of cover crops. Many growers want to find ways they can terminate green cover crops in spring without spraying the usual non-selective herbicides. Thus, We are experimenting with a wide array of soil-friendly fertility products which can "over-fertilize" rapidly growing cover crops.

The key to this is "BurnDown", which provides three critical roles:

1. Complete, clear-coating coverage of grasses and broadleaves by reducing the surface tension of nutrient spray solutions.
2. Softening the waxy cuticle of cover crop leaves with powerful colloidal micelle cleansing principles.
3. Carrying nutrients into crop metabolism, making them systemic enough so the entire plant either shuts down totally or takes so much time for recovery that the annual crops can shade it out.

The goal is simple. We want to find several "recipes" of commonly available, sprayable fertility products which a grower can use to overdose cover-crop grasses and broadleaves. For years, organic gardeners have used vinegar — acetic acid — as a herbicide. "BurnDown" makes it more effective.

The technology of getting it done is a little more challenging. We're experimenting with blends of commonly available crop nutrients such as:

* Ammonium sulfate, which is a nitrogen source. Soluble, sprayable formulations of AMS show promise. Farmers are already familiar with AMS as a way to reduce the pH of herbicide solutions. * 28% and 32% liquid nitrogen. We learned years ago to "go easy" on foliar feeding liquid nitrogen in a solution laced with 5 ounces of "BurnDown" per acre.

Our experiments this season are to find how light a rate we can apply, with "BurnDown" in the tank, and still clobber vigorous grasses like cereal rye.
* Phosphoric acid. This is the base for many phosporus fertilizers. We've tested 75% phosphoric acid, which is a bit too acidic to recommend handling.
* Dry, soluble phosphorus-rich fertilizers. We'd favor these for burndown of grass cover crops before planting soybeans, or for shocking alfalfa before planting a corn crop.
* Boron. Many soils are deficient in boron. Used sparingly, the borates show a lot of promise in moving other nutrients into plant systems when mobilized with "BurnDown" .
* Potassium sulfate. This is a common K source for potassium deficiency.
* Calcium nitrate.
* Magnesium Sulfate. Helpful in “BurnDown” solutions, but many soils are already high in magnesium.
* Sodium diacetate. This combines a salt and an acid.

Perhaps you've seen research papers from our Land Grant universities, or USDA, documenting how to use these or other nutrients as substitutes for commercial non-selective herbicides. Here is a tub of cereal ryegrass (lower tub) sprayed with a solution of ammonium sulfate and "BurnDown". No survivors. Control is the top tub. This was sprayed and left outside the past couple of weeks of cool, damp weather. The ammonium sulfate we used is the bagged kind normally used to drop pH in spray solutions. We're still experimenting with minimum rates. The one crucial factor in this kind of burndown: You need at least 20 gallons of water per acre to "clear-coat" a big, vigorous cover crop. With "BurnDown", you can use medium to coarse spray — the surface tension is so low that droplets deep-creep across the leaves. You don't need a mist.

Below is cereal rye sprayed with straight 28% nitrogen and "BurnDown". The nitrogen rate works out to about 60 units of nitrogen per acre. Many growers dribble or 2x2 that much nitrogen on corn with the planter anyway. Using the liquid N to torch the cover crop offers a nearly "free" burndown if you charge the fertilizer to your fertility budget. The "BurnDown" cost at 5 ounces per acre would be about $5.00. Another benefit: By spraying the green cover crop, it would help balance the carbon:nitrogen ratio of the cover crop residue for faster microbial decomposition. If heavy residue decomposes during the growing season, microbes can deprive the growing crop of nitrogen because they need it for aggressive metabolism of carbon in the residue.

Boron could be a useful element in fertilizer burndown blends. Ken Musselman, agronomist with AgriEnergy Resources, tells us he experiment with a little sprayable boron to wipe out chickweed (a pesky broadleaf) in his lawn. Killed the chickweed. Scorched the grass a bit, but the grass quickly grew out of it. When we've added boron to vinegar blends, the takedown of cereal rye has appeared more conclusive than without it. We've also heard that boron is useful in defoliating, but not killing, sugar cane before harvest. So at the encouragement of a "Student of the Soil" consultant, we tried this recipe: 20% vinegar, sprayable ammonium sulfate, and boron in water laced with "BurnDown". The ratio of BurnDown to water was about 1:256, or one ounce of "BurnDown" in each two gallons of water. That is probably more than needed; we will keep "thinning" the "BurnDown" concentration in tests. All you need (we think) is enough to assure clear-coating of the leaves your spraying with the spray solution you're using. Much depends on carbonates and other contaminants in the water.

So at right, here's 10-inch cereal rye, just five hours after spraying with his test solution:

750 milliliters of water
250 milliliters of 20% vinegar (acetic acid)
60 grams of dry sprayable ammonium sulfate
15 grams of Material X, A Fertility product.

From our experience the past couple of years, when the grass scorches this quickly, the nutrient shock is likely so severe that the root system can't find enough energy to recover. Naturally, mixing and matching NPK ingredients and micronutrients can lead to cottage cheese, especially when calcium is involved. So as you experiment, use small quantities and not totes of this and totes of that. The reason for this little report is not to make recommendations, but to see if other people have some proven ideas. Let us know... look for our contact information on this website. Keep in mind that "BurnDown"is NOT herbicides, but trans locator, and we make no weedkiller claims. These products are surfactants and nutrient mobilizers. Nor do we sell these NPK type fertility products... they're commonly available at your local fertilizer dealer.

Lastly here is a field trail that should encouraging results.

Pico Ag, 5731 Lexington Drive, Parrish, FL 34219 Phone: 800 995-9203
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