By: Ben Elliott, Soil Microbiologist/Brookside Agra
Wonder how to sort through all the new chemicals and techniques on the market today for water conservation? Consider starting with the basics. We know we can’t control how much water Mother Nature throws at us, and we understand how important each drop is, considering the uncertainty of our weather patterns these days. Going forward, we have to work towards getting more water in our soil profile at deeper depths and preserving that moisture for plants to use, even as supplies from the sky begin to dwindle. We have times when we just can’t seem to get a pause in the rain, and others when we worry how the late crops will fare through the late summer when the rain is scarce.
I spend a lot of time with growers talking about application timing and what we can do to mitigate the effects of hydrophobic soils. These soils are often overlooked, yet there are practices we can put into place that will lead to some inexpensive yield boosts. An alternate bonus is that it helps us better manage nutrient run-off from our farms. After all, it should be our goal to get nutrients into the ground instead of the ditch.
One of the quickest ways to help with water management is to utilize a chemistry like Brookside Agra’s natural H2OExcel™. This is a chemistry that simply baffled me as to its true mode of action. In my initial assessment of this chemistry, I saw characteristics that were similar to soil surfactants, penetrants, conditioners, etc. The effects on some of the growth analysis tests that I conducted in my own lab found me seeking new avenues to get this chemistry on the ground. A very powerful depolarizer, H2OExcel could infiltrate soil samples as quickly as any of the concentrated synthetics I used. It simply changes the makeup of the water structure where it is not as bound to soil structures as untreated water and especially hard water.
H2OExcel simply cannot be pigeon-holed as a specific category of chemical. In addition to its ability to infiltrate soils more quickly, H2OExcel brings a humic acid to the mix, and adding carbon is always a bonus. There are countless reasons to boast about adding carbon to the soil, and in my opinion, humic should be going on all of our soils. Biological life is boosted because of an available food source of sorts that an otherwise deprived and weakened life structure takes a long time to find.
Also, there is a condition that we rarely talk about that H2OExcel can help with called soil capillarity. This condition is usually the reason we see a large amount of irrigation water run off or move away only to saturate a different part of the farm. Capillarity can be basically thought of as an outward pressure in the pathways that prevents water from entering and allowing carbon dioxide to escape the soil. H2OExcel can change some of this condition by allowing more water to soak into the soil and opening the once blocked pathways; releasing more carbon dioxide to growing plants. This is called increased Carbon Burst and shows promise for corn growth and development.
At the end of the day, Brookside Agra has found a very unique way to help us begin to actively manage water and nutrients. It is absolutely necessary for growers to look at including H2OExcel in their nutrient management plans, especially on irrigated ground.
Ben Elliott is a Soil Microbiologist for Brookside Agra. He has worked in the chemical formulating and research fields for the past 10 years, providing consultation services both nationally and internationally. He specializes in intensive management for growers adopting new practices based on biological aspects of decision making, data management and systems integration.