Below is an excerpt from Stanworth Crop Consultants Inc Research
Introduction: Questions regarding soil health in the SW deserts of the United States have been posed. Indigenous populations of micro-organisms may not be as effective in decomposition of organic matter or competitive with plant parasitic nematodes or soil borne diseases. Recent regulatory and environmental pressures have been put to growers to switch from caustic soil sterilants (methyl bromide) to alternatives. These alternatives include biological organisms as agents to help control soil borne diseases. Recently, benefits of these materials have been noted anecdotally. Increase in production and quality have been seen in treated versus untreated fields. Increase in plant analysis nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus have been observed on sugar beets. Decreases in nematode populations have been seen in treated vs untreated fields. A replicated treatment and untreated control experiment was proposed. This experiment was performed to test the efficacy of using Pure Ag Solutions micro-organisms and quantify benefits on nutrients, yields and quality of alfalfa hay.
Results: Alfalfa quality improved significantly in the treated plots. Median %ADF and %NDF decreased over 3% in treated versus untreated check plots. Energy calculations showed an increase in median Relative Feed Value from 119 to 133, TDN increased from 53.7 to 56.1. Median Crude protein increased over 1% in treated plots over the untreated check, but was not statistically significant. Yields increases were noted. Average yields of the treated plots were 1.23 tons/ac, the untreated plots averaged 1.09 tons/ac. This was not statistically significant however. Total bale counts showed there was no increase in yield, treated 1.46 tons/ac, untreated plots at 1.47 tons/ac. Bale weights were estimated at 105 lbs/bale. Comparison of soil nutrients between treatments revealed that there was no significant change in any of the soil nutrient tested in alfalfa soils treated with Pure Ag Solutions Micro-organism when compared to controls. Alfalfa plant tissue analysis of the top 6” of plants showed a similar lack of significant differences in nutrient content between treatments.
Discussion: Significant increases in alfalfa feed quality and moisture was noted in the treated over the untreated check of these fields. The mechanism of this increase is unknown. Increase in alfalfa leafiness, or higher leaf to stem ratio may be occurring in the treated areas. Possible influences from micro-organisms could be better tilthe and aeration of the soil allowing better uptake of water to the plants, giving more lush leafy growth. This experiment was performed during the peak of the desert summer. High heat stress on alfalfa causes a condition locally described as “summer slump”. Alfalfa quality and yields are depressed as plants struggle to survive through the heat. I recommend checking the same plots again in the fall as cool temperatures and un-stressed plants may respond in the treated plots.
Undersander, Dan., et al. Forage Analysis Procedures. Omaha Ne.: National Forage Testing Association. July 1993
Zar, Jerrold H. Biostatistical Analysis. Englewood Cliffs N. J.: Prentice-Hall Inc. 1974
Pure Ag: http://pureagproducts.com/soil%20science/soilscience.html
Yield Estimate: http://aronquist.blogspot.com/2011/07/estimating-hay-yields-on-research.html