Troubleshooting Soil Problems with BeCrop
by Gus Plamann on 05/Apr/23
How to Identify and Address Soil Health Issues
BeCrop technology has introduced a new feature that can now provide specific answers to farmers, agronomists, and retailers regarding on-farm challenges such as disease problems, low yield, and management issues.
The BeCrop Tests are tailored to the specific question being asked, and the results provide crucial feedback on how to improve. The new feature is designed to help farmers and agronomists make more informed decisions about their farming practices, leading to increased productivity and profitability.
The three main categories of BeCrop Tests include BeCrop Yield, BeCrop Disease, and BeCrop Management.
BeCrop Yield: Recommendations for increasing production
How BeCrop Yield Could Help:
Problem: A grower had a problem struggling with yield limitations in a field where they had dedicated major investments in fertility inputs for several years.
Action: The grower could take action by collecting several BeCrop Tests within the low-yield field to determine the biological bottlenecks limiting yield.
Solution: The field may show the nitrogen pathway and overall biocontrol rate are problematic metrics that can be addressed through management practices or biological Ag inputs
If a soil biology analysis reveals areas for improvement, there are several recommendations that crop advisors can make to increase crop production.
Here are a few possible recommendations based on a soil biology analysis:
- Increase soil organic matter: Soil organic matter provides a source of nutrients for crops and improves soil structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient retention. Recommending adding organic amendments such as compost, manure, or cover crops can increase soil organic matter and improve soil health.
- Adjust nutrient management: Soil biology analysis can help to identify nutrient deficiencies or imbalances in the soil. Recommending adjustments to nutrient management practices, such as applying specific types or fertilizer rates, can help optimize nutrient availability and improve crop yields.
- Introduce microbial inoculants: Microbial inoculants such as mycorrhizal fungi, rhizobia, or compost tea can introduce beneficial microorganisms to the soil and help to promote a healthy soil microbiome. These can be especially beneficial if the soil analysis reveals low microbial activity or an imbalance in the microbial community.
- Promote plant diversity: Incorporating diverse crops or cover crops into the rotation can help to promote soil biology by providing a range of different nutrients and root exudates that support a diverse microbial community. This can also help to reduce soil-borne pests and diseases.
Overall, a soil biology analysis can help crop advisors identify areas for soil health improvement and make recommendations to increase crop production. By promoting a healthy soil microbiome and optimizing soil nutrients and structure, farmers can improve crop yields and long-term soil health.
BeCrop Disease: Recommendations for soil health
How BeCrop Disease Could Help:
Problem: A vegetable grower who faces erratic fungal disease outbreaks across their fields has used preventative fungicides for years, but would like to reduce their fungicide inputs to reduce harm to beneficial soil microbes.
Action: Collect BeCrop samples in each field of interest to measure soilborne pathogen levels and other microbial functions that reduce disease risk.
Solution: The BeCrop Tests may reveal higher levels of fungal pathogen risk in some fields, or higher levels of natural biocontrol provided by beneficial microbes. This data can inform a grower’s crop protection program and help them determine if it makes sense to wean off of conventional fungicide usage, use a biofungicide, or incorporate other practices.
Soil disease can be a significant problem for farmers, especially in crops that are grown continuously in the same location over several seasons. Soil biology analysis can provide valuable information about the microbial community in the soil and suggest management practices to reduce soil-borne diseases.
Here are some soil disease reduction recommendations for soil health based on a soil biology analysis:
- Crop rotation: Crop rotation effectively reduces soil-borne diseases by interrupting the life cycle of soil-borne pathogens. The use of cover crops, green manure crops, and legumes can also help to reduce soil-borne diseases by promoting microbial diversity.
- Soil solarization: Soil solarization involves covering the soil with a clear plastic tarp during the hot summer months. This can help to raise soil temperatures to a level that kills soil-borne pathogens and pests.
- Biofumigation: Biofumigation involves planting crops that contain natural compounds that help to control soil-borne diseases. Crops such as mustard, radish, and other brassicas are often used for this purpose.
- Organic amendments: Organic amendments such as compost, manure, and cover crops can help to improve soil health and reduce soil-borne diseases. These amendments can promote a healthy soil microbiome and suppress soil-borne pathogens.
- Biological control: Biological control involves using beneficial microbes or natural enemies to control soil-borne pathogens. This can include the use of microbial inoculants or the introduction of beneficial insects.
- Fungicide use: Fungicides can effectively control soil-borne diseases, but their use should be balanced with other management practices to avoid resistance development and negative impacts on beneficial fungi.
Overall, a soil biology analysis can help to identify areas where soil-borne diseases are a problem and suggest management practices to reduce disease incidence. By promoting a healthy soil microbiome, reducing pathogen pressure, and using integrated pest management practices, farmers can improve soil health and reduce the incidence of soil-borne diseases in their crops.
BeCrop Management Practices: Recommendations for farming practices
How BeCrop Management Could Help:
Problem: A grower wants to compare fields with different management programs to determine which field shows superior soil health and nutrient cycling
Action: Collect several BeCrop Tests in both fields and compare the results
Solution: One field may show much higher levels of P and K solubilizing microbes, improved carbon pathways, and higher functionality
A soil biology analysis can provide valuable information about the health and diversity of the microbial community in the soil.
Based on the results of the analysis, here are some recommendations for improving farming practices:
- Apply a biological inoculant: There are many biological agricultural input products available from reputable retailers that contain microbes capable of solubilizing P and K to unlock these nutrients and release them in plant available forms.
- Promote diverse crop rotations: Planting diverse crop rotations can help to promote microbial diversity in the soil. A diverse rotation can help promote nutrient availability by expanding the range of nutrient cycling functions performed by soil microbes.
- Use conservation tillage practices: Reduced tillage practices, such as no-till or strip-till, can help to preserve soil structure and promote microbial activity. Reduced tillage can also reduce soil erosion and conserve soil moisture.
- Adjust irrigation practices: Irrigation practices can impact soil biology by influencing soil moisture and oxygen levels. Recommending adjustments to irrigation practices, such as drip irrigation or mulching, can help to maintain consistent soil moisture and promote beneficial microbial activity.
Overall, a soil biology analysis can provide valuable information about the health and diversity of the microbial community in the soil. By promoting soil health through the use of practices such as increased soil organic matter, diverse crop rotations, and conservation tillage, farmers can improve soil health and promote sustainable and profitable farming practices.
BeCrop Reports: Customized Solutions for Specific Farming Challenges
With BeCrop Reports, farmers and crop advisors can review and analyze results easily. BeCrop Users can compare different areas and calculations and get the answers to the questions they started with.
- Visual analysis to better understand results
- Filter results
- Compare and contrast different areas/projects
- Easy to understand scores and metrics and areas/issues to focus
BeCrop is making it easier for farmers and agronomists to identify specific on-farm challenges and implement solutions to improve soil health and crop productivity. By prioritizing soil health, farmers and agronomists can contribute to a more sustainable and productive agricultural industry that benefits the environment, the economy, and society as a whole.