Are You Ready to Properly Execute the Mineralisation of Vegetable Residues? | BIO energy

Are You Ready to Properly Execute the Mineralisation of Vegetable Residues?

2019-07-23

The combine harvesters have moved from the rapeseed fields to the winter wheat crops in more than one farm.

Some farms still have some rapeseed left – it is a very good sign, as the productivity of the rapeseed that remains green for a long time should be greater. The modest fertility of the first winter wheat was no surprising, as well. A lot of farmers are wondering what the reason behind such low fertility is. The answer is easy to find: the root rot can be clearly seen, and it always has a negative effect on plant productivity. There are ‘specialists’ out there who claim that it has nothing to do with diseases and is instead one of the consequences of the recent drought. This drought was one of the factors that precipitated the proliferation of pathogens. We will talk more about such problems and our observations in the future, and we will also explaining them in detail in our seminars.

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Agriculture has been developing at an extremely fast pace lately – the fertility of the plants is growing and so is the quantity of vegetable residues. The majority of developed countries have implemented a simple strategy of returning their vegetable residues to the soil a long time ago. Returning the straw that has been properly prepared to the ground is extremely important because it restores the balance of organic carbon and other organic materials in the soil. However, straw mineralisation is a long process, the straw gets in the way of tillage and might preclude other plants from growing properly, the emission of gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect has also been emphasised lately. The good news is that these negative phenomena only come into effect when the mineralisation is slow and that is why our farmers have encountered the problem of returning the straw to the soil. Countries with highly developed agriculture have created technologies that are capable of accelerating the process of mineralisation and these technologies are successfully used by local farmers. Needless to say, mistakes have been made as well. First of all, it was thought that the best solution was to granulate the straw and plough it back deep into the soil, but specialists quickly noticed that such technology required a great deal of energy, while the straw that had been ploughed back into the soil prevented the movement of water and soil gases. This technology is still popular in Lithuania – the straw is often ploughed back into the soil because people believe that a number of problems will be avoided by doing so, but the practice has shown that it only causes more issues in the long run.

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The interest in the agents of vegetable residue destruction has been growing all over the world. First of all, the use of destructors helps farmers to considerably lower the cost of such tasks. These destructors are also easy to use and environmentally friendly. Some of you might wonder why we need to use such destructors if these micro‑organisms are already present in the soil. Research has shown that some of the micro-organisms that take part in the mineralisation of vegetable residues are marked by poor adhesion, their colonies are not active enough and, consequently, the resulting natural mineralisation of vegetable residues is limited.  Another factor that might limit the process of mineralisation is the use of plant protection means. Let’s take an example that is familiar to us all. The majority of us ferment cucumbers. If we are using cucumbers that have been sprayed with pesticides, we notice that the processes involved in fermentation are different: there is an unpleasant smell, blue mould appears, etc. On the other hand, if we use organic cucumbers, the same process is altered. It allows us to conclude that similar processes take place in the soil as well. The use of fungicides results in some of the good micro‑organisms being destroyed and the mineralisation of vegetable residues becoming slower. Our goal was to find a way to increase the adhesion of relevant micro-organisms as much as possible by incorporating straw into the soil. Research has revealed that the use of biological products results in the growth of good micro-organism colonies on the surface of the straw, as well as faster degradation of vegetable residues.

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It is crucial for us to promote the degradation of vegetable residues because the proliferation of plant diseases can quickly become uncontrollable in highly specialised crop rotations. Even though most ‘specialists’ are still reluctant to talk about the widespread increase in Fusarium rot, it is indisputable. Such reluctance might stem from the fact that there are no effective chemical means of managing this issue – moreover, research has shown that nitrogenous fertilisers stimulate the growth of such rot. In the absence of resistant species and biological preparations, chemical protection – even if it was not effective enough – was the only solution. Now we see that in spite of seed treatment involving highly effective preparations, the plants still display signs of root rot infection in the earliest stages of growth. It means that our soil is filled with pathogens. The potential of biological preparations is huge because informed consumers are nowadays choosing pesticide-free foods more and more often. The farmers are under pressure to limit the use of fertilisers and pesticides. It is no surprise then that the interest in various alternatives to the use of agrochemicals has been steadily growing. We think that biological control of fusariosis is a strong possibility, as good micro-organisms tend to colonise the rhizosphere of the plant root and curb the processes involved in the growth of pathogens.  Together with other specialists, we often wonder what would cause us to make the right decisions instead of experimenting and hoping that the following year will somehow turn out to be better. Having threshed the first fields, some of the farmers reported that they had lost 30-40 per cent of the overall yield due to the widespread rot. This number was concerned with the damaged plants that had nevertheless survived until harvest. Some of the plants had simply disappeared over the course of the vegetative stage. ‘Specialists’ claim that this is the result of drought, but we are convinced that environmental factors served only to reveal the crux of the issue. Other farms might have suffered smaller losses. After counting the damaged plants in several farms, we determined that the average quantity of lost plants was 60–100 per one square metre. That means 600 000–1 000 000 damaged plants per hectare. If the productivity of an ear is only one gram, the overall loss measures 0.6–1.0 t/ha. Sure, some of you might say that such a loss is not something that is worth worrying about and changing our habits for. Nevertheless, this is just one of the many components of possible losses – we should not forget that some of the yield tends to be lost for no particular reason. The overall loss is considerable, and we often pay too much attention to insignificant technological issues.

We work in a region that has a dry climate and we see ways to control the potential of our yield. With the help of the right technology, we can thresh as much as 13 t/ha of wheat during a dry period.  We would not mention these numbers if our farm was not visited by at least three delegations of Lithuanian farmers and scientists. They saw the crops and analysed the schemes concerning tillage, fertilisation and the use of biological preparations. There are plenty of opportunities – all we have to do is take the chance and stop hoping that ‘the following year will somehow turn out to be better’. We would like to remind you that biological preparations never produce the desired results at lightning speed – all natural processes are slow but stable. We should start by activating the mineralisation of vegetable residues and cleansing the soil. Our recommendations for the  mineralisation of vegetable residues are as follows: standard – Ruinex combined with Penergetic and Azofix; for recropping wheat – Ruinex, Penergetic, Bactoforce; for sowing directly without tillage – Ruinex, Penergetic, humic acids (the micro-organisms included in the preparation receive food in the initial stage and are better at sticking to vegetable residues). We will share more observations with all of you soon. 


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