Annual Agronomy News > Envita: The Agronomy Academy Summer Project of 2021

Envita: The Agronomy Academy Summer Project of 2021

Dec 01, 2021

Nitrogen is one of three macronutrients along with phosphorus and potassium that are needed in large quantities in corn production. Even though nitrogen is one of the most common elements on earth, it is one of the most common nutrients to be deficient in plants because of its vulnerability to loss. Corn plants can be supplied with nitrogen from things such as manure, terminated legumes such as alfalfa and clover, and nitrogen fertilizers such as urea, ammonium sulfate, and UAN liquid nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen from these sources are subjected to losses and differences in availability due to weather and soil properties.
 
Recently, there has been research devoted to finding ways in which corn can fix its own nitrogen due to concerns of nitrogen losses and its effects on the environment. A few years ago, researchers from the University of Wisconsin- Madison identified varieties of tropical corn in Mexico that can make their own nitrogen with the help of bacteria that live within the mucus like gel that the corn plant secretes. Currently, research is underway to determine if this trait can be incorporated into modern hybrids found in the Midwest. It is also known that sugarcane, a tropical grass crop grown for sugar, can also fix its own nitrogen with the help of the nitrogen fixing bacteria G. diazotrophicus that lives in the spaces between the cells of sugarcane stems. The nitrogen fixing process as found in sugarcane is similar to the legume crops of alfalfa, soybean, and clover except the sugarcane does not have nodules on its roots like the legume crops.
 
This past summer the Country Visions Cooperative (CVC) Agronomy Academy, which consists of the newest agronomists at the Coop, conducted research trials across the Country Visions trade territory with a product called Envita. Envita is designed to help corn fix its own nitrogen using the same bacteria that helps to fix nitrogen in sugarcane. The team that was part of this research project included Zach Coffeen and Tristan Jenkins from the Ripon location, Meghan Becker and Katie Kaczor from the Fond du Lac location, Trevor Wittmus from Chilton, Conner Geurts from Wrightstown, and Brittany Newman and Kevin Mueller from the Malone location. These individuals worked with producers with corn fields that compared Envita treated corn to untreated corn. Envita can be applied two ways. It can be added to a pop-up liquid starter like 6-24-6 and applied in furrow on the seed at planting or foliar applications can be made by mixing with herbicide, a foliar nutrient package, or just water from V2 up to V6 stage corn.
 
In these trials, growers maintained their traditional nitrogen programs; they did not cut nitrogen rates when using the product. The corn fields were monitored from the time they were planted until they were harvested. In several cases, more root development and larger plant size was noted by the V2 stage (~4” tall) with the Envita treated corn. In all of the trials, tissue samples were collected between V7-V12 and in some trials additional samples were collected at the R1 silk stage to determine nitrogen levels in the plants. Overall, there was a trend toward higher nitrogen levels in Envita treated corn versus the untreated corn at advanced growth stages (V12-R1). Several agronomists noted less leaf firing of the lower leaves in Envita treated corn compared to the untreated corn during the mid -late August time period. As corn approaches maturity, plants stressed for nitrogen will move nitrogen from the lower cornstalk to the ear and firing is a symptom of this process occurring.  During mid to late September, stalk nitrate samples were collected in some of the plots one to two weeks after black layer as the nitrate concentration in the lower portion of the corn stalk is a good indicator of the nitrogen status of the crop. When corn plants have more than sufficient nitrogen for maximum yield, nitrate accumulates in the lower stalk. The Envita treated plants had 2 to 3 times more nitrate in the stalks compared to the untreated corn. Two growers in the Malone area thought the Envita treated corn had healthier, stronger stalks at harvest time, an important factor in standability and combining ease. Currently eight plots have been harvested with six of those plots having positive results with Envita applications. The fields with positive results have had yield increases in the 4-9% range or 8-20 bushel range. There is still data from a couple more plots to be evaluated.
 
Data from the trials show favorable yield results and return on investment whether Envita was applied in furrow or as a foliar application. According to the Envita sales literature, the product on average produces an 8-bushel yield increase in corn 73% of the time; this is similar to results from the CVC trials. One could think of Envita as a risk management tool when dealing with nitrogen’s potential loss and availability in the soil for corn plants. It could be a tool to provide corn with nitrogen late in the season when nitrogen supplies in the soil may be dwindling. Dr Fred Below’s team down at the University of Illinois have also done research on this product as well the past two years in his omission trials and have found excellent results with Envita to the tune of 10.5 bushels/acre yield increase.
 
With high nitrogen fertilizer costs for 2022 this might be a great time to do some experimenting with Envita.  Thoughts about this product for next year:
 
  1. Apply Envita to an entire corn field and apply nitrogen fertilizer at different rates to determine if fertilizer rates can be reduced.
  2. Soybean seed is inoculated with rhizobia bacteria to promote nodulation where fields don’t have a history of soybean production. Sometimes inoculation does not do enough to ensure adequate nodulation. Can Envita make up the nitrogen gap if rhizobia bacteria populations are inadequate?
  3. Apply Envita to winter wheat. Will the Envita fix extra nitrogen that provides a yield increase to this crop?
 
Please contact your agronomist to discuss how Envita could help bridge the nitrogen gaps that you may have on the farm.
 


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