Combining strip-till with a plant-growth enhancement product increased corn yields up to 30 bushels per acre in 2010 field tests, says Mike Petersen, agronomist for Lexington, Neb.-based Orthman Mfg.

“We put on 10 ounces per acre of Carbon Boost-S with the fertilizer when strip-tilling with an Orthman 1tRIPr to place the fertilizer 10 inches deep,” says Petersen, whose company conducted the tests. “We also put Carbon Boost-S on with the planter, in-furrow, with the pop-up fertilizer in the seed trench, at 6 ounces per acre.”

Mike Petersen, Orthman Mfg.

The spring strip-tilled corn — a 107-day Hoegemeyer corn hybrid with Carbon Boost-S — yielded 172.4 bushels per acre vs. 142.5 bushels per acre in the untreated check plot, Petersen says.

In the other spring strip-tilled corn, which was a 105-day Hoegemeyer hybrid with Carbon Boost-S, the yield was 166 bushels per acre vs. 138 bushels per acre in the untreated check plot.

“We had significant losses due to water-table and June flooding that diminished our population in the trials,” Petersen says. “The stands were reduced by 12% to 18% due to the standing water. Between 3,500 and 6,200 plants per acre were lost.”

Carbon Boost-S, manufactured by FBSciences, helps plants produce more roots and more chlorophyll, says Mark Seipel, FBSciences’ regional sales manager.

“Plants bring more available nutrients from the soil into the plant,” Seipel says. “The product helps the plant translocate nutrients within the plant.”

Petersen says the soils in this region of Orthman’s farm are high in pH, ranging from 8.1 to 8.5, and Carbon Boost-S has shown effectiveness in high pH soils.

Petersen had two replications at two locations for both the strip-tilled and the in-furrow treatments, along with untreated checks for each treatment.

“The first thing that was noticeable where Carbon Boost-S was used was that the corn was greener, healthier and taller than the corn that was untreated in both the strip-tilled and the in-furrow treatment with the planter,” Petersen says.

“Second, the number of roots per plant was dramatically improved with Carbon Boost-S vs. the untreated plots. There were 48 roots on the strip-tilled corn with Carbon Boost-S vs. 35 on the corn in the untreated check.

“Also, corn yields where Carbon Boost-S was strip-tilled with fertilizer were about 17% higher than the untreated check plot, while yield with the in-furrow treatment was 4% to 5% greater than the untreated plants.”

More Roots, More Yield

Having 48 roots vs. 35 gives a corn plant greater ability to withstand stress, Petersen says.

“A corn plant has the potential of five rooting nodes, each having the potential of a minimum of 12 roots,” he says. “The top two nodes that are closest to the surface — nodes 4 and 5 — have the potential of having up to 16 roots each.

“The more nutrient and water-uptake channels a corn plant has in its roots, the healthier the plant should be. It will be able to take up more water and nutrients and grow better if it has 48 roots vs. 35.”

By enhancing the number of roots and root health, Carbon Boost-S creates a positive synergy with strip-till, Petersen says.

“In the strip-tilled soil, roots travel through less resistant soil,” he says. “The combination of strip-till and stimulated root production is the best of both worlds.”

BOOSTING CORN YIELDS. Using a plant growth-enhancing product called Carbon Boost-S increased corn yields at Orthman Mfg. Co's farm in Nebraska by up to 30 bushels in a 2010 test. "The corn on the right did not have the Carbon Boost-S. The corn on the left did," says Mike Petersen, Orthman Mfg.'s precision tillage agronomist.

This year, Orthman will do the field test again with Carbon Boost-S, but Petersen will only do it with spring strip-till due to the significant yield increase in 2010.

“We will put on 16 ounces per acre instead of 10 ounces in the spring strip-till,” Petersen says.

How Carbon Boost-S Works

Carbon Boost-S helps plants translocate nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrients, and can be used with dry and liquid fertilizer, Siepel says. Rates in corn are 8 to 12 ounces per application.

“Carbon Boost-S is a highly refined compound that FBSciences derived from a unique source that works inside the plant to help in plant growth and stress mitigation,” says Seipel, who spent 24 years working with strip-till equipment with Yetter Mfg. and Redball before going to work for FB Sciences in 2008.

Farmers can use Carbon Boost-S when strip-tilling in the spring, with in-furrow, sidedress and foliar applications, and with herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

“We like to have Carbon Boost-S in the plant as early as possible in the plant’s life in order to increase the yield-set potential,”  Seipel says.

Because this timing is important, the company doesn’t recommend the product be used with strip-tilling fertilizer applications in the fall.

“For in-furrow application, we recommend 6 ounces per acre,” Seipel says. “For sidedressing, we recommend at least 8 ounces per acre. If you broadcast Carbon Boost-S with a nutrient, we suggest 10 ounces per acre, but you can use more.”