Soil Biology Revolution
"I am very interested in carbon chemistry and its effect on conventional NPK utilization, but it was very tough to put a finger on the impact of raw or even composted manure," said Baumberger. "Perfect Blend made my job easy. The nutrients are in a form that is easy to handle, offer a uniform consistency and will provide predictable results."
Use of kinetic composting
Much of that handling ease is due to the company's high-speed kinetic composting that breaks down ingredients to a consistent molecular structure before further processing. Baumberger wanted this consistency and ease of handling compared with mined gypsum that varies from dust to pebble size. He saw that the Perfect Blend process could deliver it.
"I believed if we could get carbon, gypsum and phosphate to work together, we would see tremendous improvement in crop nutrition and health," said Baumberger. "I told Perfect Blend management their triple four with added gypsum would be the best of both worlds."
The company responded with a biotic-calcium, and last fall Baumberger initiated a study with the new product, making fall applications for a group of progressive growers. Farms included a wide variety of sizes and most crops grown in the Columbia River basin, from grass for seed to row crops like peas, corn and potatoes as well as timothy and alfalfa hay. Yield data is yet to be gathered, but visual indicators are positive enough that growers have said they want more of the product.
Success has been shown in using biotic fertilizer in various crop production including fields of potatoes. "The formulation was easy to handle with standard equipment," said Baumberger. "The gypsum is giving the soil the conditioning and water penetration we expected, and the biotic fertilizer is improving plant health and vigor, producing a beautiful dark green color. The increased plant health and nutrition is making it easier to manage diseases too."
Bill Cisneros, marketing vice president, Perfect Blend, said the biotic-calcium, like the urea-supplemented products, is opening new markets for the company. Product use is expanding from high-value crops to conventional cropland use, and distribution is set to expand from the Pacific Northwest into the Midwest. The company also has lowered cost of production with a fourth generation of process improvements. USDA and other studies are reinforcing what Baumberger and current growers have experienced, showing improved quality and yield with the biotic approach.
"The mindset of the agricultural community has been very fixed on isolationist chemistry," said Cisneros. "We offer a systems approach that includes readily available macronutrients, pH amendments and micronutrients—in some cases infused with microorganisms. We are also looking at other inoculants and multiple forms of calcium as well as a biotic-phosphorus."