Why accelerate the decay process?

As the decay organisms become more active, they feed on nitrogen and other soil nutrients, and these resources are not available for crop production. This figure illustrates the relationship between the residue decay process (brown line) and nutrient availability (green line).  The amount of available nitrogen and other nutrients is lowest when the decay process is at its peak. If the decay process is still underway when the next crop is growing, then the nutrients in the soil and the residue are tied up. By speeding up the completion of the decay process, Chandler Biocat 1000 helps to make sure these nutrients are not tied up and are available for the next crop.

Decay Process

What is the nutrient content of crop residue?

The following table lists the typical dry tonnage and the pounds of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in one acre of post-harvest crop residue:

Crop Dry tons of residue Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium
Corn stalks (150 BPA) 5 tons 100 37 145
Corn stalks (over 200 BPA) 10 tons 200 74 290
Soybean residue 2 tons 90 20 50
Oat straw and stubble 2 tons 25 15 80
Wheat straw and stubble 3 tons 40 10 70

Higher temperatures increase biological decay activity

Nutrient Availability

To make sure the decay process is completed quickly, apply Biocat 1000 as soon after harvest as possible. The residue will decay as long as there is ample moisture and the temperature is above 38┬░ F. As illustrated in the figure below, the amount of biological activity in the soil doubles for each 10 degree increase in the temperature, so the decay process will be completed sooner if Biocat 1000 is applied when temperatures are warmer.

However, if the residue is very dry or the temperature is low, consider applying Biocat 1000 at a later time. We explain the timing of Biocat 1000 under drought or late-season conditions in our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below.

How long does it take to decay the residue?

The time required to complete the residue decay process depends on several factors, including temperature, moisture, the amount and type of residue present, and the amount of available nutrients to feed the decay organisms. For example, we have seen heavy corn residue that was treated soon after harvest under ideal conditions (adequate moisture and high temperatures), and most of the leaves and stalk centers (pith) were decayed in about 40 days. The stalk hulls remained to protect the soil over winter, and the remaining residue was fully decayed by planting time. However, as the temperature or moisture levels decline, the decay process slows and takes longer to complete.

For More Information

For more information on Chandler Biocat 1000, call (309) 659-7773 or e-mail info@midwestbioman.com.