Category Archives: Soil Amendments

Importance of Micronutrients – Derek Porter

At a recent conference I attended, one of the presenters made the statement that it doesn’t pay to apply micro nutrients. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this statement and most likely won’t be the last. Not only are micro nutrients crucial to plant growth, in certain cases a micronutrient deficiency could be the most limiting nutrient. Think of a micro nutrient as a spark plug in an engine. It’s the catalyzing agent that makes plant process’s go. Sense they act as catalyzing agents (or signals that stimulate plant process’s and ultimately growth) they are needed in smaller amounts then major or secondary nutrients. Hence why they don’t get the attention they need. The micronutrients to pay closest attention are zinc, boron, manganese, copper, iron, and molybdenum. At Soil Service we offer all essential micro nutrients to fit your nutrient needs. We also offer our Foliar Opp foliar fertilizer for both corn, soybeans, and alfalfa to provide both major and micro nutrients in season at key growth stages.

Here are 12 key points to remember about micro nutrients and their application: 1. Micronutrients can be more limiting in cooler wetter soils early in the season. 2. Having the proper amounts of major, secondary, and micro nutrients is crucial early on in corn when ear size is being determined. 3. Phosphorus and zinc must be in the proper relationship with each other to optimize uptake and utilization. This is why we recommend 1 quart of EDTA chelated zinc in our starter blends. 4. Boron is important in grain fill and nitrogen movement and utilization. 5. Proper levels of boron and copper help fight rust and fungus diseases. 6. Grain test weight can be greatly influenced by proper micronutrient levels. 7. Molybdenum helps nitrogen fixation in legumes. 8. Manganese helps with germination and emergence of young seedlings. 9. Manganese and boron aids in flower and seed set as well as flower retention in soybeans. 10. Implementing an NPK fertilizer with your micronutrients helps with the intake and movement of micronutrients throughout the plant. Our Foliar Opp contains our 3-18-18-1 starter fertilizer plus micronutrients to fit this need. 11. Our Soil Boost Plus helps with the utilization of foliar applied micronutrients with its intake and translocation agents. This product also has pH lowering esters that provides a solution more curtailed to the plants liking. 12. Always make sure you have plenty of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium before you focus heavily on micro nutrients.

Rely on our team at Soil Service to help you customize plans for your soil and plant nutrient needs. Our goal here is help you maximize production and most importantly your profitability. As always thank you for your support of our services and products.


Derek Porter CCA Illinois Salesman

Soil Health Study Update

Do the larger root systems on the plants on the right of the picture below peak your interest? I decided to go into the Soil Health Study field and dig some plants up last Tuesday. I also went to an adjoining field that has not received the Nutrient Recycling Program, but has had cover crops, to see what our soybean root systems looked like. Pleasant surprise! Not only were the roots more robust, but so were the plants themselves. The stalks were larger and there is an average of ten more pods per plant in the study field. This will translate to more yield this fall.



Soil tilth was better, too! I dug three plants each field, and was very careful to try and keep the soil intact. The soil in the SOIL HEALTH STUDY FIELD was extremely loose and very tilthy, I couldn’t hold it together to carry out of the field.  It was no problem with the other non-treated field. It’s no wonder that the roots systems are bigger, it’s easier for them to expand in the healthier soil. This soil will also hold more water during the drier stress times of the growing season.



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DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE SOIL SERVICE, INC. FIELD DAYS AUGUST 17 & 18. We would like to see you all there! Contact me – (573) 680-6951 voice/text or jviertel@soilserviceinc.com for more information    

John Viertel, CCA

Fallow Corn Syndrome: Causes and Prevention

There has been a lot of talk and several articles over the last few weeks concerning the uneven corn, especially in the areas where crops were not planted last year. What gets me is after talking to an independent agronomist yesterday, no one really seems to know what the cause is. Here are a few of the ideas going around:

  • Some think it was because the soil mycorrhiza didn’t have the proper host last summer due to bare ground. (Even where there were a lot of weeds that were allowed to grow.)
  • Some think  it was because we had such a mild winter—that the freezing and thawing did not get rid of some shallow compaction.
  • Others think it was because some growers cut fertility programs to save on costs this spring.
  • Still others think it was just a function of the cooler, wetter spell after such good planting conditions and early corn planting.

Fallow Corn Syndrome

No matter what the cause is, none of us like to see uneven corn in our fields. Some of the tissue tests I have run have shown that the corn (and soil) could have used some extra P & K. Others have shown that both the soil and the corn are very low in sulfur. None had used our Crop Choice® starter program. With our program, your fertility program for next year can be tailored to suit your farm, even field by field, with both a starter recommendation and a soil recommendation. When harvest gets here, it’s a great time to start soil sampling for 2017!

As far as the soil biology is concerned, we have the Nutrient Recycling Program (NRP) to help you increase your  soil mycorrhiza and other beneficial soil bacteria. We are using the Nutrapathic™ Soil Restore and Nutrapathic™ Liquid Bacteria Concentrate, along with Sugar E-Boost® (two of the NRP’s components) when spraying post-emergent herbicides on no-till beans this year where there is a heavy mat of residue. Not only are we hoping to see a faster breakdown in the residue,  we are making sure our soil health is moving in the right direction so as not to have stunted corn.

If you have questions about what has been going on in your field this spring and summer, or want to find out more about any of our programs, you can contact me or browse our website.

Mark your calendar to attend one of our field day sessions Aug. 17 or 18 at the Niota, IL, research farm.  

John Viertel, CCA – Missouri Salesman


Crop Residue: Understanding the Basics from Planting to Nutrient Breakdown

Did you plant soybeans into a lot of residue this year? This practice is becoming more and more common all across the country.

Soybean field with cereal rye cover crop

This soybean field has a cereal rye cover crop.

The picture on the right shows a field that beans were planted into on Monday of this week. While part of the field was rolled, the majority was planted into the standing cereal rye. As you can see, there is a huge amount of cereal rye straw both on the ground and still standing. There should be no worries, right? The question is: what is going to happen to all that residue by this fall, and even next spring for the next crop? Will it break down and be easy to manage? What is happening to the nutrients that that cover crop has sequestered?


The answer is that the cereal rye is going to break down, slowing through the growing season and helping feed the soybeans. Why not help the breakdown with an application of Nutrapathic Liquid Bacteria Concentrate (LBC) and Soil Restorer (SR), along with one or two quarts of Sugar E-Boost®? These can be added with your herbicide application! The LBC and SR add beneficial bacteria and soil mycorrhizae that will aid in the breakdown of residue. The Sugar E-Boost will provide extra food to the bacteria to get them off to a good start and will provide energy to the soybean plants, helping them be more efficient in their nutrient uptake.

Why is this so important? A ton of cereal rye straw has approximately 12 units of N, 3 units of P, 22 units of K, and 2 units of Sulfur. The faster that you can get this to break down and get to your growing crop, the better that crop will do. We have been promoting LBC and SR, along with the Sugar E-Boost, in our Nutrient Recycling Program for a long time. We see better root systems, healthier plants, and better yields where the program is used. This would be a great way to get part of the program going and help YOU take advantage of the nutrients that are in that cover crop residue. All without a separate trip across your field.

Contact me at jviertel@soilserviceinc.com for more information or to get started today.

Reflection on 2015: Calculating the Benefits of CropChoice Starter and Sugar E-Boost

Thank you to everyone for their business over the past year. It has been just a little bit over a year since Andrea and I bought SOIL Service, Inc. We very much appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement that we have heard over the last 13 months. They are more helpful than many of you know. We all appreciate our customers sticking with SOIL Service through the transition.

CropChoice® Starter fertilizer has come down substantially for 2016 when compared to its pricing for 2015. Obviously, grain prices have done the same, and the overall economics for 2016 are not looking as good as we have become accustomed to over the past four or five years. Years of research have shown that the best, most efficient bang for your phosphorus dollar is in-furrow starter fertilizer. At our warehouse research farm, we test many things. Over the past few years, we have been fortunate enough to work with Pioneer on four pack field trials. This year, we had a set of four different hybrids planted side by side, each with and without our CropChoice fertilizer. While we unfortunately placed this trial in a pretty wet part of our plots and didn’t get the overall high yields we have come to expect, the starter fertilizer differences were quite obvious over the course of the entire year. These differences showed up in both visible plant differences during the growing season and at the year-end yield. The average advantage to starter fertilizer over the four plots was an amazing 25 bushels per acre. Below is a graph that maps the results of this trial.

Pioneer Power Pack Test Plot

The average advantage to starter fertilizer over the four plots was 25 bushels per acre.

We saw this kind of result in many places last year, and while we would not usually expect to see a 25 bushel advantage every year, it does show you the potential benefit of starter fertilizer. Year in and year out, we see a definite, profitable advantage to using CropChoice starter fertilizer.

Last year, we also saw a very nice advantage to fungicide in corn applied at VT (tassel). If you are one of our existing customers for fungicide, you will be hearing from your salesmen over the next month about booking and the pre-pay advantages for aerial application. If you are not currently one of our customers, feel free to call us. We would love to visit with you about everything we have to offer. 


One new product that we are happy to announce is the Sugar E-Boost®. It is a liquid sugar product that has the highest sugar concentration available in a liquid form, and it stores very well. We have tested this product in our nutrient recycling program. We have also tested it as an additive to the Foliar Opp®, Slow Release Nitrogen and other foliar products. We have seen a very good response from the Sugar E-Boost. Our plan is to test it extensively this spring in-furrow. If any of you are interested in helping us test Sugar E-Boost, please let one of us know.


As we have closed the book on our first year as owners, it has been nice to take a few minutes and reflect on the year. Again, we would like to thank the customers who have made our transition possible.  Andrea and I would also like to take a minute to thank our employees. They are the ones who have had to put up with us as new owners and work through some of the hiccups that we have created along the way. Thank you for working with us to make this a success, and we look forward to many more years of success with all of you.