Dave de Vries

Success...one farm at a time.

Dave de Vries

Tap my brain.

 

Someone once told me that information is worth nothing until its shared. I know people that hoard information because they think that, if they keep it to themselves, it has value or gives them special power. However, I believe that information only gains value when it is given to those who need it. My philosophy has always been one of open and unbridled sharing of information as I beleive that knowledge is power and that the best decisions are made with the best information. If I can empower you, as a farmer, with the information that I have, you will be able to make better decisions about your farm.

31January

The Value of EC Soil Mapping

Fertilizer Efficiency Enhanced

The Value of EC Soil Mapping

Fertilizer costs and dwindling world mineral reserves are driving the need for better fertilizer efficiency. To make fertilizer applications more efficient, you need to understand the differences that exist in the makeup of your soils across a given field. Using a measurement of the electrical conductivity, we can understand how fertilizers applications can be tailored so that you don't apply too much fertilizer on one section of a field and not enough on another.

Soil EC is a measurement of how much electrical current a soil can conduct. Soil textures (sand, silt, loam or clay) conduct different amounts of current. For example, smaller clay particles conduct more current than do larger silt and sand particles.The EC Mapping device is produced by Veris Technologies, Inc. Soil EC is detected and captured by this machine as it is pulled through the field as seen in the photo. Veris products are of excellent quality, and are being used in over 25 countries, world-wide, to map farms with the accuracy and intensity you need to capture the soil variability that exists on your farm.
Soil EC mapping creates a comprehensive picture of the soil EC, as represented in"zones" of your farm. 

We're now offering Soil EC Zone Mapping at a rate of $15 per acre.  As soon as the ground thaws and its safe to be in the field, we can build Soil EC Maps for your fields.

Posted in Dave de Vries

09October

Stress Reduces Potential

Early stress has the largest impact on yield.

Stress Reduces Potential

Did you know that, on average, most seeds only yield between 25 and 40 percent of their full potential? We know this from witnessing record yields on commodity crops such as canola, corn or beans. But why aren't more farmers producing higher yields? The answer is stress. There are many sources of stress for a plant. Some of these include moisture, temperature, nutrient deficiency, light, pests, etc. As we walk through the plant growth cycle, we can examine the most common of these stress factors.

At each stage of a plant's life, various stresses have different effects. It may seem overly obvious but, we all know that if a seed doesn't get enough water, it won't germinate. Less obvious potential stresses are soil termperature, and nutrient availability. Availability of nutrients is a key factor for every stage of a plan's life.

In corn, much of the plant's yield has been determined before V3. This is why it is very important to make sure that the early stages of the plant's life are low in stress.

In soybeans, the flowering stage is critical time for setting pods. The more flowers, the more pods are set. The more pods that are set, the higher the potential yield.

Successful stress management is the best way to decrease yield loss.

Posted in Dave de Vries

15May

Regulating Moisture Availability

Saving for a not so rainy day

Did you ever wonder why some fields have pools of water standing in them in the spring while others, which may be right across the road, do not?

Its all about water management. Mother Nature dumps a pile of rain in the spring and whether your fields have adequate infiltration and water hold capacity characteristics is nearly 100% dictated by the amount of organic matter contained therein.

When Mother nature gives the gift of rain, the soil will do one of two things: soak it up or let it run off. Once rain runs off your field, it can never be brought back. If your soil soaks it up, it stores it until it needs it during the dry part of the season.  If it runs off, it is lost for the season and your crops will suffer.

Imagine this: every 1% of organic matter in each acre of soil will store over 68,000 litres of water.

What is the % of organic matter contained in your soils? If its below 8%, you have room for imrovement. Using cover crops helps to limit the amount of organic matter that oxidizes from the soil when it is bare during non-growing parts of the year. Incorporating crop residues and feeding soil microbes so they break down this organic material into organic matter quicker will help to build your organic matter levels faster.

Expect the building of organic matter to be a long and difficult process.  Ask yourself in everything that you do. "Is this helping to build organic matter?" If the answer is "no", then stop doing whatever it is. 

Posted in Dave de Vries

15May

Colony Collapse Disorder

Nobody Left to Pollinate our Crops

Colony Collapse Disorder

One of my friends in the U.S. keeps bees for his small orchard. His grandfather was a beekeeper nearly his entire adult life since 1965 and so my friend has seen the good days of beekeeping and now is experiencing the bad days. This past winter, he lost two healthy hives. This spring, we opened the hives and found all the bees there, but all dead. He's done research as to what may have happened to them but some of the pieces just don't fit together. What's happening to our bee population, our primary crop pollinators, is shocking and disturbing.

I understand from talking with him that almost a third of managed U.S. honey bees died last winter, according to a new survey of commercial and home beekeepers. That's more than triple the losses of 5 to 10 percent that used to be normal for beekeepers before 2005 — and double the 15 percent that beekeepers say is acceptable for their businesses to continue unharmed.

The finding marks a disturbing trend among honey bees: each winter since 2006, the Bee Informed Partnership has documented losses of 21.9 to 36 percent of U.S. hives.

The large-scale die offs — attributed in part to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder — have gained widespread attention in the recent months. That's partly because if the deaths continue, they could have a major impact on the nation's food system. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 71 percent of the world's most widely-consumed crops are pollinated by bees — and these crops are worth at least $207 billion. But this year, bee losses caused farmers to come extremely close to a pollination crisis, leading to warnings about impending food insecurity.

But what is "Colony Collapse Disorder"? The malady is almost certainly due to combination of factors — including the Varroa mite, a single-celled parasite known as Nosema, several varieties of viruses, and pesticides. Researchers point to one particular class of pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, as a prime suspect.

Posted in Dave de Vries

14May

Starting at the Beginning

a seedling's needs

Starting at the Beginning

Think of your young seedling as a vulnerable baby that can not fend for itself. The seedling needs to be provided with many things, the most important of which includes adequate moisture, proper temperature and a steady diet of balanced nutrition. Once germinated, a seed draws nutrients immediately from its storage tank - the energetic material of the seed, itself. But, the seed's storage tank is small and only has enough energy to sustain the development of a few small root hairs and an upward shoot and then, it is quickly depleted. After that, a seedling needs to get nutrients from external inputs.


As a farmer, you can't control temperature or moisture. But you can control nutrition. You have two choices. You can supply nutrition in the form of available fertilizer, supplied directly to the plant or you can foster a healthy soil environment that can supply the tender plant with what it needs.


Most soils are chock full of nutrients. But most of these nutrients are in a raw or reserved form in the soil. Rock Phosphate and Calcium are hard granular materials. So, how does a plant eat a bunch of rocks? It doesn't. A healthy soil environment contains an army of microbes that convert the "rocks" to an available form. This process is called solubilizing. With traditional high-salt fertilizers, chemical processes have been employed to do the job of the microbes in order to extract nutrients from the "rocks" and make them available to plants. But the chemical forms of these nutrients kill the soil's microbes. So, this leaves your plants dependent on you to supply all their nutrients and leaves you with a dead soil.
Use of chemical fertilizers leaves you with a soil system that is dependent on purchased inputs. In addition, it is more difficult to achieve balance with purchased inputs. Imbalances mean a combination of deficiency and excess which translate to unhealthy plants that are more susceptible to disease and insect pressure.


Dead soil has no water holding capacity, is easily compacted so roots can't navigate through it, and fosters no beneficial microbes and other organisms like worms that serve as your fertilizer production army.


Dead soil is bad for good farming. Make your soil come alive again by reducing chemical fertilizers and other chemical applications. Stimulate the microbes in your soil by feeding them with organic material. Make sure your soil contains the micronutrients that enable microbes to complete critical enzymatic processes and allow them to digest and release nutrients available to your plants.


Stimulate dead or unhealthy soils with an inoculant of our TrueBlend Soil Rejuvenator to activate the army of little workers under your feet. Then, feed your plants with natural, high quality, highly available nutrients to give them the jump they need while your microbes are building their strength. Consider spraying Agri-Gro FoliarBlend bio-stimulant or our comprehensive, all-natural TrueBlend Planting and Foliar solutions in the row at planting or on your new crops as a foliar for a strong start.

Posted in Dave de Vries

06February

Viral Gene in GMO foods could promote disease

The only answer is natural food

Viral Gene in GMO foods could promote disease

I just read an article about Viral genes that exist in genetically modified foods. The article was very distrbing to me.  I have read a lot about genetically modified foods but this article really highlighted for me that there are more far-reaching implications of genetic modification than any of us could ever conceive.

Genetic manipulation of crops, and food animals is a dangerous game. The research that was discussed in this article reveals that the assumptions that have been made about how genetic modification works and what effects they really have are both incomplete and flawed. 

Essentially, viruses that attack a plant would not normally attack a human or animal. However, geneticially modified foods containing genes that contain viruses that are eaten by animals or people can perform the same duty that they perform in plants - - "viral genes function to disable their host in order to facilitate pathogen invasion. Often, this is achieved by incapacitating specific anti-pathogen defenses."

Think about the implication of eating food that is programmed to diable your own natural defenses against pathogenic material like cancer.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself and think twice about eating, planting, growing or feeding genetically modified material. See below for the link to the article.

Posted in Dave de Vries

05February

A Nutrient On Its Own Has Little Value

Balance is Key

A Nutrient On Its Own Has Little Value

Understanding that an excess or deficiency of one nutrient can cause the deficiency of another, it is critical to watch balance between minerals rather than to focus on the specific level of a particular nutrient. There is typically a large focus on Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium but, we believe that the four major nutrients to watch are those that govern and enable photosynthesis.

A plant's productivity is dependent on its photosynthetic potential. A plant whose photosynthesis is hindered by nutrient deficiency is limited in its ability to function at a basic level. The four major nutrients that enable photosynthesis are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and boron. Focus should be on enhancing availability of these elements. If there is ample reserve of the nutrients, but availability (water soluble) of any one of these nutrients is low, then we must focus on the factors that unlock nutrients trapped in the soil. This includes looking at nutrient synergists and antagonists that may be contributing to the limitation of the nutrient(s).

To achieve better balance, we recommend that you promote the constant and consistent supply of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and boron. Knowing that each of these elements has synergists, it is especially important to be mindful of the relationship between Phosphorus and Magnesium, and between Calcium and Boron.

Here are a few things to consider:
Calcium is necessary for the transport of all other nutrients in the plant.
Calcium should be balanced with potassium, magnesium and sodium.
Too much potassium inhibits the uptake of both Calcium and Magnesium.
A plant needs Boron in order to take in Calcium.
Zinc is necessary for Phosphorus uptake . Phosphorus to Zinc ratio needs to be below 10:1 in order to avoid Phosphorus or Zinc tie-up.
Zinc is key in enzymatic processes, especially leaf sizing for optimal photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is responsible for 95% of plant productivity.
The water holding capacity of humates is 6:1 so keeping all the humus you can is crucial to optimal water management and conservation.

The Value of Individual Nutrients is Zero

Understanding that an excess or deficiency of one nutrient can cause the deficiency of another, it is critical to watch balance between minerals rather than to focus on the specific level of a particular nutrient.  There is typically a large focus on Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium but, we believe that the four major nutrients to watch are those that govern and enable photosynthesis. 

 

A plant’s productivity is dependent on its photosynthetic potential.  A plant whose photosynthesis is hindered by nutrient deficiency is limited in its ability to function at a basic level.  The four major nutrients that enable photosynthesis are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and boron. Focus should be on enhancing availability of these elements.  If there is ample reserve of the nutrients, but availability (water soluble) of any one of these nutrients is low, then we must focus on the factors that unlock nutrients trapped in the soil. This includes looking at the nutrient synergists and antagonists that may be contributing to the limitation of the nutrient(s).

 

To achieve better balance, we recommend that you promote the constant and consistent supply of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and boron.  Knowing that each of these elements has synergists, it is especially important to be mindful of the relationship between Phosphorus and Magnesium, and between Calcium and Boron.

Posted in Dave de Vries

18January

The Value of the Earthworm

Fish Bait or Fertilizer Factory

The Value of the Earthworm

If you have ever played in the dirt, or have gone fishing as a kid, you will know what an earthworm looks like. But, have you ever wondered what their role in life might be? I guess if they are used as fish bait, one might think that their role could be to help catch a wonderfully healthy supper. While that might be true, I was thinking more along the lines of what their biological role is in agriculture, as a whole.

As a farmer, you need to understand and appreciate these great helpers for the value that they bring. Of the many wonderful benefits that earthworms will give you, if you treat them properly, they will aerate your soil, they will increase the level of plant available nutrients, they will enhance biological activity, they will create pathways for root growth and they will improve soil structure. Wow!

Did you know that what earthworms ingest as food gets transformed into a highly available and balanced form of nutrition for your plants? Earthworms truly are a little fertilizer factory and the benefits of high earthworm population in your soil are both surprising and intriguing.

I urge you to take a shovel out to your field this spring and do a little digging. As you count the number of earthworms in each shovel full, you should see 15 or more healthy worms every time you pull up some soil. So, what can you do if your numbers are low, you ask? Take some time to follow a few proven methods to increase your earthworm population. Providing a good environment and adequate food source to these workers is a good start. You can do this by reducing tillage, planting cover crops, utilizing crop residues, and applying our MaxMix and TrueBlend Soil Rejuvenators. In addition, you should make every effort to reduce compaction in the field, reduce chemical inputs and use natural, bio-stimulating crop fertilizers that will enhance your soil life.

Posted in Dave de Vries

08January

Sustainable Agriculture

What is it?

Sustainable Agriculture

A buzz phrase? Maybe, but its also a really important piece of what's missing in today's farming industry.....sustainability. What does it mean to sustain something?...to be sustainable. We should add a word, "independently" to the phrase.

If something is independently sustainable, that means it can exist, on its own, without the use of external inputs or influences to keep it going. It's kind of like being able to live without the use of life support.  But why do so many of the world's farms, field and crops need life support? Its because the system is broken and it can not longer sustain itself on its own.

Just like the human body couldn't sustain itself without the use of a critical organ such as the stomach to digest and supply nutrition, the plant-soil system can not sustain itself without the billions and billions of beneficial bacteria and fungi that act as the plant's digestive system.

I believe in continuous learning. So, I'm scheduled to attend a seminar on Sustainable Agriculture in March, held by a renowed agronomist, Graeme Sait in Australia. Graeme has been studying the effects of conventional agriculture on the environment and our food supply for many years and offers a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture which I hope to earn while I am in Australia. The intricacies of the natural soil-plant system are key to understanding how to really re-build sustainable agriculture and I look forward to continuing my never-ending journey to discover the answers.  If you want to learn more about the course I am attending, go to: http://www.nutri-tech.com.au/

Posted in Dave de Vries

12December

All Disease is Caused by Nutrient Deficiencies

All Disease is Caused by Nutrient Deficiencies

Francis Chaboussou, in his book, Health Crops, states that spraying of chemicals is the cause of disease pressure in crops. Dr. Carey Reams says that all disease pressure in plants is directly related to nutrient deficiency in the plant.

Foliar feeding with plant available nutrients helps to build immunity to ward off disease so you don’t have to. This is because insects and pathogens instinctively know what type of plant material they can digest. Depending on the insect, the digestive system can be rather simple or actually fairly complex. But insects won’t attack healthy plants because they actually can’t digest them.

Learn more about how to test your plants to see how healthy they really are.

“The more poisons we apply, the more diseases and pests we get.” – Joe Lutzenberger, Former Brazilian Minister for the Environment

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