As input cost rise, farmers and ranchers across the country are looking for ways to maximize growth while reducing costs. At the 2021 Kansas Forage and Grassland Council Winter Conference, Ben Elliot, co-founder and chief agronomist for Energy Curve Technology, introduced a new nutrient line available to producers.

By assessing a farm’s environment and the types of crops being grown, the company develops an energy curve that allows for more specific nutrient targeting.

“The energy curve is an analytical system that tells us what it takes for any kind of growing organism to get from one stage to the next,” Elliot said. “The energy requirements and nutrient requirements for that plant to advance stage by stage.”

Energy Curve Technology uses a type of miniature weather station to collect data on farm. That data is then run through an algorithm that can determine specific energy requirements for planting date and crop species.

“Energy Curve Technology is accumulating all kinds of information - growing debris units, temperatures pressures, wind speeds, rainfall,” Elliot said. “It's accumulating all of the solar index data and its running through an algorithm.”

By understanding what a plant needs and when, producers can maximize the efficiency of inputs. Understanding soil science can also help producers make better decisions about which products they’re choosing.

“No jug is ever going to fix your farm,” Elliot said. “Biology and microbiology start in your soil and end in your soil.”

Elliot said while some of the best soils ever tested have around 150,000 species with nearly a trillion organisms in a single teaspoon, many companies target 10 to 30 species.

 “Biology is so incredibly fickle that from jug, if I atrophy 50%, I'm down to 10 or 15 species,” Elliot said. “I just told you that every teaspoon contains 100,000 to 150,000 species and up to a trillion microorganisms. Thirty is not moving the needle. Nature doesn’t work that way.”

Instead, Elliot said producers should use that biological diversity to their advantage.

“Nature's designed that big group of biology,” Elliot said. “Put products into the mix and put practices into the farm that promote that big cross section of diversity so that we start getting the entourage effect of biology. Research on that is where the energy curve and the Benefit product line came from.”

One example of the entourage effect is amoebas within the soil.

“One of the most critical microorganisms that we have to have in all soil solutions is amoebas,” Elliot said. “Amoebas are the factories by which N2 is converted to nitrate so without the amoeba, the rhizobium that infect legumes is useless. So that's what I mean when I say entourage effect, each single species relies on many, many others to complete its task and deliver back to me.”

For forage and cattle producers, Energy Curve Technology has developed an over the top foliar program.

“This is not to replace nutrients totally,” Elliot said. “That's a big misstep with a lot of companies. They say ‘stop using the NPK and just use what's in my bottle.’ That's not the case. What we have to do is really accelerate a plant's ability to uptake. So, we also have to accelerate the microbiological activity in the soil.”

Elliot said that a diversity in products used on the farm can also help producers extend the time they’re able to use those products.

“When you see most products that are biological, there’s only a small fraction of the temperature scale you can get anything out of,” Elliot said. “When you have diversity in those products and your practice, you can cover that whole gambit of that temperature scale and moisture availability.”

Elliot also encourages producers to prioritize aerating their soil.

“When I go out and and talk to hay growers and guys that have a lot of pasture land, the first thing I ask them to do is air get atmosphere back in the mix,” Elliot said. “It's that atmosphere that, in stressful conditions, brings things like moisture, temperature control and prolific growth of microbes that help us with nutrients.”

With rising nutrient costs, Elliot said increasing efficiency can reduce producer’s input costs dramatically.

“The rule of thumb on the energy curve is to knock 50% of your required nutrients out from the sources that you're buying on that, and we'll show you how they get replaced,” Elliot said.

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