Now is the time to put a residue management plan in place

As we enter the dog days of summer and farmers begin gearing up to head into the field for fall harvest, now is the time to start thinking about a residue management plan. Having the right strategy can mean giving your soil the right balance of bacteria and nutrients that will lead to a future increased yield and a higher return on investment.

Oftentimes on the farm, something is done just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” That includes dealing with corn stover or soybean, wheat and rice straw. But some of those dated practices might be holding farmers back. For example, burning corn stover destroys any chance of recouping any of the nutrients contained in the remaining stover. It also causes nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium present in the top four to six inches of the soil to be volatized off or converted into a unusable form for the plant. Also, burning can prepare millions of weed seeds found in the top four to six inches of soil for germination, which will lead to increased weed-control costs the following season. Discing the stover into the soil might not ensure proper breakdown of the stalk, leading to a less-than-ideal return of nutrients to the soil profile.

If all that isn’t enough, improper breakdown of stover (anaerobic microbial action) can create planting problems, as well as trash problems in adjacent ditches, leading to drainage problems and flooding during moderate rain events. Instead, using biological products such as Concept AgriTek’s Residue Rx is a beneficial solution. Residue Rx is a consortium of bacteria and fungi that turn crop residue into organic matter.

Residue Rx to the rescue

Residue Rx kickstarts the weathering processes and makes nitrogen and phosphorous more available to the plant the following growing season. As an added benefit, it diminishes the chance of diseases that live within the soil and the stover.

“Once you have all that stover there, we have to figure out how to get our seed in the ground, so we have to have a plan,” said Daniel Hensley, the vice president of agronomy for Concept AgriTek. “That stover holds a tremendous amount of nutrients and we want to be able to utilize those nutrients. That’s where Residue Rx comes in. It’s a very specific blend of bacteria and fungi geared toward breaking down crop residue.”

A further look at the science behind Residue Rx

The beneficial microbes in Residue Rx breaks down the corn stover in a manner that allows the next crop to use it. This is especially important in fields where corn is grown year after year.

“If you don’t break it down the proper way or the wrong bacteria break the stover down, we lose it as methane gas,” Hensley added. “If that happens, you lose the nutrient value of the stover and we don’t want to do that because there are a tremendous amount of nutrients in that stover.”

Make sure the timing is right

Because Residue Rx is temperature sensitive, the timing of the application is important. The bacteria go dormant between about 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the South, farmers typically apply Residue Rx behind the combine. In the Midwest, farmers typically apply it just prior to working the soil or planting. No-till farmers typically use it just prior to planting.

“Just broadcast it on the stover and then let that residue management bacteria work for you all year. That’s where we’re seeing the best results,” Hensley said.

An ounce of prevention, a pound of cure

Farmers who have used Residue Rx on corn stover, or on other crop hay, have seen their investment returned to them time and time again.

“One of the big things we’ve seen is farmers being able to reduce fertilizer inputs,” Hensley said. “We’ve also seen farmers have a huge reduction in disease in their crop where residue has been managed, because if you have a disease that winters in crop residue, then it makes perfect sense to try to reduce your crop residue so that your disease goes away.”

To learn more about Residue Rx, visit www.conceptagritek.com/full-season.


Values for nutrients contained in corn stover from a 200 bu/ac crop are as follows:

N= 78.4 lbs.

P2O5= 23.52 lbs.

K2O= 98 lbs.

Ca= 9.9 lbs

Values are on a per-acre basis. Nutrient values taken from the University of Arkansas Extension article “What is stubble worth?” Sept. 11, 2012.


Values for nutrients contained in rice straw from a 200 bu/ac crop are as follows:

N= 63 lbs.

P2O5= 18.9 lbs.

K2O=75.6 lbs.

Mg=12.01 lbs.

Ca= 9.9 lbs.

Values are on a per-acre basis. Nutrient values taken from the University of Arkansas Extension article “What is stubble worth?” Sept. 11, 2012.


Values for nutrients contained in soybean straw from a 60 bu/ac crop are as follows:

N= 66 lbs.

P2O5= 14.4 lbs.

K2O= 60 lbs.

Ca= 48 lbs.

S= 10.2 lbs.

Mg.= 21.6 lbs.

Nutrient values taken form the International Plant Institute and return values were calculated using Ohio Ag Net’s Ohio Country Journal Article published July 14, 2011.


Content goValues for nutrients contained in wheat straw from a 70 bu/ac crop are as follows:

N= 49 lbs.

P2O5= 11.2 lbs.

K2O= 84 lbs.

Ca= 5.5 lbs.

S= 9.8 lbs.

Mg.= 9.1 lbs.

Nutrient values taken form the International Plant Institute and return values were calculated using Ohio Ag Net’s Ohio Country Journal Article published July 14, 2011.