It is important to manage crop residue and return stored nutrients back into the soil for use in the following crop season. With popularity of corn on corn planting styles and achieving thicker stalks we are creating a lingering layer of residue in the environment. This residue acts as a shield protecting the soil against heavy rainfalls and other water erosion activities, thus creating an issue when the residue lingers too long. As residue sits on a field approaching the pre-plant season it keeps the soil cool and wet, ties up nutrients and hampers tillage and planting operations.
Natural degradation of plant material occurs throughout the season as plant matter decays and hosts an ongoing population of degradative microbes that are maintained in the soil. Native microbial populations take time to increase in numbers and establish the critical mass necessary to degrade the remaining crop residue in the field. In mono-cropping systems, where an entire field is devoted to one harvestable crop, the naturally degradative microbes dwindle in number during season and do not have enough mass to properly decay the remaining residue post harvest. An increase in population and efficacy of the degradative microbes is optimally at warmer temperatures meaning the majority of the degradation occurs in the warmer months post-harvest and pre-plant.
The key factors to rapidly break down residue are the number of degraders, ability to increase them and the soil moisture. When there is a high number of microbe already developed in the soil at harvest these numbers will increase quickly with all the available plant material. This would allow degraders to be in a position to attach residue and release trapped carbon to finish the breakdown process. One of the barriers in residue management is soil moisture, Res+ contains a humectant which adheres to the residue while maintaining a higher moisture level allowing microbes to continue to grow and divide in drier periods.