Joe Dedman VP of Agronomy, Monty’s Plant Food Company
I was recently reading a book written by Charles Walters, “Weeds, Control Without Poisons.” Walters made some very interesting observations about our soils and the reactions in them that induces the different weeds we see as we drive by fields. For instance, why do we see broadleaf weeds in some fields and grasses in others? Well interestingly enough, it is the soils and how we have managed or not managed them that produce the weeds we see growing in those fields.
In his book “The Anatomy of Life and Energy in Agriculture,” Arden Anderson wrote “each weed species is genetically keyed to replace a specific deficiency.” He divided cropland weeds into broadleaf, grasses, and succulents. Generally speaking, broadleaf weeds are present to correct a phosphate and potash imbalance. Grasses such as Foxtail and Quackgrass are generally present to correct a calcium deficiency. Succulents are usually present to replenish the carbonate ions in the soil as well as to increase its water holding capacity.
Weeds and insects often go together in all crops. When crops undergo stresses during the season, weeds pick up on the stress signal emitted by the plants. Usually nutritional limitations inevitably brought on disease, insect, and weed response, leads to production shortfalls.
Charles Walters, explains in his book “Weeds, Control Without Poisons” that weeds are an index of what is wrong — and sometimes what is right — with the soil, or at least with the fertility program. In every field on every farm, there are different soil types, and each has a potential for producing certain weeds, depending on how a farmer works the soil. Fall tillage, spring tillage, tillage early or late – if it takes place when the soil is dry or wet, all these things determine the kinds of weeds that will grow that season.
Where conditions have rendered soil structure and texture poor, soil compaction from the build up of sedimentary levels from the filtration of silt. This sets the stage for a lot of grassy weeds. When this happens, we understand that we have changed the soil environment by denigrating the soil structure. That’s the signal Foxtail and Fall Panicum send out loud and clear — that there is an imbalanced pH condition in the soil, that tight soil is holding water in excess and refuses to permit it to dry out. How does this induce grassy weeds to grow? The consequence of altering the soil’s structure and texture means the farmer has worked his soil system on the wet side and created clods. When he gets done planting fields with clods in them, they accumulate excess carbon dioxide. Example, Foxtail and Fall Panicum like carbon dioxide. This triggers certain hormone processes that wake up the Foxtail seed and say, it is your turn to live and multiply.
Here are some other examples:
Ragweed: lets the farmer know he has poor quality and a wrong form of potassium during the dry part of the crop season.
Bitterweed and Smart weeds: these arrive under wet soil conditions and grow early in the season. They are related to poorly structured and poorly drained soils. They also shout out that there is something wrong with the decay of organic matter.
Soils that are not in the proper equilibrium will put the decay process into the business of manufacturing ALCOHOLS and FORMALDEHYDE — in short, embalming fluids.
Jimson, Button weeds, Morning glories and Field Bind weeds: grow in soils with an excess of organic material that is not decaying properly. A hormone-enzyme process of a different nature takes over. It wakes up weed seeds and allows them to flourish.
These are only a few weeds we fight each season. There are many factors that have a bearing on weed patterns and crop performance. They are all interrelated.
There are many different networks in the complexity of weeds. For example, cattails and rushes are swamp weeds. There are desert weeds. There are weeds that grow in sand and weeds that grow in silt, and there are weeds that grow in gumbo so very tight. Foxtails grow in gumbo soil, but they also grow in sand when such soils are out of balance and the electrical tension on soil particles is so tight that even sand can build clods and restrict air in the soil, enough to set free the hormone process that wakes up Foxtail seeds.
There are subsoil weeds. There are weeds that grow in acid conditions and, in the West, there are weeds that like alkaline conditions. In Wisconsin and Minnesota there are weeds that thrive in soils that have an excess of iron and flush out a lot of trace minerals and rock minerals that support the hormone processes that give these weed species permission to live.
There are sour soils, neutral soils, alkaline soils and salty soils, and there are weeds that identify with all of these conditions. There are weeds that relate to wet soils and weeds that embrace hot conditions and others that like colder conditions. The degree of sunshine and the length of day and night figure into nature’s equations.
Take rotten weeds, weeds that actually exhibit rotting conditions in the soil. Take stinky weeds and fungal weeds. All reflect the sour, sick, dead excess toxic levels of soil components.
Prolonged use of many herbicides, or even repeated use of the same herbicide year after year, tends to alter the complex biodiversity of the soil which leads to the decline of crop yields.. Once such soils are cleansed of herbicide residues, yields can be increased as much as 50 to 75% without the addition of more fertilizer inputs. Moreover, once these soil conditions are corrected, there is a chance to manage the weeds without the use of toxic genetic chemicals.
Every weed, generally within twenty-four to forty-eight hours after germination, has the ability to emit auxins. These are growth factors that come off the seed via rootlets which penetrate the soil, sometimes as much as a half-inch from the seed itself. That auxin tells every other species in the immediate neighborhood to stay asleep. There are thousands of seeds in every square foot of soil, and yet only so many germinate and grow each year.
Within the first twenty-four hours that little weed seed has done its job. It has given off auxins enough to dormatize every other weed seed next to it. It is nature’s form of population control. It just allows certain weed seeds to come alive and stake out a proper domain, meaning space to ensure enough light, air, drainage, ventilation and carbon dioxide to prosper and produce new seed – the Creator’s purpose for a plant.
Cation balance, pH, phosphate level, moisture, air — all determine how long an auxin system will endure in the seedbed. Soils that are completely dead and have no biological capacity, no balance, no equilibrium, soils abused to death with hard chemistry, or imbalance inputs of salt fertilizers, make it possible for the weed crop to hit the ground running, so to speak. Auxins from weeds can endure in the soil for as long as six to eight weeks. Unfortunately, in todays world of high speed farming and soil management techniques, crop auxins can endure only three to four days. That is why the imbalance of fertilizer salts and lack of micronutrients keeps soils in a state of helping weeds many times more than their crops. Weeds have the most serious effect on the crop production during the first week or ten days of their life.
Weeds can tell you a lot about minerals: whether there is a mineral imbalance, or whether there is a potential in the soil system to release, complex or simplify minerals held in the soils inventory, itself. Under dry conditions biological processes are slowed to a snail’s pace. Potassium depends on bacterial processes to make it available for utilization. Sluggish bacterial activity in these dry soils causes potassium to be unavailable or available in an improperly processed form, and this is what ragweed is telling the farmer. The climatic conditions throughout the season sets in motion the hormonal environment that stimulates the awakening of various species of weeds. This is the reason weeds come and go.
Weather also plays a role because weeds are often the consequence of stress. Fossil fuel-based fertilizers are made water soluble. When the soil dries up, these forms of fertilizers are unavailable and often are totally complexed into the soil base. They change their form and do not remain available for root uptake. This sets the stage for a different plant to function because each weed species often requires a certain form, character, and quality of nutrients.
Even though we are talking about weeds, we also learn that soil health is the remedy for greater crop production, higher quality crops, and fewer insect and disease issues. This includes very few weed problems. And soils that reach this nutrient balance, need less high salt fertilizers, which inhibit the soil biology’s performance. Microbes are the work horses of the soil the more diversity you have the better the performance.
Farmers are consistently looking for answers to growing high yielding crops without weeds. Monty’s has the ultimate answer to many of the soil issues farmers are dealing with each and every season. Throughout the season stresses occur − the soil and its ability to supply the crop’s needs is usually altered by nature, equipment or weather. Monty’s Activated Humic Technology has proven to be the leading humic in the industry. Farmers can apply Monty’s Humic products, like Monty’s Liquid Carbon, just like a prescription the doctor gives you to address your ailment. Our humic-based products can be applied in the same manner to achieve results to help correct the soil’s ailments including: structure, texture, nutrient tie-ups, biological generation and health, along with helping to balance out the soil’s system of nutrients and pH ranges, including CEC and Base Saturation corrections. These things lead to balancing nature in the soil which in turn helps with weed control naturally.
In addition to addressing the soil issues with our humic-based products like Monty’s Liquid Carbon, Monty’s also has Nanoboost which employs nanotechnology to act as a penetrant to take far more chemistry into the weed to overwhelm the it with the chemistry’s mode of action. Nanoboost assists herbicides by using the advanced science of nanotechnology to bind with herbicides and deliver them into the plant for a rapid, effective kill of troublesome weeds.
So, for farmers looking to bring their soils into a balanced state that helps to control weeds as well as nutrient release, Monty’s has a full line of soil conditioning products, weed penetrants, and nutrients to help. For more information contact your representative or click here.
Sources for information: “Weeds, Control Without Poisons” by Charles Walters and “The Anatomy of Life and Energy in Agriculture” by Arden