Envita: Maximizing yields through nitrogen fixation
Producing top yields with fewer inputs might be leading your operation’s decisions, especially as we see fertilizer prices rise. Is there a better way? Are there options that allow you to maximize your inputs while protecting your yield? How can we make sure nitrogen is available when the plant needs it?
As one of the essential macronutrients, nitrogen is a primary focus. In 2021, of the 20,290 corn acres enrolled in ProVantage, nearly 100 percent of those acres had nitrogen applied at an average rate of approximately 212 pounds per acre. Whether you follow the one pound of nitrogen for every bushel of corn produced or your nitrogen calculations are more complex, we know nitrogen usage isn’t going away.
But what if we went back to the drawing board? Is there a way to convert the nitrogen that makes up 78 percent of the air into a form that plants can use? Sure, there’s biological nitrogen fixation like we see in soybeans where a prokaryote (rhizobia) reduces atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia. But corn doesn’t have nodules to fix nitrogen. Game over.
Or is it? Science isn’t done yet. Some prokaryotes are capable of biological nitrogen fixation without nodules and can live within plants, like Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus originally found in sugarcane. While discovered in 1988 (Dwivedi, 2020), this bacterium became the subject of research studies to explore if it was capable of nitrogen fixation in other crops, specifically monocots like corn.
Researchers were successful at inoculating non-native host plants and found the G. diazotrophicus was able to colonize within plant cells, not just root cells. Azotic North America has taken more than 20 years of G. diazotrophicus research to create the methodology behind Envita™, a nitrogen fixation product for corn and other crops. Envita™, like other nitrogen-fixing biologicals hitting the market today, has the potential to decrease the amount of synthetic fertilizer, increase yields, decrease nitrogen loss potential and provide plants with nitrogen all season long. While Azotic North America has been running field trials since 2015, we are taking a look at Envita™ in our own field trials.
Unlike other biologics, Envita™ is endophytic and lives symbiotically in the plant cells throughout the plant, not just near the root. This allows for consistent nitrogen availability throughout the growing season and puts nitrogen where it is needed, when it’s needed.
While biologicals have proven beneficial, they are not going to replace good crop management. Understanding what they are, how they work and what to do with them are key pieces to seeing the greatest outcomes according to crop physiology researchers at the University of Illinois (Farm Journal, 2021).
Depending on corn prices and your local yield potential, Envita™ can pay for itself with as low as 1% increase in yield.
Similar results seen in soybeans as Envita™ works throughout the plant and not just in the root system where the natural nitrogen-fixing ability of soybeans exists.
Dwivedi, M. (2020). Chapter 25 – Gluconobacter. In Beneficial microbes in agro-ecology bacteria and fungi (pp. 521–544). Essay, Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-823414-3.00025-3
Eskin, N., Vessey, K., & Tian, L. (2014). Research progress and perspectives of nitrogen fixing bacterium, Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus, in Monocot Plants. International Journal of Agronomy, 2014, 13 pages. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/208383
Farm Journal. (2021, March 8). Biologicals and the seven wonders of the corn yield world. Ag Web. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.agweb.com/news/crops/corn/biologicals-and-seven-wonders-corn-yield-world