Mississippi Valley farmer J.R. Bollinger is showing how biological farming with biochar and microbes works. Photo at right is corn in the first week of June near Cape Giradeaux, Missouri. Only J.R.'s head is visible above his nearly 6-foot corn.
This remarkable growth is dense, dark green, with thick stems and leaves - at least 16 inches taller than his neighbors. Growth is even throughout the 800-acres, without yellow leaves or stunted stalks.
Two weeks later, at summer solstice, J.R.'s hands held high over his head are barely visible above the vigorously growing corn stalks. What you can't see is the big smile on J.R.'s face. He now knows he made the right choice to go biological.
This is only his first year. Each year gets better as the percent of carbon, levels of trace elements and populations of microbes increase.
At planting, J.R. injected a blend of Terra Char biochar fines, SumaGrow microbial inoculant, mycorrhizae fungal spores, SEA-90 sea minerals, Thorvin kelp, ProActive Ag fishmeal, and a few other biostimulants. This mix was tilled into narrow strips to form a seed bed.
Photo at right shows his field after pre-tillage. Corn was precision seeded into the strips so emerging roots immediately contact microbes, minerals and metabolites for maximum symbiosis and optimum growth. Seeds germinated quickly, grew rapidly, look vigorous and healthy.
To inject the ingredients in soil, J.R. custom-built a pre-tillage rig on his tractor toolbar (left). Liquids are carried in two yellow tractor-mounted tanks. Dry materials are towed behind in 2-wheel trailer. 15 sets of plows & tillers open soil for injection, then till amendments into seedling root zone.
At two weeks, J.R. saw his corn growing 50% faster and taller, with thick, dark green leaves.
Interest is growing to reduce carbon in the air. Soil experts and farmers seek cost effective ways to cut cropland soil erosion. Toward that, biochar sequesters carbon in soil, while improving soil structure and enhancing plant growth. Biochar tilled into soil boosts fertilizer efficiency and cuts leaching. Further, making biochar produces renewable biofuels for use instead of fossil fuels.
Already, in only his first year, J.R. is showing how no-till farming with biochar sequesters carbon in soil while promoting greater growth of plants. And his soil and plants will only get better each year as carbon, minerals and microbes accumulate.