Seaweed As A Crop Input?
15 Sep 2228 min 40 sec

You probably didn’t realize this, but seaweed has been utilized as a crop input for 40 or 50 years in some specialty crop production systems. Now, seaweed’s benefits are being discovered and put to work in commodity cropping systems. With several of the XtremeAg guys trialing seaweed-derived crop inputs, it was time to sit down and discuss kelp technology in farming. In short, seaweed helps crops because it thrives in cold, dark, salty environments and it’s good at it — kelp has been in the oceans for millennia! Brian Cornelius, Director of Applied Sciences with Agricen explains the stress mitigation benefits of seaweed.  

00:00 Are we going to eventually be utilizing stuff like seaweed products from nature as crop inputs? In other words? Is this the Brave New 00:09 World is this the future of our industry and there's a lot of compelling evidence that indeed it is welcome to extreme AGS cutting the 00:19 curved podcast where you get a guaranteed return on investment of your time as we cut your learning curve with the information. You can apply to your farming operation 00:28 immediately extreme AG, we've already made the mistakes so you don't have to managing your Farms Water Resources is 00:37 a critical component to a successful and sustainable farming operation Advanced Drainage Systems helps Farmers, just like you increase their 00:46 yields up to 30% with their technologically advanced Water Management products visit ads to see 00:55 how they can keep your business flowing. Now, here's your host Damien Mason. Well, hey, thanks for being here for another fantastic episode of extreme 01:04 acts cutting the curve today. We're talking about seaweed as a crop input. Yeah. You heard me say that right seaweed the 01:10 stuff that comes out of the ocean as a crop input. I've got Brian Cornelius. He is the director of applied sciences for agerson agerson 01:19 is got some really cool products that we are doing some trials with at extreme AG Brian. Thanks for being here, man. 01:27 Thanks, Damian. Good to be with you. Okay, you've got seaweed and three of your products tell me about the before we hit record. You 01:36 gave it to me real simple when I said what are we doing grab and seaweed and using it to make food crops? 01:44 Seems kind of a outrageous but you put it in very simple terms of why there's a why there's something there why seaweed has 01:53 traits and characteristics that if you can harness them make sense for production Act. Yeah, Damian. So when I talk about seaweed or 02:02 our products that have seen within them I try to get the audience to think about just the environment that sea grows in it's a cold 02:11 ocean at the depths. It's dark the water salty and that plant has an ability to survive that environment. So what 02:20 we're trying to do is capture all the abilities of that plan to live in its environment and transfer that to other crops so they can withstand some 02:30 of the same conditions salty conditions cold conditions those abiotic stresses that the sea Technologies do a really good job of 02:39 helping plants and stand so extreme egg. We talk a lot about stress medication. It's one of Kelly Harris big objectives this year. We just did a webinar on the subject is when 02:48 you talk about those things see Wheaties out there and you know the ocean like you said, it could be 50 degrees 60 degrees and it's growing it's salty and more 02:57 importantly it can be dark and So it's getting sloshed around somehow this product this this this plant I'm sorry can make it. 03:04 So is it really was the idea to look at this plant and say if this plant can make it it must have such ability to 03:13 tolerate stress as was that the first idea of what to extract from it was the stress. The ability to handle the stress. Was that the idea. 03:24 That was our primary objective because that market already exists. So think back 50 years and and I learned this this summer. 03:33 I was out in California visiting a nurseryman who handles Sumo gross the giant mandarins and we were talking about seaweed and 03:43 what I learned from him is that he's been using seaweed for 40 years for different benefits plant growth and 03:52 stress mitigation, but he started with a powdered seat and what has evolved and especially in the process. We that we use we 04:01 have taken a material that's been around for a long time. We've understood some of the benefits of it. But what we really honing in on is that 04:10 ability of that technology coming from the Sea lead those Plant-based final hormones and other things that come out 04:18 of it how they help plants would stand stress again, whether it's cold heat drought any of those stresses those that 04:27 technology does an amazing job of helping plants withstand those. All right. So Brian, let's talk a little about the technology. You don't go out and harvest you 04:36 eat out of the ocean then stick it in a jug and then ship it to a farmer and say here go and dump this jug of seaweed out there. 04:42 Tell me a little bit about how it works and then the technology and then what the farmers using. Okay, so most 04:48 companies that have a seaweed offering they will do some type of extraction the most common extraction out there for seaweed 04:57 is a chemical extraction using potassium hydroxide. Basically, it's you know extraction that 05:06 Gives our offer reaction you get about product. What we do here to agerson is very different our history going back more than 05:15 50 years is a biological extraction. So we use a fermentation type process. So we took Knowledge from previous products in 05:24 that process and we just changed the substrate so we will get in a powdered kilt like almost every other company that's doing a seat properly. 05:33 There's some place that's harvesting kelp and then they bring it to a powder form and then you get it on your doc as a powder form exactly that 05:42 That's the basis of it. And then from there that's where all the differences happen from. The agricult standpoint is we take it through our biologically extraction 05:51 and you know probably don't have enough time to get into all those details but it is very different and in it's a complete digestion 06:00 of that Source material. So everything that is in that seat. I just beneficial or potentially beneficial comes 06:09 out in our extraction versus others that don't do a full digestion. Okay. So you're then cooking this powdered seaweed 06:18 into and to extract The Beneficial stuff that you want to use and then the technology is such 06:27 that you think that we put it out there for a crop we spraying it on a crop or we putting it in Furrow. How are we using it? And then what's the idea that this this 06:36 stuff is it's how does it how does it help my crops? Yeah, that's good. And it's versatile. That's one of the things that we know about Kilt technology 06:48 in general. They're very versatile from our standpoint. And the reason we have three different products that have seaweed or 06:57 seaweed derivatives in them is we can cater to the different applications for the Growers you mentioned infer we have a product called accomplished Max. 07:06 So accomplish Max is our traditional accomplished nutrient utilization technology where we've modified that formulation to 07:15 incorporate the seaweed into it at planning. So it's an infero application and why would we do that? Well, 07:23 Some Farmers plant early so it's cold. Okay some Farmers plant in the soils that are not the best suited so it could be some salt concerns some Farmers 07:32 plant and as I can remember girls talking about hey, let's just put the seats out there in the dust and hope for rain. 07:40 So you've got some stressful conditions there at planning whether it's cold. He drought salt you you have to deal with that. So our in for our 07:49 offering allows us to utilize that technology there. Okay. So the technology essentially is we bring in 07:55 dried. We take me to somebody some company that you that's a you know, whatever that's their businesses harvesting see we kelp they cook it dehydrated whatever 08:04 make it into a powder. The powder comes to your doc you then do another process to get the benefits from it and you you derive from that this certain 08:13 thing which a proprietary I know and then you say we're gonna make accomplished Max accomplish Max is the product that you sell that goes in Furrow 08:22 and that goes in Furrow for corn goes and for other crops goes and for everything any crop that you use in an in for all fertilizer application 08:31 that accomplish Max and go in so in accomplish Max, we take our traditional accomplished product and then we incorporate our 08:40 Lead into that product. So we've got a combo product there that we've added the fertility product with stress mitigation. 08:48 Correct now no nutrients it's only fertility enhancement. So it is designed to enhance the fertility that 08:57 we apply inferral as well as free up nutrients that are in the soil. How does it work? How does this stuff 09:05 that you spray on there? And then all sudden I get it that seaweed has this amazing ability to tolerate stress? It's hanging out there in the 09:14 ocean. It's getting pushed around. How do you make I mean without getting too scientific? How does it transfer from that? Kelp that's growing in 09:23 the Pacific Ocean to my field. Okay. So let's talk about the infer application. What are most Inferral nutrients liquid or dryer whatever 09:36 what's the base of those? It's a salt whether it's a it's some type of chemical salt. It's what most fertilizers are built on. Okay. So when 09:45 you apply a chemically a chemical salt fertilizer inferral to that developing plant, there is the need to help protect 09:54 that plant or developing seedling from some of those salts that are in that fertilizer. We never really talk about that because we treat 10:03 the entire field we're putting the fertilizer out there for the benefit of the nutrients but the background of that material some of 10:12 those salts can actually affect the growth and development of that plant early before the nutrients really kick in 10:18 and cause you know that really desired growth. So that's one thing that we look at infer is the effect of the fertilizer salts. Perfect 10:27 example. 1034 polyphosphate is widely used tens of millions of gallons per year. Well what happens when you have say 10:38 five gallons of that infer if you plant and it's pretty dry. There's no moisture. 10:46 You've ever seen what can happen there. You can actually have some damage. So you're saying an example like that. The fertilizer doesn't get diluted enough 10:55 because we're going into dry conditions in that soil and it's on the harming the seed. Is that what I'm here good, it absolutely could cause 11:04 some damage now it it may not be catastrophic but it could be yield limiting. Even if it only you know delays germination 11:13 of some of the sea. Okay. So Brian I like the way you're going with this so then by using something like your product that 11:19 is a stress medication because of the seaweed technology. It does what it can actually help mitigate the damages from those salts because again that seed 11:28 grows on a salty ocean. It has the ability to withstand those salts. So what we see even in some of our tests and the growth chamber or Greenhouse 11:37 will we look at Salt specifically, especially at germination time? We see a mitigation of damage from those salts us. 11:46 Products you and I are covering this Brian because I wanted to make sure that you know, the extreme AG following is talking about cool technology where 11:55 we're getting something that's from nature and it's not, you know, we didn't go to the lab and synthetically just concoct some stuff because in our history, we've conqued some 12:04 pretty naturally enough, you know, yeah and drags and you know you go through all kinds of nasty crap that we come a lot. It doesn't seems pretty benign pretty 12:13 harmless. But yet it also has beneficial. You said that somebody was doing this 40 years ago. I honestly God have never heard about seaweed 12:22 as a crop input until I started working with extreme Ag and you guys so how long has it been around and it was I just missing it or is it still is it still 12:31 New Wave? Well, so think well where a lot of new technologies get introduced a lot of new technologies cool things like seaweeds and 12:40 stuff like that. traditionally get introduced in the higher value vegetable markets and 12:47 Specialty crops because they're they're peeling $40,000 of Revenue off of an acre whereas our soybean fields are, you know 800 or something like 12:58 that? So it's like okay, they're gonna be usually Chad Henderson talks a lot about that. He's just I go looking for a new idea. 13:06 I look at specialty crops because those people are usually The Cutting Edge of new crazy stuff. But also they can. 13:15 They can look at I've got to be The Cutting Edge because I've got such a massive amount of money coming off of this anchor that's true in in again 13:24 that their budgets are different. They've have such a huge potential for profit at the end that they're more willing to try things early 13:33 on. So a lot of these Technologies start in those specialty markets and what we think we're fairly good 13:42 at in agerson is taking those Technologies using our proprietary extraction method that allows us to bring the cost 13:51 down so we can actually get those Technologies into a row crop Market where the budgets of vastly different and I think that's what we've done with 14:00 with the CV technology, but they were using it in the in especially crafts a long time ago. When did agerson come along and say hey let's go 14:09 ahead and do this. Let's let's bring it to the masses is what you're really talking about. You democratize seaweed. Well, so 14:15 And we talked about this before the broadcast just general company structure how we are part of a larger organization nutrient 14:21 Solutions. Well nutrient Solutions has a very, you know, big presence in the specialty markets out west and other parts of the country. So what 14:30 we try to do is learn from our partners in the field and if they come and say hey, 14:37 we've got a market that we could really use our own technology in we listen and that's kind of how this whole thing went down is our West 14:46 Coast especially guys in excuse me. Can you guys come up with the CV technology for us? So we go to work and you know, once we 14:55 have that conversation in less than a year, we had a product in the field testing and that was back in 2016 or 17. 15:04 Seaweeds only application then is as stress mitigation, right? Is there anything else that we get from it in terms of a crop input? No, 15:13 there's some general plant growth promotion with seaweed. So there are some vital hormone 15:19 like compounds that will enhance growth. It's probably best known for the stress mitigation, but there are some other plant growth benefits to it. 15:28 You use this in three of your products accomplish Max Maritime and terramar accomplishments. You just explained to us 15:34 is an inferrow product that is a stress mitigation. But also it's got nutrient uptake benefit. Also what happens with Maritime. So 15:43 Maritime is our straight seaweed. So 100% seaweed extract. So again, when you look at that seat Market 15:52 where it is, very severe stress and that is the one main parameter that you're after that's Maritime 16:01 and it is that all seaweed. There's no additions to it. It's not formulated with anything else just pure old seaweed. And 16:10 then how do I use it? So again, it has flexibility in the specialty Market it goes through drip tape. It can be a fully application and 16:19 our again if it's used in real crops We can spray it it's already in Furrow because that's what we 16:28 Accomplish Max to get the max part of it. So it's flexible. It can really do I sprayed or do I sprayed on the top as a foyer and am I going out there and putting 16:38 this on, you know, when when the crops are certain do I use Maritime that way? Yeah, yeah. So let's say you're gonna go out you've got 16:49 pretty severe stress being forecast. I'll give you a good example we Have a lot of guys in our specialty markets 16:57 that pay attention early season to frost or cold events. And we had a Michigan Apple grower 17:06 who was looking at the forecast and saw that there's a high likelihood that we're gonna get a frost and it's 17:15 all gonna whack his blooms. Isn't that exactly? Okay? And so the blue once the once the blooms are whacked, you ain't got no apples you're done. So what 17:24 he did is he took the maritime product and went out with the foliar application the day before that predicted Frost and he ended 17:33 up doing that five different times because it was a, you know, pretty unusual year. Well at the end of it what he noticed is 17:43 that he kept 90% of his crop. Other growers in the area who plan for two sprays only had 30 to 40 percent of their crop left. 17:54 The ones that didn't spray any seaweed didn't have a crop so that that's one example of how it 18:00 can be used whether it's a predicted event or just history if you know that that's something's likely to happen. It's fantastic. So then I'll 18:09 get one more product than I want to talk about. The future teramar is another one of your products. There's a seaweed derived 18:15 Product Where do I use tear more? And what is it? So Tara more again is a combination. So we take the straight seaweed product 18:24 in Maritime and we blend that with a pretty unique product that we have that is a biologically derived humic material. So 18:33 we take the same linear diet that a company selling humic acid would use But instead of a chemical extraction we 18:41 will use a biological extraction to break down the linear diet. So now with terramar we take the seaweed 18:47 material and the leonardite material and blend those two together with some really cool benefits because again, we've talked all you know broadcast about 18:56 the stress mitigation benefits of the seaweed when we bring in the biologically extracted leonardite. We bring in some pretty awesome 19:05 plant growth promotion capabilities. So teramar has really found itself to be very successful in some 19:15 of our mid to late season applications in row crops. It's it's growing tremendously Kelly has tear more in his fields Lee louvers 19:24 is used terramar. So a lot of girls around the country are using it and it's doing a really good job with those mid and late season fungicide applications 19:33 where we're trying to set that plan up for optimal growth as well as 19:41 Trigger that plant to be ready for stress. So that's what we're using teramore our primarily for which kind of surprises us because that product 19:50 was developed for the specialty Market originally, but it's growing in the row crop Market tremendously. And again, it's it's never you it's you don't go out and spray 19:59 just terramar you put it when you're using a fungicide when you're doing something else and that's it's it's a compliment and 20:05 it it's it's like one plus one equals five. That way. You can be take mixed with an application that's already going out if all you want to 20:14 do is go out there and set that plan up for stress and additional optimal plant growth. You can spray it alone. It will do its job spray it 20:24 alone. But why go out and make a separate trip when there's other things that you can put it in the tank with Brian talk about 20:30 the future, you know, GMO technology frankly took some and boy the anti modern agriculture people what bananas members about 20:39 it. GMO thing is waned. It's kind of funny me. Yeah, what eight years ago when all over social media. Do you realize they're breeding salmon genetics 20:49 into our tomatoes and like what he's up. Yeah. It was we essentially went and found this thing that exists somewhere in nature 20:58 and said that's a good trait and genetically stuck it in this other thing and it made you know, a whole lot of controversy. Nothing that you do is 21:08 GMO. We're not even saying that I only want to make the comparison between the idea that there's something desirable over here in nature and 21:17 we're gonna utilize that trait or that ability that this plant or thing has and used over here as a crop input. Are 21:26 we gonna be doing more of this? Yeah. So so lucky said seaweed is is natural. We have a natural process to extract it, 21:36 which is why our straight scene material is organically certified. It's Armory listed so that tells 21:45 you there that it it's safe. Yeah, what we're doing is we want to know more we want to figure out exactly why are 21:54 we seeing the benefits that we see in the field? So now we want to dig deeper into Is there something going on specifically with the 22:03 physiology that we can explain what we see? It's kind of like the genotype versus phenotype, you know the genotype you can see that in the lab with all 22:12 the letters and all that stuff. But the phenotype is what you see in the field. That's what you can walk out and see. Oh, here's the line where we 22:21 sprayed this product on one side where it's not spray looks very different than the thought that it's straight. That's our phenotype what we see by the way, we're thanks for 22:30 doing that because I I'm not the direct replied Sciences for a major company. So when you explain what a genotype versus 22:36 phenotype is, I appreciate that. Oh, no problem. Okay, the genotype part is easy because there's techniques to tell us. Oh, maybe these 22:45 things are happening in the plant. But why do we see what we see in the field? And that's what the future holds for us is to better understand. What's Behind 22:55 These Technologies so we can get better at maybe Catering specific products for specific stresses or if we know that 23:06 there's certain things happening in the field. How can we make these Technologies better to meet more specific needs 23:12 to our Growers? I think that you've hit something there that in my involvement with all the you know, discussions like this. 23:21 When it comes to Biologicals and we can talk about the old days, you know, we thought there's Nico. 23:26 We're doing trials that prove there's Real Results real tangible results. But we also I guess 23:32 we've got to be humble enough to admit. We're not exactly sure. We know why the seaweed thing works are we? Yeah in again that 23:42 is I guess that next level of education is We see it works our trials say it works. But why and I think especially at agerson 23:54 with our R&D team and and some of the partners that we have. I think we're well suited to figure out the why and in a pretty short period of 24:03 time because that's what everybody wants to know and if we figure out the why that gives us the ammunition to be better 24:12 at making sure that we can carry those products to fit specific needs. I remember years ago being a reading an 24:21 article. That was somewhat scientific that said when the humans are all gone. The Cockroaches are still going to be here because they 24:27 had an amazing ability to live is cockroach technology coming just like seaweed. We're exactly we're not sure why but those damn things 24:36 can make it is that kind of the same thing. We looked at seaweed and said, we're not sure why but there's got to be something we can use. Yeah. Well, 24:42 we've only been using seaweed. For my knowledge 50 or so years, but the oceans have been around for a long time. So that plant has 24:50 you know survived Millennia and I think you're right is until we understand why that plant does what 24:59 it does or survives in its environment and do a better job of being able to transfer that to other plants that need those functionalities. We're 25:08 still learning and it's it's gonna take us a while last question on that. Is there anything to see weed? Because we're not exactly sure why we're going 25:17 to get better at that. Probably we're going to get better at that people like you are working on it. 25:21 Does it have more application? Is there another place for this to go? I mean am I looking around saying why didn't 25:27 we you see weed technology as a crop input here. Is there somewhere else that this goes well and my prior knowledge of seaweed before 25:36 I started, you know into this field and started, you know doing this was, you know going to a sushi restaurant, you know 25:42 get a role in it's wrapped in it. Who knows? What's next? I think there's a lot of things out there that we use on a daily 25:52 basis that there could be so many of their applications for them. We just haven't figured it out or we haven't had that happy accident yet, which is 26:01 how a lot of Technologies get created is something happens by accident like, oh we could 26:07 use that for that or that works on that. So I don't know what the future holds but I will I will say that I think they're are a lot of things that can potentially 26:17 be utilized with these Technologies. We just haven't figured him out yet. I like it right there. We haven't had the happy accident. And 26:27 I also I get excited when I think about Innovation and what comes to this industry when I think about You know, I've been around at my whole life. We 26:36 didn't talk about putting seaweed on crops. It was someone was doing that. He said this guy's nuts what's going on and now 26:42 it we were seeing it and obviously we're doing experiments and we're showing the trial work here the Happy accident 26:48 so some night you've got to go out in a storm with a kite and a key tight on it and some seaweed and find that next happy accident, right? Yeah, but 26:57 I just hope that accident is not tragic for me. Well been Franklin's on the hundred dollar bill. So obviously can make you famous. I guess 27:06 I guess you're right. Yeah Cornelius. He's my been Franklin in terms of experimentation waiting on that 27:16 happy accident. I like that's a great term. He's a director replied Sciences of agerson. They've got products that you 27:22 see weed technology. We're doing trials with them. We're getting some really good results. As you said Kelly is doing some of this Chad's 27:28 got some results UMass results and please do some results, right? Yeah. I think Lee was talking about it on the webinar. Fantastic. If 27:37 you want to learn more about this, you want to learn more about seaweed technology that can help your crops. Go to. 27:44 nutrient act Solutions and their social you should find our products anywhere you can access that 27:53 information. Yeah, the company's called agerson AGR i c e n just like his own Brian sure, but you might be listening to this. That's why I spelled it for it till next time. He's Brian 28:02 Cornelius. He'll be here again because we're gonna talk about cool stuff that they're doing. I'm Damian Mason. Thanks for being here on Extreme 28:08 Ice cutting the Curve. That's a wrap for this episode of cutting the curve, but there's plenty more check out where 28:16 you can find past episodes instructional videos and articles to help you squeeze more profit out of your farm cutting. The curve is 28:25 brought to you by Advanced Drainage Systems the leader in agriculture Water Management Solutions.