BRANDON – Some farmers have responded to rising fertilizer costs and
looming stricter environmental regulations by considering
nonconventional plant growth products.
Penergetic Canada imports nonconventional tonics from Switzerland,
two of which are suitable for the type of broad acreage crops grown on
the Prairies, said Penergetic representative Derek Pratt.
Pratt said trials conducted by the Wheatland Conservation Area in
Swift Current, Sask., found that Penergetic tonics can boost cereal
yields by as much as eight percent.
Research farm manager Bryan Nybo confirmed that the Penergetic
products increased yields, but said the study involved only four
replicated plots and one year of data. He is reluctant to say whether
the boost would occur in other situations.
The two products promoted by Pratt are called Penergetic K and
Penergetic P, with K representing compost and P representing plant.
“K boosts soil fertility by serving as a catalyst to activate soil
microorganisms, which in turn break down organic plant material on the
surface and down in the soil,” Pratt said.
“It accelerates the aerobic process. This frees up nitrogen and
unlocks potassium and phosphorus in the soil. It mineralizes organic
phosphorus. Only 30 percent of phosphorus fertilizer is taken up by the
crop in the year of application. K converts the unused phosphorus to a
plant-available form to stimulate root development.”
He said Penergetic K is applied at a low rate of 100 grams per acre.
“It’s a wettable powder that you put down through your chem handler,”
“A lot of farmers put it down in the fall after harvest or when they
do their pre-seed burnoff.”
He said Penergetic P gives plant roots better access to nutrients
already in the soil.
“It gives plants an elevated sugar reading. That means you have a
stronger plant. P is a foliar product. You can put it on as a tank mix
when you’re spraying herbicides or fungicides.”
Penergetic P is also applied at 100 grams per acre.
Pratt said both products are compatible with all crops grown on the
He said they are not intended to replace conventional commercial
fertilizer products, only to enhance their efficacy.
“In our trials, we’ve seen the best results when K and P are used
with reduced fertilizer rates. We strongly recommend that farmers do
side by side check strips so they see for themselves how it works on
their own farms.”
The K product costs $4 per acre and the P $5 per acre at the
recommended rate for prairie crops.
Dairy farmer John Klop lopped $40,000 off his fertilizer bill last year by applying Penergetic P and K to his 330 acres of grass and corn.
He also documented yield increases of five to seven percent and higher starch levels in his feed samples.
“We milk 210 head, so the more starch we grow ourselves, the less we have to buy,” said Klop, who farms near Chilliwack, B.C.
He conducted trials last year on overseeding with Penergetic P powder mixed with grass seed. He uses a power harrow with the seeder attached.
“Six weeks later when we went in to cut the grass, the strips with P were six inches taller and three shades darker green,” he said.
“On the corn, we put the powder P down with the seed. Then at the three or four leaf stage when we spray Roundup, we mix more powder P with the spray. So it gets two shots.”
Klop said the powder was clumpy and did not blend well when he tried mixing it with liquids the first year. The new powder is ultra fine and mixes well, he added.
He applies both products at the recommended rate of 100 grams per acre and mixes the K with the fertilizer.
Klop also adds a product called Penergetic G into the dairy manure.
“We used to have trouble with crusting on the surface of the manure pits. With the G, it seems to ferment better and there’s no crusting. Before, when we applied manure, it used to stink for a couple of days. With the G, it stinks like crazy, really bad, for about an hour, and then the smell completely disappears.”
Jim Cowan, who farms at New Norway, Alta., tried P and K on a barley field last year.
“I think it worked quite well. I had one piece of barley that ran over 90 bushels,” he said.
“I didn’t do test strips, so I can’t say for sure if the Penergetic gave me the yield boost, or maybe I would have gotten it anyway. Basically, I was just experimenting with it, figuring out how to apply it.”
Allan Katona, an organic farmer from Kipling Sask., said he harvested his best flax crop ever last year using Penergetic treatments only on the seed.
“That was the first time I tried it,” said Katona. “But to tell you the truth, I don’t know if the Penergetic worked or not.
“I told (Penergetic Canada representative) Derek (Pratt) it was the best organic flax crop we’ve ever grown here, but everybody had a great crop that year. So I really don’t know if it worked or not.”
His organic flax, which would normally run 15 to 18 bu. per acre, yielded 22 bu. last year. He applied the products to the seeds with no further application.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t do check strips last year. I’m going to use it again this year, and I’m going to do some check strips so I know for sure what’s happening.”
Agronomist Rigas Karamanos of Viterra said he tells producers to be cautious when considering applications of any product outside the realm of typical fertilizer application.
“You want to ensure you have done all of your other agronomy right first,” he said at a recent agronomy conference.
“Do some test strips, compare the results and try it a couple of years in a row before investing in large acres.”