Left side, no Ryzyup. Right side, with Ryzup.
DANVILLE, Ohio — A group of farmers and seed consultants from across Ohio got a close look at the benefits of cover crops and a new plant growth regulator, RyzUp, during a field plot tour Dec. 1 in Holmes and Ashland counties.
Bill Haddad, a local no-till guru and consultant for Valent, and Neil Badenhop, a salesman for Valent, walked the group through fields of wheat, pasture grass and cereal rye.
In all plots, the portion treated with RyzUp was noticeably greener, taller and more dense per square yard and per acre. The product, which is a naturally occurring growth regulator, speeds the plant’s growth process by adding growing days during cool weather — generally periods between 40-60 degrees.
The product can be applied to the seeds of cover crops directly, pre-planting, and/or to the foliage of the plants post emergence.
“It’s some new technology and it has got me so excited, I felt we needed to bring some people together,” said Haddad. He is credited by many for starting no-till farming in Ohio, and introducing it to his own neighborhood, Knox County.
Haddad and Badenhop said the product is proving itself especially well during years like 2011, when record rainfall delayed cover crop planting for many farmers — some cases to the point farmers were forced to give up their intentions to plant a cover crop.
A wheat field planted and treated with RyzUp at the Bob Brightbill farm near Loudonville showed roughly a two-week gain over a nearby field planted the same day, but untreated.
“It’s as if it (the treated field) was planted two weeks earlier,” Badenhop said. “This helps you make up time.”
The results became even more clear as the group continued to other farms, where pasture grass and rye were several inches taller than the check plots.
The product is not a fertilizer; in fact, most of the plots visited were left unfertilized to be sure the results were not the result of adding nitrogen. RyzUp also is certified USDA organic.
New uses, new demands. Haddad said one of the changes in cover crops in recent years is increased emphasis on using them for livestock feed. Rye, for example, is now being harvested for silage, grain and bedding. A speedy growth time is important, so farmers can harvest the cover crop before planting the main crops in the spring.
“It’s like putting the pedal to the metal” for grasses and cover crops, Badenhop said.
The plots on the tour were organized by Jon Spreng and other staff of Loudonville Farmers Equity.
Don Daniels, a consultant for Town and Country Co-op, said he plans to work with Lorain County dairy farmer John Dovin in the spring, to apply some of the product to cereal rye.
“There’s a lot to be learned yet,” Daniels said. “That’s the exciting part of it.”
Dovin operates Dovin Dairy Farms along state Route 58, south of Oberlin. He said he was impressed by what he saw, and said “it looks like it has some value.”
Statewide, an estimated 2,500 acres have been treated with RyzUp.
Results of a drop plate test to estimate dry matter were taken throughout the tour and showed about a 25 percent increase as a result of using the product.
Haddad said cover crops are “the greatest thing for tying nutrients down,” but, they have to get planted first and emerge in order to do the trick. A product that stimulates growth during cool spells is a valuable tool for helping make that happen, he said.