A solid fertilizer strategy starts with an understanding of which nutrients are taken from the soil every time a crop is grown, and incorporating best management practices to replenish those nutrients. Learn more about nutrient removal with the following resources.
Increasing (and maintaining) yields requires a full-system approach built from the ground up. That starts with a strong understanding of what your soil is capable of today, so you can improve it for tomorrow. See below to learn more.
Sustainable high-yield cropping systems require a well-researched application strategy that incorporates best practices for efficiency and profitability. Learn more about fertilizer application best practices below.
In farming, big improvements often come in small packages. Supporting macro- and secondary nutrients with a sound approach to micronutrients is essential to plant growth and can play a profitable role in increasing yields. Learn more, here.
Adequate crop nutrition starts with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Learn more about the impact of the Big Three on crop yields, here.
Sound fertility plans equal long-term viability for a farm’s most important element: its land. Browse below to learn more about making fertility decisions that are good for both the soil and the bottom line.
Having an adequate supply of nitrogen (N) is vitally important to a crop for two reasons: First, crop plants need N to form chlorophyll in leaves, and if there is a shortage of chlorophyll, the crop will not be able to effectively harness energy from sunlight to photosynthesize and form sugars that are needed as energy sources to power plant growth, as well as form carbohydrate starches in grain or other storage organs (e.g., tubers in potato); secondly
Placing fertilizer in-furrow with the seed is a common practice in small-grain production, and to some extent in row crop production. Often called pop-up, fertilizer placed with the seed can, under some conditions, enhance early-season nutrient uptake and increase yield.
Chloride (Cl-) was first generally recognized as a plant nutrient in the mid 1950s; however, its value as a fertilizer supplement was not appreciated until the 1970s when work in the northwestern United States and elsewhere showed that crops do indeed respond to Cl- fertilizer application. Since that time, there has been a great deal of work investigating crop response to the addition of Cl-, and determining optimal management practices for Cl- fertilization.
As crop input suppliers and farmers walked corn and soybeans fields this season they may have noticed some telltale signs of nutrient deficiency. Mosaic senior agronomist Curt Woolfolk says such scouting activities can sometimes allow time for rescue applications, but more importantly deliver vital information for coming crop years.
Required by all plant life, potasium (K) plays a major role in photosynthesis, breakdown of carbohydrates, protein synthesis and disease resistance. Most importantly, it can activate at least 80 enzymes that regulate the rates of major plant growth reactions.
Aspire™ is the first-of-its-kind micronutrient-enhanced potash fertilizer. Formed using innovative Nutriform™ technology, Aspire with Boron combines potassium and boron in each granule to help achieve balanced crop nutrition and meet the growing need for micronutrients in crops like corn, soybeans, alfalfa and cotton.
Farmers and retailers who have been in the business for a while probably find themselves wondering why so much attention has been paid to the past several years. After all, sulfur used to pretty much take care of itself, supplied to plants by organic matter and deposited by rainfall.
Yield response of corn to nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) and soybean response to P has been documented to vary within and between fields. USDA and university scientists reported findings from a five-year study in Minnesota that evaluated yield variability and the profitability of variable-rate application of N and P.
In 2010, most farmers were anxiously awaiting long-promised drought-tolerant corn hybrids, Denny Friest, however, would have welcomed moisture-tolerant hybrids on his north-central Iowa farm. Too much moisture often poses the biggest challenge of farming the dense, poorly drained Clarion-Nicolette-Webster soils, which are typical of North America’s vast Prairie Pothole region.
Soil testing is one of the most important management practices for crop production in the new millennium. It is certain to be listed among the best management practices (BMPs) recommended by industry and university agronomists, consultants, and farm managers for the benefit of their farmer clients.
Ammonium sulfate [(NH4)2 SO4] was one of the first and most widely used nitrogen (N) fertilizers for crop production. It’s now less common but especially valuable where both N and sulfur (S) are required. Its high solubility provides versatility for a number of agricultural applications.
In 1991, when Kriss Schroeder put away his veterinary license and came home to farm near Colby, Kan., he knew he’d need an edge to make a living in the dryland region. Schroeder adopted an intensive management program that took a 180-degree approach to traditional summer-fallow wheat production.
Many soils require adding several essential nutrients to alleviate plant deficiencies. Farmers may opt to select a combination of single-nutrient fertilizers or apply a fertilizer that combines several nutrients into each particle. These combination fertilizers (compound or complex) can offer advantages of convenience in the field, economic savings and ease in meeting crop nutritional needs.
Crop advisers promote best management practices for fertilizer use. Everyone supports the concept of applying the right source at the right rate, time and place, but determining what’s “right” is not a simple matter. Society has high expectations for progress on environmental sustainability issues associated with producing sufficient, safe and nutritious food. A framework to connect fertilizer management to science is essential to such progress.
Potassium (K) fertilizer is commonly added to improve the yield and quality of plants growing in soils that are lacking an adequate supply of this essential nutrient. Most fertilizer K comes from ancient salt deposits located throughout the world. The word “potash” is a general term that most frequently refers to potassium chloride (KCl), but it also applies to all other K-containing fertilizers, such as potassium sulfate (K2SO4, commonly referred to as sulfate of potash, or SOP).
Vegetable plant roots absorb nutrients through two distinctly different sequential processes. First, the nutrients must move from the soil to the surface of the plant roots. Second, the nutrients must be able to cross from the outside to the inside of the plant roots. Once the nutrient gets inside the plant, the nutrients can move upward to the leaves and developing vegetable.
A balanced crop nutrition program isn’t done boosting yields after the seed is planted. The role of proper nutrition in preventing disease is often overlooked. The nutrient status of the plant substantially influences the potential degree of disease infection by affecting growth and chemical composition of the tissues. The risk of infection is lowest when an optimal nutrient supply is available.
Precision agriculture technologies can improve efficiency, but many growers still haven’t invested in them, or don’t fully understand how they work. With precision agriculture equipment becoming less expensive, tools such as guidance systems, yield monitors and variable-rate fertilizer applicators are now viable options even for small- to medium-sized farmers.
Straw removal by burning has various nutrient-related implications. For instance, burning helps to reduce nitrogen tie-up and it results in nutrient release from the combusting straw. However, burning can result in the loss of most of the nitrogen and sulfur contained in the residue.
Doubling yields by 2030 is an admirable and daunting goal that plant breeding and biotechnology are sure to play a huge role in achieving. However, in addition to these new technologies, new management practices will be required to optimize yields.
There are countless variables growers are forced to consider as they prepare for the upcoming growing season, and almost as many solutions available to counter the effects of these variances. Unfortunately, the list of strategies that prove effective across extremes is a short one, often leaving growers to manage reactively to the unpredictable.
Of course, there are notable exceptions — the type of crop management decisions that allow producers to make the most out of whatever situation manifests itself between planting and harvest
Diammonium phosphate (DAP) is the world’s most widely used phosphorus fertilizer. It’s made from two common constituents in the fertilizer industry, and its relatively high nutrient content and excellent physical properties make it a popular choice in farming and other industries.
Monoammonium phosphate (MAP) and diammonium phosphate (DAP) are excellent sources of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) for high-yield, high-quality crop production. Research trials at 42 field sites in seven Corn Belt states showed an average corn yield of 162 bushels per acre with MAP and 159 with DAP. MAP (11-52-0) and DAP (18-46-0) contain about 90 percent water-soluble P, which is well above the 60 percent needed for optimum crop growth.
Some growers are considering a shift from a corn and soybeans rotation to continuous corn. More nitrogen (N) will be needed since soybeans will no longer provide some residual N. Other nutrient needs will also change, especially phosphorus (P). Corn, unlike soybeans, is planted early in soils that are more likely to be cool, moist and with a heavier residue cover.
The history of precision nutrient management can be thought of as developing in three phases: adoption, integration and accountability. Dr. Newell Kitchen, USDA-ARS, has highlighted the significant role that nutrient management plays in the industry. “Precision science and technologies allow us to emphasize [the 4Rs] all at the same time; to wrap our arms around the concepts in a way that we can move forward in a meaningful way.”
Regular soil testing is one of the best tools for determining which nutrients are present and how much will be available to your crops. Before sending samples for analysis, it’s important to ensure samples are representative of all fields. Be sure to ask yourself these five questions before soil testing.
Potatoes are grown in nearly every state in the U.S., with sales in excess of $3 billion. Yield, tuber size and specific gravity (dry-matter content) influence quality factors such as frying properties and flavor. Fertility management decisions can influence these as well as storage properties.
Drought’s impact on crops can be sobering, but more than yields suffer. Every nutrient cycle takes a hit in a drought, increasing the imperative to measure nutrients against the 4R nutrient stewardship goal: Apply the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 10,000 nutrient and nutrient-related water quality impairments have been listed across 49 states. Some states and tribes have made progress in moving from “narrative” nutrient criteria to “numeric” criteria for protecting surface water resources, while others have faced more challenges.
Maintenance application is a common strategy to keep soil nutrient test levels from decreasing appreciably. Typically, maintenance applications are used when target soil test levels have been reached or on fields without recent soil test information.
In very wet years, a lot of preplant nitrogen (N) is lost. Wet weather causes N losses somewhere virtually every year. Rescue applications of N fertilizer can help compensate for earlier wet-weather N-loss applications. In many cases, rescue applications can be highly profitable.
Risks associated with fall nitrogen (N) applications fit into four categories: logistical, agronomic, environmental and economic, the last of which currently ties very closely to the others. Yet when farmers manage well for these risks, nitrogen applications can lead to increased profitability in corn production.
For various reasons, sulfur (S) deficiencies are increasing in many areas of the country. Consequently, fertility programs use this nutrient more routinely. The most common chemical forms of S used in fertilizers are sulfate S (SO4) and elemental S (So). But these two forms of S react quite differently in soils. It’s very important to understand the differences between SO4 and So in order to use these two forms in the most effective manner possible.
A thorough understanding of spatial variability in agricultural fields can influence many aspects of nutrient management. Whether it’s what nutrient source to apply, what rate to use, when to make the fertilizer application or what placement method to employ, understanding spatial variability can help growers, advisers, industry and policymakers contribute to more efficient and effective fertilizer management.
Scientists from Arizona State University compared fluid ammonium polyphosphate (10-34-0) applied in irrigation water with granular monoammonium phosphate (MAP) broadcast and irrigated into the soil as phosphorous sources for high-yield alfalfa.
By understanding how nutrients work together, farmers can optimize production and investment in fertilizer while minimizing the opportunity for excess nutrients to negatively impact the environment. Potassium (K) and nitrogen (N) are two vital nutrients that create greater benefits working together than alone.
Liquid fertilizer solutions and fluid fertilizers are popular in many areas because they’re safe to handle, convenient to mix with other nutrients and chemicals, and are easily applied. A solution of urea [CO(NH2)2] and ammonium nitrate [NH4NO3] containing between 28 and 32 percent nitrogen (N) is the most popular fluid N fertilizer.
Keep a log of soil acidity to track the effects of nitrogen (N) applications. Nitrogen acidifies the soil, and soil acidity affects how plants respond to nutrient applications. Logging your soil acidity will help you gain insight into how quickly your soils become more basic after a lime application as well as how quickly they become more acidic when you apply N more frequently.
Without photosynthesis, plant life wouldn’t exist. And without magnesium (Mg), there would be no photosynthesis. Plants couldn’t produce our food, and hunger would become our No. 1 concern. Often the “forgotten nutrient,” Mg is the most essential of the 17 nutrients needed for plant growth.
A recent study of phosphorus reaction to dry and wet soils might offer some peace of mind for growers in drought-affected regions concerned about the nutrient’s availability to plants this season.
It is well documented that phosphorus (P) fertilizers can quickly transform from labile (plant-available) forms into non-labile forms that are ‘tied up’ and unavailable for uptake by plants. While applied P that is tied up will eventually become available to the plant again, the gradual process by which it does so can cause producers to wonder what happens to the nutrient during this downtime.
The Law of the Minimum takes on added importance when fertilizer prices — especially of nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P2O5) products — are high. This may tempt some growers to reduce or even eliminate applications of micronutrient or secondary nutrient fertilizers such as K-Mag®, a source of balanced potassium (K), magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S). But von Liebig’s “Law” tells us clearly that if a soil is deficient in, say, Mg, yields will be depressed regardless of how much N-P-K product you apply.
With the renewed emphasis on getting the most benefit out of fertilizers, no one wants to lose ammonia from applied nitrogen (N) fertilizer. Research has given us excellent management tools for keeping ammonia where it belongs — in the soil. This includes using the right form of N fertilizer and placing it correctly, keeping urea-based fertilizers off the soil surface, and even using additives when appropriate.
Adequate nutrition all season long is a vital component of high-yield, high-quality forage production. Alfalfa specialists suggest building phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) soil fertility levels to high and liming acidic soils to pH 6.5 to 7.0 prior to the establishment process. Then the alfalfa stand will require special attention to fertility maintenance, frequency of harvest, use of crop protection chemicals, and other practices, for years of high-level production.
What has changed to bring about a need for supplemental sulfur in crop production? The first occurrences of sulfur (S) deficiency in corn were reported in the 1960s. At the time, sulfur deficiency was virtually unheard of. Textbooks devoted chapters to nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and their roles in crop production. Sulfur received only short paragraphs. Today, the situation is quite different.
Soil testing is the farmer’s best tool for determining and managing phosphorus (P) levels in their fields. Testing can confirm increases in soil test phosphorus resulting from application of P and also document how much crop removal has decreased soil test phosphorus.
Worldwide, most soils and crops require phosphorus (P) additions to improve fertility and production. Directly applying unprocessed phosphate rock to soil may provide a valuable source of plant nutrients in specific conditions, but growers must consider several complicating factors and limitations.
Reduced tillage systems teamed with surface applications of fertilizer phosphorus (P) often results in an accumulation of P in the surface soil and depletion of available P deeper in the soil profile. Research workers at the University of Kentucky and Kansas State University conducted a three-year study of tillage and P nutrient management on soils with a stratified level of available P. Four P management methods were studied with three tillage systems.
Single superphosphate (SSP) was the first commercial mineral fertilizer, and it led to the development of the modern plant nutrient industry. This material was once the most commonly used fertilizer, but other phosphorus (P) fertilizers have largely replaced SSP because of its relatively low P content.
In the summer of 2008, after wet weather in much of the central United States, soils began to dry, and farmers felt an urgent need to get in the field as quickly as possible to prepare soils and plant as the optimum planting window narrowed. As a result, some soils may have been tilled at moisture levels that were prime for increased compaction at the bottom of the implement’s depth of travel. Soil compaction may have also increased more than normal beneath tractor wheels and the tracks of heavy fertilizer, herbicide and seed tender machinery.
Corn yields today are skyrocketing. In the next decade, Americans will be producing 17 billion bushels of corn each year, compared to 12.4 billion produced in 2011. Making sound soil management decisions will be increasingly important to boosting corn yields to produce the food the world needs.
High crop yields often come under scrutiny because of the fertilizer levels needed to produce such yields and because of the perception and reality of the potential environmental impacts of those inputs. Yet, maintaining food production for the growing world population requires using new technology and intensifying production and management to grow more food on current cropland. Fertilizer is essential
for accomplishing this.
Most agricultural soils contain some microorganisms that can oxidize elemental sulfur (SO). However, the most important organisms in this respect are a group of bacteria belonging to the genus Thiobacillus. It’s s the number of these bacteria that generally determines the degree to which So is converted to sulfate sulfur (SO4) in soils, and there can be large differences between soils in the population density of Thiobacillus. Under laboratory conditions, researchers can markedly increase the rate of So oxidation in some soils by inoculation with Thiobacillus. However, under field conditions, inoculation has not been found very effective.
Drought is a simple and unfortunate fact of life that farmers must endure from time to time. Those who went before us endured these challenges, and so will today’s farmers. Nevertheless, given recent and ongoing extreme weather conditions, it’s sensible to review a few of the basic considerations farmers must weigh when planning fertilizer applications for their suffering fields.
The status of soil fertility levels is an indicator of the sustainability of farming. For this reason, every five years, the staff of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)
and cooperating private and public laboratories across the United States and Canada summarize soil test levels for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) as well as pH to get an inventory of soil fertility levels across North America.
Soil sampling and testing is one of the best tools we have to assess field nutrient availability. Yet in the small-grains growing area of the Northern Great Plains, only 10 to 15 percent of fields undergo annual soil testing, and only 25 percent are soil-tested every few years, suggesting unrealized yields and nutrient application inefficiencies. Even so, because of increasing grain and fertilizer prices, demand grows for expanded soil testing to fine-tune fertilizer recommendations and assist in maximizing net returns.
Sulfur is an essential component of two amino acids, methionine and cysteine. These amino acids are key building blocks needed for protein formation in the cotton plant. A shortage of sulfur (S) can trigger inefficient plant use of nitrogen (N), since both are required for protein development.
Normally it’s best to take soil and plant samples following back-to-back plantings of the same crop, which creates a consistent basis for comparing fields and picking out trends over time. Most samples are taken in late summer and fall to allow ample time for planning a crop nutrition program based on the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship — applying the right nutrient source, at the right rate, time and place.
Soil scientists and consultants often get confronted with these questions: “My soil analysis showed a high level of nutrient ‘X.’ Is all this ‘X’ actually available for uptake by plants? Might I see a response to applications of ‘X’?” Soil analysis techniques have been designed to extract only the amount of a nutrient available for plant uptake. It’s the whole idea behind soil analysis work — to distinguish between “available” and “unavailable” soil nutrients.
As the demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel increases to meet the needs of a growing global population, managing soil fertility becomes increasingly important. Not only must growers properly manage soil fertility to optimize its productivity, they must maintain soil nutrients and organic matter as part of comprehensive soil conservation efforts.
The principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship require scientific support for the choice of practices that deliver the right source of nutrients at the right rate, time and place. The science needs to test these practices for their outcomes in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability.
Plant experts often say that high yields of good-quality crops don’t result from any one factor (such as fertilizer application or planting the best variety), but to a whole set of effective management inputs, generally defined as “best management practices.” Keeping the importance of best management practices top of mind, it’s instructive to consider the interactions of soil fertility and soil compaction in affecting plant growth.
Dr. Fred Below, professor of Plant Physiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has spent his entire career looking at corn physiology and factors that impact yield. His research includes how new technology and management systems are changing the face of crop production. Here he shares the five management factors for a high-yield corn system.
The cornerstone of profitable crop production is a sound soil fertility program. Such programs require forethought and planning. One of the most useful tools farmers can use in soil fertility planning is soil testing. Planning a fertility program without soil test data is largely guesswork. Other factors to consider in planning an efficient fertility program are fertilizer rates of application, placement and timing.
Triple superphosphate (TSP) was one of the first high-analysis phosphorus (P) fertilizers that became widely used in the 20th century. Technically, it’s known as calcium dihydrogen phosphate and as monocalcium phosphate, [Ca(H2PO4)2 .H2O]. Despite its excellent history as a P source, its use has declined as other P fertilizers have become more popular.
While there certainly is no shortage of information available on how different crop inputs and solutions perform on research test plots around the world, there is no substitute for seeing firsthand how a new seed, chemical, technology or input will perform on your own land, with your management style.
Whether striving to reach 300-bushel-per-acre corn, 80-bushel-per-acre soybeans or just steady yield growth on their acreage, farmers are focused on continuous improvement. As Michael Porter’s quote suggests, this type of continuous improvement goes hand in hand with strategy. Farmers who commit to a regular soil-sampling strategy, for example, often make more-informed decisions about their farm’s ongoing productivity.
Ask an agriculture industry professional about surviving tough times, and you’re sure to get a good story. Or two or three. In a climate as challenging as the one we’re experiencing these days, just about everyone can describe a rough patch they not only endured, but conquered. We asked leaders inside and outside of agriculture for thoughts on how to manage best when things seem most chaotic.
Fertilizer potassium is sometimes called “potash”, a term that comes from an early production technique where potassium was leached from wood ashes and concentrated by evaporating the leachate in large iron pots (“pot-ash”). Clearly, this practice is no longer practical and is not environmentally sustainable. In food production, potassium is removed from the soil in harvested crops and must be replaced in order to maintain future crop growth.
For any successful business owner, planning for the long term requires time, resources and (most importantly) a strategy designed to achieve prospective goals. The same can be said for a successful farm. Outlining a strategy to help build soil fertility over time is a smart investment that will result in yield dividends in future years. A long-term soil fertility plan is one that actively tracks the available nutrients in the soil, uses critical data to determine correct fertility needs, and applies fertilizer in a science-based and responsible, yet consistent, way.
Bermudagrass is an important summer perennial for both grazing and hay production, and has been a part of southern agriculture for at least 250 years. Its desirable characteristics include high yield potential, drought resistance, and a degree of soil acidity tolerance. Hybrid bermudagrass is generally more productive than common. Coastal, introduced in 1943, has been the standard hybrid over much of the southern US; however, other hybrids such as Tifton 85 have made significant inroads over the past few years.
The Mosaic Company is committed to helping reduce the amount of agricultural phosphate nutrients in the water, while balancing the essential need for phosphorus fertilizer in crop production. When properly managed, fertilizer provides economic, environmental and social benefits. Mosaic also supports retailers’ and growers’ efforts to apply 4R Nutrient Stewardship through science-based and field-specific fertilizer use and partners with industry associations, conservation groups and environmentally focused organizations whose work supports increased soil health, improved nutrient stewardship and crop production innovation.
When measuring phosphorus (P) availability in the soil profile, agronomists tend to focus on the first few inches of topsoil. After all, P fertilizer is applied to the upper soil layer, reduced tillage limits soil mixing, most roots are present at upper depths, and P is relatively immobile in the soil. So, the top layer should be where plants take most P from, right? Not entirely.
One of the social requirements of farming today is to run a sustainable business. But that doesn’t mean science should fall by the wayside. Just the opposite, in fact. For several years, agriculture has been adopting scientific principles for sustainable cropping called the 4R’s <http://www.nutrientstewardship.com>. The 4R’s help farmers achieve environmental, economic and social responsibility, all while improving the soil they rely on.
Poking holes, pulling cores, taking samples — whatever terminology you are familiar with, the practice of soil testing remains fundamental to a sound soil fertility program. In fact, the practice is so ingrained in our minds as agronomists that we tend to take it for granted at times. We mention it in most all of our talks, but often gloss over the details,
The ‘Golden Triangle’ in north-central Montana is called that for its bountiful wheat harvests. Chris Barge looks at the near-perfect moisture conditions this past fall and winter, sees the know-how of the growers in his area, and foresees an exceptional year for winter wheat.
There are bushels out in your soybean acres just waiting for an artful hand to bring them forth. Agronomic strategies could boost the take by 10 bushels an acre, with half of those coming through proper nutrient application, according to research conducted by Dr. Fred Below and Dr. Ross Bender at the University of Illinois.
After wrapping up a successful harvest, deciding on a fall fertilizer plan is fast approaching. With commodity prices lower than in past years, the decision becomes even more complicated than usual. However, it’s important to remember that with record yields removed from the field this fall, record nutrients were removed from the soil as well. In order to replicate high yields in future years, those nutrients must be replenished.
If your nutrient application isn’t uniform, then you really don’t know how much food your crops have at their root tips. Uniform distribution of fertilizer application can be the difference that gets the plants to bountiful production and ensures the farmer’s return on investment.
If you’re watching the yield monitor reveal higher numbers than ever before, it means this planning season you will need to pay more attention to what nutrients are left in the soil than you may be used to. As we celebrate harvest, it’s an opportune time to also celebrate soil fertility — the most important contributing factor to yields this past year and in years to come.
Justus von Liebig, a 19th century German chemist, made great contributions to the science of plant nutrition and soil fertility. While Carl Sprengel, a German botanist, formulated the “theory of minimum,” Liebig investigated and popularized the scientific concept we know today as “Liebig’s Law of the Minimum.” This concept demonstrates that plant growth is not controlled by the total amount of available resources but by the scarcest.
When we make a fertilizer recommendation for a farmer, what is it based on? It is usually based on a composite soil sample representing the average fertility of the entire field. When we do this, we fail to address the spatial variability of nutrients in the field resulting from changes in soil type, topography, previous cropping history and many other factors. Even precision farming strategies such as management zones fail to account for all of the spatial variability found in agricultural fields.
Will it work for me? This question echoes in our minds as we sit through presentations at meetings, read news releases and listen to farm broadcasts. There’s a lot of information out there about new practices and products. How much of what is offered will really make a difference?
In wheat, sulfur and nitrogen are needed in a proper balance for desirable milling and baking qualities. MAP (11-52-0) is commonly used as a phosphorus fertilizer source applied to durum wheat. MicroEssentials® S15™ (13-33-0-15S) provides N, P and S in one nutritionally balanced granule. Averaged across three years and 12 replicated trials, MicroEssentials S15 outyielded MAP. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
High-yield management practices have highlighted the need for balanced crop nutrition. Micronutrients such as boron are critical for cell growth and reproductive development stages to increase yield. In this study, Aspire® with Boron (0-0-58-0.5B) outyielded MOP (0-0-60) demonstrating the benefit of boron and uniform nutrient distribution in a high-yield management system. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
High-yield-management practices have highlighted the need for balanced crop nutrition. Corn yield response to MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) when compared to MAP (11-52-0) was consistent across three years and a wide range of environmental conditions. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
MAP (11-52-0) is commonly used as a phosphorus fertilizer source applied to durum wheat. Durum wheat is also known to be responsive to zinc fertility. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) provides N, P, K and Zn in one nutritionally balanced granule. Averaged across four years and 16 replicated trials, MicroEssentials outyielded MAP. For more information, MicroEssentials.com.
Managing nitrogen nutrition makes a big contribution to the yield and quality of winter wheat. Choosing the right source, rate, time and place of nitrogen application improves not only your own profit, but also, food and nutrition security for people around the world.
MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) provides N, P, K and Zn in one nutritionally-balanced granule. The MicroEssentials patented Fusion® technology process creates a unique chemistry that results in increased nutrient uptake and crop yield compared to alternative sources. Pot trials conducted under greenhouse conditions on a clay loam soil resulted in MicroEssentials SZ increasing phosphorus uptake by 28% compared to the DAP + AS + ZnO4 blend. In the same study, MicroEssentials SZ resulted in a 100% phosphorus uptake increase compared to DAP and the DAP + AS blend. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
High-yield management practices have highlighted the need for balanced crop nutrition. Micronutrients such as boron are critical for cell growth and reproductive development stages to increase yield. In this study, Aspire® with Boron (0-0-58-0.5B) outyielded MOP (0-0-60) demonstrating the benefit of boron and uniform nutrient distribution in a high-yield management system. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
MAP is commonly used as a phosphorus source in corn-growing regions of North America. Fall applications of MAP and MAP blends may be preferred in certain cropping system to distribute seasonal workload, but spring applications are also common practice in the Midwest. In this study, MicroEssentials® SZ™ had the highest yield in both fall and spring applications. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
Zinc (Zn) deficiency is the most widespread micronutrient disorder in rice. Rice is very responsive to Zn application; therefore, it is critical to evaluate the effect of Zn application rates on rice yield. DAP (18-46-0) + AS )21-0-0-24S) + ZnSO4 (0-0-0-16.5S-36Zn) is often used as a fertilizer blend applied to rice. In this study, MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) was compared to a blend of DAP + AS + ZnSO4 applied at different rates. The results showed increased rice yields with higher rates of zinc applied. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
MAP (11-52-0) + 10-34-0 is commonly used as a primary phosphate fertilizer source in sugarbeet-growing regions of North America. In addition to N, P, K, sugarbeets are very responsive to Mg, S and Zn. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn), MicroEssentials® S10™ (12-40-0-10S) and K-Mag® (0-0-0-22-11Mg-22S) are superior alternatives to the common practice of MAP. Averaged across three years and 4 replicated trials, MicroEssentials S10 and MicroEssentials SZ resulted in higher root yield and RSA than the MAP treatment alone. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
Preplant applications of MOP are a common practice in cotton production. Many growers also add boron (B) to their preplant and sidedress blends. Cotton requires B in relatively large amounts. If not present, B is the micronutrient most likely to limit cotton production. In this study, a preplant application of Aspire® outyielded a preplant application of MOP by 146 lbs lint/ac. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
Seedbed Utilization (SBU) is the amount of the seedbed over which the fertilizer is spread. This is expressed as % SBU (width of spread divided by the row spacing and multiplied by 100). Therefore, at a given application rate, the more narrow the row spacing, the higher SBU and the lower the potential seed damage. Averaged across three years and nine locations, MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) can safely be applied with the soybean seed up to 40 lbs P205/ac (100 lbs MicroEssentials SZ/ac) in 7.5” row spacing and 32 lbs P205/ac (80 lbs MicroEssentials SZ/ac) in 30” row spacing. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
MAP (11-52-0) is a commonly used P fertilizer applied to winter wheat. In addition to nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), other nutrients like sulfur (S) and zinc (Zn) are also critical for maximum yield and better nutritional quality of wheat. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) provides N, P, K and Zn in one nutritionally balanced granule. Averaged across two years and 16 replicated trials, MicroEssentials out yielded MAP and a MAP (11-52-0) + AS (21-0-0-24S) + ZnSO4 (0-0-0-16.5S-36Zn) blend at varying P rates. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
Micronutrients such as boron are essential for plant growth and are often overlooked in efforts to balance crop nutrition. In this study, Aspire® with Boron (0-0-58-0.5B) out yielded MOP (0-0-60), MOP + boron (B) blend and MOP + foliar B treatments, demonstrating the advantages of uniform nutrient distribution with a premium potash fertilizer containing boron. Granular B products can be blended with K, but application of these blends leads to undesirable distribution. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
MAP (11-52-0) is commonly used as a phosphorus source in corn-growing regions of North America. Ammonium sulfate (AS) and zinc sulfate (ZnSO4) are often blended with MAP to provide sulfur and zinc. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) contains nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and zinc fused into one nutritionally balanced granule, creating a single source for balanced crop nutrition. Averaged across 2 years and 14 trials, MicroEssentials SZ outyielded MAP by 9.4 bu/ac (4.6%) and outyielded MAP + AS + ZnSO4 blend by 8.6 bu/ac (4.2%). For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
MOP (0-0-60) is commonly used a potassium (K) source in soybean production. Micronutrients such as boron (B) are essential for plant growth and are often overlooked in efforts to balance crop nutrition. In this study, Aspire® with Boron (0-0-58-0.5B) outyielded MOP by 1.1 bu/ac and the MOP + B blend by 0.9 bu/ac demonstrating the value of boron and uniform nutrient distribution. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
MAP (11-52-0) + AS (21-0-0-24S) + ZnSO4 (0-0-0-16.5S-36Zn) is often used a fertilizer blend applied to corn. Nutrient recommendations often call for high rates of zinc (Zn) due to uneven distribution and lack of crop nutrient uptake from a traditional blend. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) combines four nutrients (N, P, S, Zn) fused into one nutritionally balanced granule, promoting uniform nutrient distribution, improved nutrient uptake and increased yield. Trial research, across 11 locations, showed MicroEssentials SZ is at least 3X more efficient as a Zn source than a conventional MAP + AS + ZnSO4 blend. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
Growers in the spring Wheat Belt do not traditionally apply MOP. There is an increasing need to add MOP to the nutrient management program to meet the potassium needs of the crop. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) provides N, P, K and Zn including a season-long sulfur supply. Trial research from 5 locations indicated that using MicroEssentials SZ + MOP increased yield in spring wheat. For more information, MicroEssentials.com.
Boron (B) is the micronutrient whose deficiency is most likely to limit cotton production. Cotton requires B in relatively large amounts compared to other crops. In this study, Aspire® with Boron (0-0-58-0.5B) outyielded MOP (0-0-60) and MOP + B blend. Aspire with Boron + foliar B outyielded MOP + B blend + foliar B. The higher yields with Aspire compared to other treatments demonstrate the advantages of uniform nutrient distribution from Nutriform™ technology. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
Izaak Rathke is no stranger to competition, and one of his main goals as Director of Sales for Allied Cooperative in Western Wisconsin is to keep his customers competitive in the world of row crop agriculture. Izaak Rathke grew up sport fishing with his dad in La Crosse. He learned early that bringing together the right tools with the knowledge to use them is a winning combination. “This spring in Alabama, I caught a 25-inch, 8.5-pound largemouth bass,” Rathke says, happy that for the past four years, he has been able to participate in professional bass tournaments, just like when he was a teen.
Q: What are the main considerations when making manure a part of your fertility plan? - Brian Gordon, via CropNutrition.com Facebook page. According to Mike Ballweg, a University of Wisconsin Extension soils and crops expert, there are a number of important things to consider before you can successfully include manure in your farm fertility plan.
Fine-tuning your soil fertility approach might start with understanding what the crop is feeling when it’s feeling it. Tissue testing used to be a practice reserved for “high-value” crops like fruits, vegetables and cotton. But in the era of 200-plus bushel corn and 50-plus bushel soybean yields, notions of “high-value” crops are shifting. Row crops, for which in-season management decisions can have significant impacts on yield, benefit from tissue sampling as a regular part of the plan for balanced crop nutrition.
Unfenced pitched questions to three experts, to dig deeper into testing tips and theories. Q: What are the top quality-control considerations when setting up and running a test plot on your farm? JC: One of the important things is to replicate your treatments. A minimum of three replications of your whole set of treatments is necessary. Four is better, and more than four is even better.
Spoiler alert: There is no magic black box where a clod of soil or a plant leaf goes in and a bunch of numbers come out the other side.
Instead, lab technicians dry, grind and burn samples, as well as subject them to acid baths and other chemical processes, all the while maintaining identification and quality control protocols to ensure that the results capture the nutrients and other characteristics of the exact piece of land and/or plant from which the samples originated.
Precision agriculture means many things to many people. When it comes to nutrient management, it means a deeper understanding of soil fertility. The low-cost availability of the global positioning system (GPS) launched a new era in agriculture. “It was a game changer,” says Curt Woolfolk, senior agronomist for Western North America at The Mosaic Company. “That’s what really launched precision agriculture. It gave us the ability to mark areas of interest within a field, and then return to those areas at a later point in the growing season or subsequent years. One of the many advantages that this technology brought was related to soil sampling.
A variety of expert sources expect that by the year 2050, farmers across the globe will be responsible for feeding nine billion people. And still, farm acres in the United States are harder to come by each year. So the obvious answer to a very tough equation is that more food will need to come from each acre — in other words, yields need to keep increasing for the long term.
Download PDF. Issue 1: While soybeans were introduced to the United States in the late 1800s as a forage source for cattle, it wasn’t until 1935 that the number of acres for soybean grain exceeded forage-based acres. This milestone marked the beginning of a new era in soybean production, which has influenced the fertility needs of soybeans.
Download PDF. Issue 3: The objective of a recently published study conducted by University of Illinois plant physiologist Dr. Fred Below and recent doctoral graduates Dr. Ross Bender and Dr. Jason Haegele was to identify which secondary macronutrients and micronutrients demand attention in a new era of soybean production. Genetic and agronomic advancements have helped soybeans achieve record yields, with record nutrient requirements and removal (Table 1). The research team cites significant gaps in the understanding of secondary macronutrients and micronutrients at current soybean yield levels. Findings from this study were used to help address common misconceptions regarding nutrient management for maximum soybean profit.
Download PDF. Issue 3: Corn growers need balanced crop nutrition to maximize a corn crop’s yield potential and get the most out of their fertilizer investment. In practice, this requires making all of the required nutrients available to the corn crop at the right time. Sulfur (S) is an important part of your balanced crop nutrition plan
Download PDF. Issue 3: Are you seed-placing your phosphorus (P) and basing application rates on seed safety rather than crop requirements? You may be leaving yield on the table. Recent research out of the University of Manitoba examining seed-safe rates of P and sulfur (S) in canola is showing that P applied at rates based on seed safety may not be adequate to maximize canola yields.
Download PDF. Issue 3: Since 1980, corn yields have increased by more than 1.8 bu/ac per year. Soybean and wheat yields have increased by more than 0.45 and 0.3 bu/ac per year, respectively. In 2014, record U.S. corn and soybean yields are expected. Some Midwest farmers are already reporting corn yields in some fields approaching 300 bu/ac.
Download PDF. Issue 3: Raising a productive crop depends greatly on the nutrients a plant is able to access during its life cycle. Many factors in uence the availability of those nutrients, including soil pH. For instance, as soil pH increases, the availability of phosphorus (P), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe) decreases. Although variety selection can help manage iron de ciency in soybeans, fertilizer application is still needed to address the P and Zn de ciencies prevalent in high-pH soils.
Download PDF. When measuring phosphorus (P) availability in the soil pro le, agronomists tend to focus on the rst few inches of topsoil. After all, P fertilizer is applied to the upper soil layer, reduced tillage limits soil mixing, most roots are present at upper depths and P is relatively immobile in the soil. So, the top layer should be where plants take most P from, right? Not entirely.
Blends of MAP (11-52-0) + AS (21-0-0-24S) are commonly used as a primary fertilizer source in canola-growing regions of North America. MicroEssentials® S15™ (13-33-0-15S) is a proprietary fertilizer that combines nitrogen, phosphorus and sulfur fused into one nutritionally balanced granule. Averaged across three years and 24 trials, MicroEssentials S15 increased yield over the MAP + AS blend. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
MOP (0-0-60) is a commonly used as a potassium (K) source in alfalfa. In addition to K, alfalfa removes approximately 1.5 oz boron (B) per ton of dry matter. Granular B products can be blended with K, but application of these blends often leads to undesirable distribution. In this study, Aspire® with Boron (0-0-58-0.5B) outyielded MOP by 0.5 tons/ac demonstrating the benefit of uniform nutrient distribution. For more information, visit AspirePotash.com.
Blends of MAP (11-52-0) + AS (21-0-0-24S) are commonly used as a primary fertilizer source in canola-growing regions of North America. MicroEssentials® SZ™ (12-40-0-10S-1Zn) is a proprietary fertilizer that combines nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and zinc fused into one nutritionally balanced granule. Averaged across three years, MicroEssentials SZ increased yield over the MAP+AS blend. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
MAP (11-52-0) + AS (21-0-0-24S) is a common phosphorus (P) and sulfur (S) fertilizer blend used in the canola-growing regions of North America. Canola seed is very sensitive to seed placed in close proximity to P and S fertilizers. MicroEssentials® S15™ (13-33-0-15S) contains N, P and S fused into one nutritionally balanced granule, and the estimated salt index is lower (21.2) compared to AS (68.3). MicroEssentials S15 outyielded MAP + AS at all P rates demonstrating the additional seed safety that can be achieved with MicroEssentials S15. For more information, visit MicroEssentials.com.
I no longer qualify for the “early career professionals” demographic or the much-catered-to Millennials club. However, as a Baby Boomer, my “senior” perspective does provide an opportunity to observe what in fact stands the test of time across the decades, whether for social issues or for basic principles of crop management.
Sulfur deficiency in corn can masquerade as nitrogen deficiency. Boron deficiency in soybeans may remain hidden — the only sign being a yield below optimal. Liebig’s Law of the Minimum sums up the whole concept of balanced crop nutrition.
Have you ever seen a soybean field where aphids infested some areas more than others? There’s a good chance the pattern might follow potassium (K) availability. Research conducted around ten years ago in Wisconsin and Michigan studied this phenomenon in detail.
Historically, many soybean fertility programs are based on the philosophy of “make do with what’s left.” But progressive growers are finding it’s important not to forget this crop’s primary job is to pull nutrients out of the soil, and that those nutrients need to be replenished.
Download PDF. Issue 2: Corn yields today are skyrocketing. Continued advancements in corn genetics and the next generation of insect-control traits have played a large role in improving yield potential. However, new research shows more than just yield potential of corn is changing. Nutrient uptake of new hybrids is also changing.
Download PDF. Issue 1: Rapid adoption of rootworm-resistant corn hybrids in the past five years has helped many farmers take corn yields to the next level. While corn varieties with insect resistance traits have eased insect control, it’s important to remember that the investment in high-tech seed must be paired with other state-of-the-art agronomic practices, including a strong soil fertility program and balanced crop nutrition.
Over the last several decades there have been substantial yield improvements in soybean. Because of new varieties and new agronomic practices, the yield potential in soybean is higher now than ever before. But a lack of updated information on the nutritional needs of soybean crops may be limiting the crop's potential.