As yield levels increase, so does the demand for nutrients not often considered as standard practice. This means that a high-yield system requires more attention be paid to micronutrients. In fact, is it possible that we are pushing the limits of our soil as we push yields to the next level.
As we grow corn-yield thresholds from 150 bushels per acre in the past, to 175-200, bushels and finally 250-300, we’ve substantially increased the demand for all nutrients, not just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Take boron, for instance. Boron is an essential nutrient and key part of the plant life cycle, especially around pollination, when the plant’s ability to access the nutrient is critical. Soil texture, soil organic matter content, and rainfall/irrigation are the three most important factors affecting boron availability in soils.
The question is, will enough boron be in your soils to achieve full yield potential? There may have been enough for 150-175 bu/A corn, but how about now, as you push populations with high-tech seeds that ask more of your soil than ever before?
In this new era of high yields and increased demand for nutrients, these are the types of questions we need to address through a balanced crop nutrition plan. I think it’s important that growers and the people who advise them realize that what they’re trying to do now is different. That means you have to make decisions differently.
There’s a risk associated with relying on the soil to provide boron, compounded by the fact that after you’ve noticed signs of boron deficiency in a plant, it’s too late to correct it. You don’t want to assume the soil will supply all the required boron with more potential profit on the line than ever before.
Dr. Kyle Freeman is manager of new product development for The Mosaic Company. He is responsible for oversight and management of all research and product development efforts worldwide. Dr. Freeman and his team manage more than 600 small-plot research trials around the world and initiated a commercial trial program with more than 200 locations in 2012.