Preparing for a Hefty Harvest...And Beyond

The growing season of 2014 has the potential to yield a record harvest in many areas of the country. With good weather conditions, high soil fertility and a combination of high-yielding varieties, crops look strong and healthy. But there’s more being removed from the fields than just a crop harvest — record yields mean record nutrient removal from the soil.

As yields increase, the amount of nutrients required to obtain those yields also increases. In fact, research has shown that up to 60 percent of yields is dependent on soil fertility.

Research from Dr. Fred Below, professor of crop science at the University of Illinois, has shown how much fertilizer is taken up each day by high-yielding crops. For soybeans averaging 62 bushels per acre, nearly 17 pounds of fertilizer are removed from each acre every day during peak growth times. Meanwhile, corn yielding an average of 220 bushels per acre is removing nearly twice that amount, or more than 32 pounds of fertilizer per acre every day.

As yield totals roll in during harvest, consider the nutrients being removed from the field along with the grain. To continue to meet high yield goals year after year, those nutrients will need to be replenished at the start of and throughout the next growing season.

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