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.
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.
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 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.
A recent study of phosphorus (P) reaction to dry and wet soils offers insight about the fate and availability of phosphorus fertilizer when applied to dry soils¹.
Mother Nature pummeled farmers across the U.S. this past summer (2012). Crops wilted and collapsed, soils parched, and some streams faded to trickles. Important nitrogen (N) management questions were faced by farmers suffering through this drought.
The right time to take soil samples is in rhythm with the crop rotation. Normally it’s best to sample 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. But, in a drought, is fall sampling still a good idea? Yes. And the facts support it.