As growers prepare to get into the field, consider offering these tips to help evaluate their needs. Ensure all bases are covered before they get seed in the ground during this time of uncertainty.
Five things to consider to get your growing season off to the best start possible.
Phosphorus (P) fertilizer is often added to cropping systems to increase yield, but growers should not overlook the importance of micronutrients like Zinc (Zn). Understanding some of the nutrient interactions that affect nutrient availability can help with management decisions like fertilizer source.
In areas around the country that have had a wet spring, some wheat fields are yellowing, an indication of nutrient deficiency. The culprit may be leachable nutrients – such as nitrogen or sulfur – made worse by the intense rainfall.
The last few years have thrown many growers a curveball in terms of weather patterns. From a drought in 2012 across much of the Corn Belt to a too-wet-to-plant spring last year in many states, the only constant in the weather is that it’s going to change. Moisture and temperature play a major role in the yield potential of crops, so understanding the interaction of weather and nutrients is an important step in achieving higher yields and environmental stewardship.
It's a good idea to start planning for this spring’s fertilizer applications, and it’s important to know some of the key factors to consider before making nutrient management decisions.
Required by all plant life, potassium (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. The aforementioned activities should all occur in-season, but what can be done to ensure a crop has the proper levels of K to carry out these functions? And should the applications be made in the fall or spring?
To say Dr. Tom Bruulsema wrote the book on 4R Nutrient Stewardship isn't much of a stretch. In 1994, Dr. Bruulsema joined the Potash & Phosphate Institute, which in 2007 became the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). Based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, Bruulsema has helped spearhead the development of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship concept, including the coediting of the IPNI 4R Plant Nutrition manual.
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.
"When you look at plant roots and consider that, for example, a nutrient like phosphorus is very critical for early seedling nutrition, you should also consider the direction the corn roots go - they tend to go out and downward at a 45-degree angle.
Accommodating and instituting best management practices to achieve this pivotal component of nutrient stewardship seems simple enough. But dive into the intricacies associated with sourcing the perfect nutrient for each situation, and you'll find that maybe even the most seasoned grower could glean a couple tips from a holistic look at nutrient source selection.
When it comes to the 4Rs of crop nutrition (right source, right rate, right time, right place), many farmers focus most of their attention on right rate. However, as Dr. T. Scott Murrell explains, the 4Rs should be thought of as a system that intertwines and works together to create a well-managed crop nutrition program. The R that coordinates them all is right time.