Five things to consider to get your growing season off to the best start possible.
Volatile prices, changing foreign markets and weather events represent some of the uncontrollable factors facing farmers every year. As you look to limit that risk by eliminating yield-inhibiting factors, you may want to start with the soil beneath their feet. Making sure your soil is up to the challenge of the upcoming season is the first step toward minimizing risk.
When it comes to crop nutrition and your soil fertility plan, you need to make sure you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's. Checklists aren't for everyone, but defining a clear process to ensure you are properly covering bases is critical in the execution of a successful nutrient management plan. Feel free to use and print the Soil Fertility Checklist below as your starting point.
Even before the 2013 crop is in the bin, growers should begin putting thought into how they will proactively manage their 2014 fertility programs. One of the most important investments made in a crop season, a fertility program should be looked at holistically, and involve preparatory steps and decisions long before winter’s downtime.
Soil sampling has adapted and evolved over time. As genetics, crop nutrition, equipment and precision ag technologies have matured, so has the need for more advanced soil sampling in the field.
When an agronomist visits a field to diagnose a problem, it’s not unlike a doctor attempting to uncover the source of a patient’s discomfort.
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.
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.
Unfenced pitched questions to three experts, to dig deeper into testing tips and theories.
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.
Soil test calibration research conducted by Dr. Antonio Mallarino with the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University has produced new data for potassium (K). According to Dr. Scott Murrell, for soil tests to have meaning, they must be calibrated to yield response. Much of the calibration data for soybeans was collected decades ago, when varieties, tillage and other management practices were much different than they are today. Using outdated interpretations of soil test levels can lead to misapplications of nutrients for current and future soybean production. Consequently, the need for updated information is ever-present.