July 3, 2022
Fargo, US 73 F

Tips to Maximize Fertilizer Efficiency

Growers seeking to capitalize on favorable commodity prices should have a plan in place to feed their crops with the nutrients needed to maximize yield. Taylor Purucker, Eastern North American crop nutrition lead for The Mosaic Company, offers advice for ways growers can equip their crops with the right nutrients at the right time throughout the season. Purucker says up to 60 percent of yield is dependent on soil fertility, which means replenishing nutrients on an annual basis is important to prevent nutrient mining.

“What this indicates is that other crop management practices, whether this be seed traits, pesticides, even things like nitrogen fertilizer, are dependent on the amount of nutrients that we supply, and it’s very difficult to optimize those other factors of crop management if we don’t have a solid crop nutrition foundation. Specific nutrients needs are dependent on a range of different variables. This can be fairly dynamic based on the soil type. So, regular soil sampling is the first step in creating a balanced crop nutrition program. I always encourage growers to work with their local crop consultant for crop advisors to create a balanced crop nutrition program. Ultimately, this will help identify economical fertilizer rates and optimize yield levels.”

Having the right nutrients available from the day seeds are placed in the ground will help crops develop a strong root system and aggressive growth pattern that will ultimately help plants withstand stress and lead to higher yield potential. Purucker says the first thing growers should do is make sure their soil pH is right.

“If soil pH is too high or if it’s too low nutrients may not be available for the plant to use them. After that, when planning fertilizer applications, consider the short and long term weather forecast. Timely and moderate rainfall can be beneficial however, this can be a problem, excessive rain can increase the potential for runoff. On the other hand, dry environmental conditions can limit the amount of mobility that a nutrient has. And if there isn’t an opportunity to apply fertilizer before planting, I would encourage growers to look for a window of opportunity to get essential nutrients to the ground with a fertilizer that has a flexible application window and has nutrients that are water soluble and available for the plant to use.”

Also, implement the 4Rs of nutrient management to ensure nutrients are available during peak uptake periods. Purucker says growers will want to keep an eye on any signs their crops may be suffering from nutrient deficiency.

“As growers or crop consultants are scouting fields for weeds or disease or insect issues, I would encourage them to also look for leaf discoloration and take tissue samples to have tested that may indicate some sort of nutrient deficiency. Comparing this with soil samples and help you tell a really detailed story of what’s going on. If there are signs of a deficiency, it’s likely that some yield has been lost, but this provides an opportunity for a rescue nutrient application. Consider a fertilizer that provides nutrients immediately available to the plant for rescue applications such as K-Mag, which is a unique mineral fertilizer that provides a balance of naturally combined potassium, magnesium and sulfur or topdressing with nutrients that are mobile in the soil like nitrogen and sulfur with a fertilizer product like MicroEssentials, or boron with the fertilizer product like Aspire can provide in season benefits for balanced crop nutrition.”

He wishes farmers the best of luck this planting season.

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