Condition Critical For Soil Fertility

As fertility planning time approaches, there’s a growing concern about the sustainability of fertility practices over the last decade. Dr. Paul Fixen of the International Plant Nutrition Institute presented evidence of this concern at the InfoAg Conference in July, and discussed a soon to be completed report that will provide deeper insight into the issue. A recent information release from The Mosiac Co., which follows below, does a good job of outlining the issues.

In many areas of the Corn Belt, nutrient budgets have become very negative due to changes in the way growers have fertilized their crops in recent years. That’s according to a new study recently completed by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). The study details the nutrient balance of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) added through commercial fertilizer and manure in 2007 and removed in harvested grain for the average of 2006-2008 on a county-by-county basis.

“Potassium and phosphorus application took big hits last year, and that means there are some very negative nutrient budgets . . . quantity applied minus quantity removed by crops . . . for key crop areas,” says Paul Fixen, senior vice president for Americas Group and director of research at IPNI. “Prior to the 2009 season, much of the Corn Belt was running a P deficit with crop removal in Iowa exceeding use by 20 to 30 percent and in Illinois by 50 to 60 percent. Realize these were the budgets prior to the recent reduction in use.”

The IPNI is a not-for-profit, science-based organization with a focus on agronomic education and research support. The IPNI database compares average soil nutrient application levels (from both commercial fertilizer and manure) to crop removal levels based on crop yield for N, P and K. In many areas nutrient removals exceed application levels. A summary of the study is available at the InfoAg Conference Web Site, and the full report should be available at www.ipni.net later this fall. The Mosaic Company is creating area-specific maps of the information.

Fertility Impacts From Market Fluctations

Traditionally, when fertilizer was an inexpensive input, growers fertilized at or above recommended rates, building the nutrient profile of their soils. In recent years, fluctuating crop prices and high fertilizer prices, coupled with weather that prevented application, resulted in growers cutting back on their fertilizer rates.

With excellent yields the past three to five years, plus lower application rates in 2009, soil nutrient levels may actually be lower than past trends and the IPNI information show.

“Even though crop yields have increased significantly in recent years, many growers have not increased their fertilizer rates. With the higher yields, crops are pulling nutrients from the soil’s nutrient bank and mining the soils,” explains Dan Froehlich, director of agronomy for The Mosaic Company.

“In 2009 some growers applied 35 to 40 percent less potassium and cut phosphorus by 15 to 20 percent. The report shows many areas were at or below the critical level for these key nutrients even before the fertilizer cut backs of 2009,” Froehlich continues.

Maintaining fertility levels is critical for maintaining yields. For example, a field testing 10 ppm for P that does not receive phosphorus fertilizer would be expected to produce corn yields 20 percent lower than a field with soil P levels at the critical 20 ppm level.

“To maintain crop yields and farm profitability, progressive growers and retailers will definitely want to soil test immediately after harvest to get a true picture of the soil nutrient levels within each field,” he adds.

Now is a good time for growers to talk with their retailer to get on the schedule for post-harvest soil testing. A soil test is an important investment in the production decision process because it allows comparison of the soil nutrients available to what the crop needs to reach the desired yield goal and yield potential. And it’s important to use this information to properly balance all needed nutrients, not just for applying nitrogen.

“Growers often attempt to rely on nitrogen only. They forget potassium interacts with essential plant food nutrients and ‘regulates’ many essential plant processes,” says Froehlich. “Without K, plants can’t optimize uptake of available N. So, the money growers spend on N may be wasted.”

For example, research at Ohio State demonstrated that corn yields were reduced by 44 bushels/acre when high levels of N were used on fields with inadequate K levels. At $3.25 corn, the foregone bushels would cost the grower $143 per acre.

Likewise, adequate P is necessary for higher yields and improved grain quality because P also improves the plants’ ability to use all available nutrients. Without adding P fertilizers to balance nutrition, plant uptake of N is reduced. Again, nitrate levels in the soil increase, and some of the grower’s investment in N is lost.

“We encourage growers to visit with their local fertilizer retailer soon to get a handle on the nutrient balance situation in their area and to begin planning for the nutrient needs of the 2010 crop,” Froehlich concludes. “With a clear picture of the situation on their own farm, they can develop a fertility plan for 2010 that will meet the crop nutrient needs and optimize their production and profitability.”

For more information about proper crop nutrition, soil testing and the importance of balanced soil fertility, visit www.Back-to-Basics.net.

Leave a Reply

Grower Services & Solutions Stories
AmericasMFA Precision Head Talks Precision Ag, Cover Crops at 2018 4R Summit
June 18, 2018
Although implicit to anyone that spends a good chunk of their career in agriculture, the link between advanced precision technology Read More
David-Perry-featured-image
AmericasIndigo Touts ‘New Approach to Agricultural R&D’
June 13, 2018
Indigo, the Boston-based microbial crop technology startup that has raised more than $400 million, announced it is expanding its research Read More
Parkland College Student Training
AmericasBushel Garners $7 Million Private Investment Round
May 10, 2018
Bushel today announced a $7 million private investment round to accelerate its patent-pending digital platform for the grain industry. The Read More
Agronomist with iPad
Decision Support SoftwareAg Tech Mobile Tools: Talkin’ Climate’s New Seed Scripting Platform
May 7, 2018
It’s reportedly been a busy spring down at The Climate Corporation offices in Creve Coeur, MO, a tony bedroom community Read More
Trending Articles
JDandPessl
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportunities
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
Matt-Waits-featured
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key to Transforming Global Agriculture
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
InfoAg ConferenceThe InfoAg Conference Offers Early Bird Registration Discount
May 24, 2018
Since 1995, The InfoAg Conference has been the premier event for discussion and advancement of precision agriculture. The event, organized Read More
Ernie-Chappell-Screenshot
EventsEFC Systems Sponsorship Demonstrates Commitment to Continuing Education for Retail Dealerships
May 16, 2018
Enterprise software manufacturer EFC Systems, scholarship sponsor of the inaugural PrecisionAg® Professional Accelerator professional development conference this June in Brookings, Read More
EventsMeister Media Debuts Growing Innovations
May 10, 2018
As a service provider, you and your grower customers probably can agree on this much: While innovation abounds in agriculture, Read More
UCANR_booth_Food_IT_forum
EventsForum Calling All Innovators of Agriculture Technology
May 2, 2018
The challenges that come with feeding the world continue to grow. Luckily, so do advances in information technology that are Read More
Latest News
dropcopter
DronesNew York Apple Orchard Claims World First in Pollinatio…
June 18, 2018
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard in LaFayette, NY, is the first orchard in the world to use drones to pollinate Read More
Farmer with iPad
Decision Support SoftwareAgrian Enhances Field Scouting App
June 18, 2018
Agrian has added a new feature to its robust field scouting app – a pest trap counting solution. The new Read More
AmericasMFA Precision Head Talks Precision Ag, Cover Crops at 2…
June 18, 2018
Although implicit to anyone that spends a good chunk of their career in agriculture, the link between advanced precision technology Read More
Iron Man
UncategorizedAgFunder News: Forget Self-Driving Tractors; Agricultur…
June 18, 2018
Marvel’s Iron Man suit might seem an unlikely source of inspiration for growers, writes Joseph Byrum on AgFunderNews.com. Once the Read More
Soil-Corn-plants-field
Data ManagementRemote Soil-Sensed Management Zones Help Increase Crop …
June 18, 2018
Accurate prescription maps are essential for effective variable rate technology (VRT) fertilizer application. Grid soil sampling is frequently used to Read More
JDandPessl
Sensors/IoTJohn Deere, Pessl Instruments Team Up to Create Opportu…
June 18, 2018
John Deere is best known for its line of tractors, combines, sprayers, and implements. However, in an effort to help Read More
computer-in-field
Business Management3 Questions to Ask When Looking for Your First Job in P…
June 18, 2018
Let me begin this column by extending my congratulations to all of my fellow students who have just graduated – Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversStine Seed Plunks Down $5 Million on Smart Ag’s D…
June 14, 2018
Stine Seed Farm has invested $5 million in Smart Ag Inc., an Iowa technology firm that has developed a full Read More
David-Perry-featured-image
AmericasIndigo Touts ‘New Approach to Agricultural R&…
June 13, 2018
Indigo, the Boston-based microbial crop technology startup that has raised more than $400 million, announced it is expanding its research Read More
Ag Drone
EventsAgTech Conference of the South Dedicated to Innovation,…
June 12, 2018
Join current and emerging agtech business leaders and investors at the AgTech Conference of the South, a premiere conference dedicated Read More
Munckhof Machinefabriek equipment
EuropeEurope: Precision Farming at Heart of Munckhof Deal
June 11, 2018
One of Europe’s oldest suppliers of machinery used in fruit production, the Dutch firm Munckhof Machinefabriek, has been purchased by Read More
Australian-Farmers
Australia/New ZealandCrunching the Ag-Tech Numbers Saves Time for Australian…
June 5, 2018
Time management is key on the Walker family’s farm, where a mix between cropping, commercial sheep and two studs means Read More
Drone-exhbitor-at-Drone-Show
AmericasDroneShow Highlights UAV Technology in Latin America
June 4, 2018
Editor’s note: The DroneShow Latin America is an annual trade fair hosted by MundoGEO, a media and communications company founded Read More
Imagery/SensingImagery in Agriculture: Time for a Reality Check
June 4, 2018
Where do I begin….I’ve been dealing with imagery in agriculture since I was 10 when my dad started Satshot. At Read More
AmericasNAAA Issues Drone Pilot Reminder: Watch Out For Aerial …
May 31, 2018
With more than 1 million UAVs registered with the FAA, it is vitally important for UAV operators to be aware Read More
Matt-Waits-featured
Decision Support SoftwareSST’s Matt Waits: Innovative Data Solutions Key t…
May 31, 2018
Proagrica, part of RELX Group, earlier this year acquired U.S.-based precision agriculture solutions company, SST Software, in a move set Read More
CROO Robotics’ automated strawberry harvester
Specialty CropsGrowingProduce.com: Fruit Growers, It’s Time to Mechani…
May 30, 2018
If you’re into conspiracies, you might be interested to know that I have stumbled onto a doozy. And it looks Read More
Service ProvidersDeere Launches Bale Mobile App with Hay and Forage Yiel…
May 30, 2018
John Deere introduces its Bale Mobile app to help hay and forage producers get detailed information, improve efficiency, identify bale Read More