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
Farmer with iPad
Decision Support SoftwareClimate Adds New Features, Restructures FieldView Pricing
August 30, 2017
The Climate Corp. announced at Farm Progress Show the addition of new features and data connectivity enhancements for the 2018 Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsFarmobile Launches Farmobile Pro Tier with Universal File Transfer
August 28, 2017
Farmobile today announced the launch of a new subscription service, Farmobile Pro. Farmobile Pro includes significant technology advancements including the Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsSyngenta, Premier Crop Systems Partner to Offer ROI Analysis Maps
August 28, 2017
Syngenta and Premier Crop Systems announce a commercial partnership to bring growers customized, variable-cost-per-bushel analysis maps — the first of Read More
Data ManagementBASF, Proagrica to Jointly Develop Farm Management System Interface
August 24, 2017
BASF and Proagrica have signed a development and operation agreement to bring one of the first farm management system interfaces Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment for a More Sustainable Future
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
BASF Maglis grower retailer tablet
Data ManagementWhat Will Happen to My Data? Understanding Your Rights in Precision Agriculture
September 12, 2017
The use of precision agriculture-based decision making to determine fertilizer rates and hybrid types and planting rates is becoming more Read More
Robotics/Labor SaversBlue River, Deere Deal Will Accelerate Farm Robot Innovation
September 11, 2017
No, Blue River Co-founder and CEO Jorge Heraud has not been deposed — Gaddafi-style — by big, bad corporate overlord Read More
Farming at Sunset
Business ManagementAgtech Issues: The Shiny Object Syndrome
September 6, 2017
Do you remember those cartoons where someone lures someone else by placing a piece of candy, small amount of money, Read More
AgQuip overview
Australia/New ZealandAgQuip 2017 Displays New Ag Technology in Australia
August 28, 2017
The annual AgQuip field days took place in Gunnedah, NSW on August 22-24. Being the largest agricultural field days in Read More
Latest News
Australian Harvest
Australia/New ZealandAustralia: Data Deal to Make Digital Information More A…
September 25, 2017
The announcement of a three-year collaboration between one of Australia’s most well-known agriculture technology providers, Precision Agriculture, and Federation University Read More
Mahindra-Photo-Money-Control
AsiaDrones for Soil Mapping? Mahindra Says Why Not
September 25, 2017
The Mumbai-based company is in talks with the Indian government seeking approval to make drones a part of farming methods, Read More
deepfield-robotics-bonirob
Robotics/Labor SaversDeepfield Robotics to Showcase Precision Agriculture Te…
September 22, 2017
Deepfield Robotics is preparing to showcase its robotics and automation technologies for the agriculture market at the Agrilevante event, in Read More
Kray Drone Application
DronesCrop Spraying Drone Manufacturer Kray Technologies Gets…
September 22, 2017
Chernovetskyi Investment Group (CIG) has reached an agreement on investment into Kray Technologies company, which manufactures Kray Protection industrial robotic Read More
Imagery/SensingPlanet Announces New Hi-Res Imagery Products
September 21, 2017
Since our acquisition of Terra Bella, and the SkySat constellation of seven satellites, we’ve been focused on making this high-resolution Read More
Systems ManagementBayer Dismisses Antitrust Concerns about Digital Farmin…
September 20, 2017
Bayer said it was unable to propose the sale of any digital farming assets to allay EU concerns about its Read More
Farmer with iPad
Australia/New ZealandAgrian Expands into Australia
September 20, 2017
In line with a familiar growth trajectory, Agrian Inc. is moving into Australia with a physical support and sales presence Read More
Robotics Specialty Crops
EventsPrecision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
September 20, 2017
When John Deere acquired Blue River Technologies (BRT) recently, BRT’s See & Spray technology received plenty of play. Yet many Read More
Decision Support SoftwareSyngenta Helps Lead Efforts for Farm Management Softwar…
September 19, 2017
Ag data from tractors, combines, planters, and other farm machinery present a huge opportunity for growers to manage their operations Read More
Petra-Andren-Cicada-Innovations
Australia/New ZealandGrowLab’s Rocket Fuel for AgTech in Australia
September 19, 2017
Despite its superpower status as a producer and exporter of agricultural goods and services, up until now Australia has had Read More
CropIn-Team-Photo-credit-BW-Disrupt
AsiaCropIn Aims to be a Global Leader in AgTech Sector
September 19, 2017
Krishna Kumar created AgTech startup, CropIn Technology in 2010, along with co-founders Kunal Prasad and Chittranjan Jena. The trio went Read More
China-Beidou-Navigation-Satellite-System
AsiaChina’s Navigation System Gets Powerful Chip to I…
September 18, 2017
A new powerful chip technology has been introduced in China’s national satellite navigation system to provide high-precision positioning, according to Read More
Tablet Grower
Industry NewsFieldReveal Names Hesse New CEO
September 18, 2017
Matt Hesse has been selected as the Chief Executive Officer of FieldReveal, a newly launched joint venture formed to deliver Read More
John-Deere-labs
Tools & Smart EquipmentHow John Deere’s New AI Lab Is Designing Farm Equipment…
September 15, 2017
On a block in San Francisco’s SoMa district, near LinkedIn’s headquarters and dozens of startups, a 180-year-old company best-known for Read More
Wheat sunrise
Australia/New ZealandSparkLabs Group Launches an Agricultural Tech Accelerat…
September 15, 2017
SparkLabs Group, which claims to be the largest startup accelerator group in Asia, is stepping into agricultural tech with a Read More
Sensors/IoTCollaboration Leverages Internet of Things, Sensors in …
September 15, 2017
The vision of having license-free community sensor networks for agricultural users has made a giant leap closer to reality. A Read More
Young Corn Field
Data ManagementPurdue Online Tool to Help Farmers Make Precision Decis…
September 14, 2017
An innovative online tool developed by a Purdue University engineering professor will allow farmers to process data collected from their Read More
forbes-agtech-summit
Precision IrrigationImproving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
September 13, 2017
I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and Read More