How much fertilizer do we place where and when? Spring is upon us and seeding is around the corner. Every year your crop planner gets asked this question in one form or another, Can you improve our fertilizer logistics? To answer this question, we need to get to the 4R’s of fertilizer: right rate, right reason, right amount and right placement.
Different crops have different fertilizer needs. For example canola needs a lot more nitrogen than flax does. They also have different tolerances to seed placed fertilizer. Generally, the bigger the seed the better tolerance to seed placed fertilizer. For instance, barley has a different tolerance than timothy seed and soya beans are hyper sensitive to seed placed fertilizer. Salt indexes, aka fertilizer burn, also vary among fertilizers. Furthermore, fertilizers are highly hygroscopic, meaning it attracts soil moisture. The fertilizer competes for water with the seed. Small seedlings cannot handle the “competition” for the water.
Different fertilizers behave differently in or on the soil. Such as urea nitrogen, it volatilizes and ammonium sulfate does not (or very little). There are options available to mitigate nitrogen loss. Agrotain™ is a product that can minimize these nitrogen losses. The cost depends on the amount of product you put on. Generally, Agrotain™ gives you 10 days coverage under broadcast conditions. Incidentally it is also a neat product for those that are single shooting!
There are innumerable options on product combinations.
One of the tough calls we make every year is, how much of a pain will it be filling up the seed drill? Most folks do not have sufficient humor in filling up the seed drill every 5 minutes. However, as difficult as it may seem that we make things, we do it with the best results in mind. A properly seeded crop is half grown!
We make very tough calls on every field, how much to broadcast, how much to seed place, how much to sideband, how much to fertigate etc.
Bear with us, if we ask for difficult or hard strategies we do it for a reason. On the other hand if some things cannot be done due to technological limitations, tell us. The customer is always right and we will work hard to make it work for all.
Confusing? Now you know why crop consultants don’t have much hair, they pull it out during crop planning season!
Till next time!