Agro-Culture Field Day: Research-Based Proof Of Performance

Initially launched in 1994 as a 30-acre research plot, St. Johns, MI-based manufacturer Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s (ACLF) North Central Research Station (NCRS) has, much like the company itself, experienced explosive growth over the past 15 plus years. Today, the facility features a healthy 631 tillable acres, the vast majority of which are irrigated. Besides housing a portion of the company’s administrative offices, the property consists of 11 research plots of differing soil types and soil nutrient levels that collectively make up the NCRS.

Here, traditional Midwestern row crops such as corn, soybeans and winter wheat are grown alongside an array of specialty crops such as sugarbeets, navy beans, pumpkins and strawberries, all in the name of demonstrating the benefits of Agro-Culture’s full line of liquid fertilizer and micronutrient management products.

Plenty Of Research

“Agro-Culture Liquid does a lot of research and training here in fertilizer efficiency, and we’re able to take that information and apply that to our customers’ farms and fields to give them maximum response for the dollars they spend,” says Cory Schurman, Agro-Culture senior agronomy manager during one of the company’s 2012 Field Day tours. “All of this research and hands-on training is the key to applying what we learn to growers’ fields and giving them answers.”

Getting growers to switch fertility programs is a significant challenge for even the most polished sales professional. According to Schurman, one of the first questions a prospective grower-customer will ask the company is simply “Why? — Why should I switch what I’ve been doing for years and go with you guys?”

For ACLF, the first step in addressing those concerns is showing growers what sets the company apart from competing products and manufacturers. One such factor, according to the company, is the lower salt-index of ACLF products, which allows for decreased volatility and nitrogen (N) leeching.

“Salt Indexes are a measurement where you measure the effects of that material on plant tissue, both above and below ground,” says Schurman. “When we have lower salt indexes, we can get those nutrients into that plant tissue with no negative side effects, no negative burns, so you can get a lot better effectiveness, or yield reaction, from those nutrients that are applied. So this is a key component in the quality and usability and the uptake of nutrients.”

Varied Product Offerings

Another defining characteristic of ACLF is the vast array of fertility products they can offer. From Pro-Germinator, a dual-form phosphate fertilizer with multi-form N, to eNhance, a nitrogen supplement formulated to produce greater N availability and reduce input costs, the company pledges “effective, environmentally-responsible crop nutrition” through its diverse product.

Normally the term “low rate” can carry with it a negative connotation. Not so in the world of crop fertility, where growers and crop consultants are constantly chasing the Holy Grail of more yield with less inputs.

Agro-Culture’s grower-customers are no different, which is precisely why the company is so bent on initiating long-term research trials to find the most efficient fertility programs for their growers across a wide variety of crops.

One such trial is Agro-Culture’s “It’s Nutrients, Not Numbers!” study, otherwise known as the “Corn Fertility For A Permanent Plot Rotation Fertilizer Program Comparison.” A long-term research program in just its second year, the aim of the study is “to determine the long-term effects of the ‘low rate’ approach of Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers high usability nutrition in comparison to higher rates with conventional fertilizers.” The study initially established a yield goal of 180 bushels per acre (bu/A) based on soil samples recommending a minimum N rate of 175 pounds per area.

The study’s findings back Agro-Cul­ture’s claims, with the N-only (47 gallons of 28% N + eNhance) regimen producing the lowest yield, yet still surpassing yield goals at 195.5 bu/A. A conventional dry fertilizer program (100 pounds 0-0-60 + 65 pounds 18-46-0 + 8 pounds zinc + 365 pounds urea) was next in line at 202.4 bu/A, while the most dramatic yield increases came from deploying the full ACLF portfolio of products (3 gallons Pro-Germ. + 5 gallons Sure-K + 2 quarts Micro 500 [in-furrow]+ 47 gallons 28% + eNhance [sidedress]), which resulted in a yield of 214 bu/A.

So despite applying 40% less primary nutrients per acre, the Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers treatment had the highest yield response, significantly higher than that of the N only and the Conventional Dry treatment.

Being a research-based operation with nine full-time researchers on staff, after proving the effectiveness of reduced application rates of ACLF products in corn, the company wondered what would happen to yield if they also lowered the rates of the conventional fertilizers to match that of the recommended rates of ACLF products? Were they simply lucky in finding a significant yield increase in the first study or did the ACLF products truly increase yields? As with the previous study’s differing rates of application, the numbers show that the ACLF program significantly out-yielded the conventional program (202.9 bu/A conventional vs. 214 bu/A liquid), indicating higher efficiency via the ACLF nutrition.

“Our research shows that using nutrients in a compilation — where we can get the best uptake and the best balance to give us the biggest response — is a key part of pushing yields higher and giving growers the results they’re looking for,” says Schurman.

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

FertilizerPhosphorus: Is Band Or Broadcast Application The Better Method?
February 3, 2016
Is band or broadcast application the better method when it comes to phosphorus? The answer to this question depends mostly Read More
Potash storage at Growmark
FertilizerThe Phosphate And Potash Outlook For 2016
February 2, 2016
Like other commodities, prices of the leading plant nutrient products dropped sharply in 2015. At this writing, the price of Read More
Young Corn Plants
FertilizerNutrient Considerations For Low Corn Prices
February 2, 2016
Corn prices are low and many producers are asking tough questions about their nutrient management programs. Here are some suggestions Read More
Granular urea from CF Industries urea plant in Donaldsonville, LA
FertilizerWhat’s In Store For Nitrogen In 2016
February 2, 2016
Supply is the overriding theme for the North American 2016 nitrogen outlook. In the last 12 months, global factors have Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop Protection Products in storage
Crop InputsNewsweek: World Is ‘Awash In Glyphosate’
February 11, 2016
The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become Read More
Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
AdjuvantsUniversity of Illinois Confirms Adjuvant’s Perfor…
February 11, 2016
An independent University of Illinois study has shown that WETCIT adjuvant, now with TransPhloem technology, provides greater herbicide uptake and Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta’s Acuron Flexi Receives EPA Approval
February 11, 2016
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now Read More
EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT…
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More