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

FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute: New President, Renewed Energy
February 3, 2014
Chris Jahn relishes the opportunity to lead the organization through the challenging times ahead. Read More
FertilizerA New Cycle For Fertilizer Demand
January 2, 2014
Changes in the corn market could have a major impact on the crop nutrients sector in 2014, say experts. Read More
FertilizerOSHA Hammers West Fertilizer With Over $100K In Fines For April Explosion
October 10, 2013
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the parent company of the West Fertilizer plant, Adair Grain Inc., $118,300 for 24 violations. Read More
FertilizerTFI Appeals Chesapeake Bay TMDL Ruling
October 10, 2013
The Fertilizer Institute joined a coalition appealing a U.S. District Court ruling on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nitrogen and phosphorus. Read More

Trending Articles

Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More

Latest News

Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTranform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 100…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Resumes Production At Oklahoma Nitrogen C…
July 17, 2014
The company had shut down production at the Woodward, OK, facility in April to address an issue in one of the site’s boilers. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis To Relocate Agribusiness Division To Denve…
July 16, 2014
The move Eastward will allow Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness Division to be more accessible to relevant geographies and is expected to enhance communication and collaboration among the division’s nearly 3,000 employees. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybe…
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Drive To Thrive 10 Finalists Announced
July 15, 2014
Finalists are chosen based on the quality of their essays and photos depicting what makes them thrive. Read More