Micronutrients: Maximizing Yields

Wolf Trax Iron DDP-coated fertilizer
Wolf Trax Iron DDP-coated fertilizer

With the rainy start to the 2013 growing season basically a complete polar opposite of the moisture-challenged conditions producers faced last season, this summer has helped reveal to many growers the importance of micronutrient products to yield.

“This year’s trying spring weather showed the benefits of early nutrient availability and getting the crop off to a good start,� says Kerry Green, managing director, Wolf Trax. “Producers are seeing the importance of a balanced nutrition program as genetics push yields and nutrient demand higher, and the limiting factor on many high-producing varieties is often not a macronutrient, but a micronutrient. Areas that may have had borderline nutrient deficiency are now requiring additional nutrients to meet maximum production targets.�

The Mosaic Co. also witnessed increased grower awareness of micronutrient benefits, according to Dr. Kyle Freeman, manager of new product development. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in both awareness and adoption of micronutrients among growers looking to support high-yield systems over the past several years. Micronutrients act to support the primary crop nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — for instance, we know that zinc improves phosphorus uptake, so the importance of incorporating micronutrients as part of a balanced fertility program is becoming more important.�

However, Jerry Stoller, President, Stoller Enterprises, Inc., saw some initial pushback from the market in the form of growers that had a hard time getting into fields at planting time due to the wet spring.

“This planting season was very rushed, and some farmers did not want to take the time and make the effort to add micronutrients to the starter fertilizer and in so doing, the rate of soil-applied micronutrients was again lower than expectations,� says Stoller. “However, the recovery of corn growth and continued favorable weather allowed farmers to come back and foliar apply micronutrients in order to achieve higher potential yields.�

Turn-Key Solutions

Just as the big ag equipment manufacturers are increasingly integrating technologies once considered after-market add-ons as now-standard equipment, today’s most popular micronutrient formulations are often ones that feature multiple technologies in a single package.

“All of our products did well this year when you look at it from a demand standpoint, says Wesley Haun, research agronomist, H.J. Baker Bros. & Tiger-Sul Products. “Generally speaking, we saw increases in sales for our sulfur with iron, sulfur with manganese and sulfur with zinc, and then we can make up various crop mixes with all four of those micronutrients — and those mixes were popular as well.�

Blended products have also been selling steadily throughout the Western Lake Erie basin area, according to Rodney Gilliland, micronutrient sales and marketing manager, Plant Nutrient Group, The Andersons.

“We have a complete line of liquid EDTA Chelated Solutions that blend with any and all tank mixes that are utilized in the market today,� says Gilliland. “We have a line of products that we call ‘Micro Mark’, which are more specialized for geography or a certain product mix, and we’ve got our Triple Crown, which is a three-way zinc that mixes really well with 10-34-0, and that was specifically designed to meet the needs of today’s corn crops planted at high populations. These are all products that we’ve manufactured to try to create different blends of micros with different carriers.�

At Minneapolis, MN-based Winfield Solutions, one of several of the company’s proprietary products, MAX-IN, reportedly caught the attention of grower-customers, according to Josh Krenz, director of plant nutrition. “MAX-IN is our patented technology that allows nutrients to stay wet on the leaf surface longer, and it also has technology that helps penetrate the nutrient through the leaf. In doing that, we have about 12 different micronutrient products that go with that MAX-IN technology, so we have a large variety of products that can be used in that system.�

Winfield’s current offering in the Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) sub-category, Ascend, is another technology that is performing well.

“Over the last four years there have been 1300 replicated trials over four different geographies that show that Ascend, when used in-furrow at the start of the year with zinc, provides a significant five bushel yield advantage and creates consistent emergence, as well as a larger below ground root system,� says Krenz.

“Our business continues to grow with our original DDP Nutrients (zinc, boron, manganese, copper and iron), but one product we are very excited about is Magnesium DDP,� adds Wolf Trax’s Green. “We launched Magnesium DDP in a limited manner last year and had very good response in both sales and performance, so we anticipate that Magnesium DDP will be a very solid product for us in the coming years.

“Secondly, PROTINUS, our seed nutrition product, is gaining traction in several of the seed variety segments, and we expect to see continued growth there as well,� he continues. “Also, there is an increased interest in program approaches to micronutrients, and we have several initiatives under way in this area. The programs include using our PROTINUS as a seed treatment, utilizing the EvenCoat Technology of our DDP Nutrients in soil applications and adding either our DDP Nutrients or one of our upcoming products to a foliar application.�

Says The Mosaic Co.’s Dr. Freeman: “As growers continue to look for an edge and realize the importance of micronutrients, products like MicroEssentials can help growers achieve balanced crop nutrition, resulting in higher-yields. The innovation behind MicroEssentials, for example, ensures uniform distribution across every acre by combining four vital nutrients — two of which are macronutrients — into one nutritionally balanced granule. Application rates of micronutrients are very small compared to the macronutrients like N, P and K, and therefore it is critical that these small rates of micronutrients are applied uniformly across the field ensuring each plant has adequate access.�

Commodity Prices vs. Education

Several of the sources for this feature agreed that, while good weather and favorable commodity prices are certainly a driver of micronutrient product adoption, there are other factors that directly affect the rate at which growers choose to pick up these products.

“I would say that, while corn prices may fluctuate, deficiencies in the soil don’t,� says Winfield’s Krenz. “When commodity prices falter, then it becomes in our opinion even more important to protect ROI and yield by deploying a micronutrient regimen.�

The Anderson’s Gilliland agrees. “Prevention is always better than cure,� he says. “We’re optimistic that, as grain and nutrition prices fluctuate, there’s still going to be a real need in making sure the micronutrient is not the weakest link in the yield chain.�

Educating growers is a big part of keeping the micronutrient supply chain robust, and Stoller Enterprise’s Jerry Stoller sees a glaring need for more enlightenment in the industry.

“Most micronutrient sales are made from research that has been conducted many years ago, and in the minds of many growers this research is outdated,� he says. “The micronutrient industry also lacks basic science, as none of the company’s marketing micronutrients have a research staff that can collect unique data and give reasons how the micronutrients affect the physiological chemistry of the plant cells. The micronutrient industry has been based on the “show and tell� method of selling, and this is why the market is growing so slowly.

“When the micronutrient industry has the appropriate scientific information in order to fulfill the farmer’s needs, micronutrients will rapidly increase in sales and usage.�

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Micronutrients: Maximizing Yields

Micronutrients Stories

Dry fertilizer Blend
MicronutrientsMicros 2016: Target Those Nutrients
February 2, 2016
Daniel Kaiser, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Extension Soil Fertility Specialist, has headed up quite a few micronutrient yield Read More
Paul Reising Compass Minerals
MicronutrientsQ&A With Compass Minerals’ Paul Reising
January 6, 2016
Paul Reising has worked in the agriculture and crop nutrition industry for more than 25 years. He comes to Compass Read More
MicronutrientsBoron’s Importance In Plant Development And Growth
December 30, 2015
One of the micronutrients that is essential for crop health also happens to be one of the most deficient in Read More
MicronutrientsSoil Conditions And The Need For Zinc Fertilizer
December 16, 2015
Zinc (Zn) is an essential nutrient required in some fertilizer programs for crop production. While some soils are capable of 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