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 Blend of Micronutrients
Crop InputsMicronutrients 2015: Making Hay In A Down Market
September 5, 2015
Going into 2015, downward trending commodity prices were identified as a possible threat to sales revenues of micronutrient fertilizer products, Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulation For Crops
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsWinField: Here’s What We’re Seeing So Far This Season
June 25, 2015
One of the most important things you can do throughout the season to help increase yield potential is to ensure Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Life Sciences Invests In People, Agricultural Technology
June 22, 2015
In mid-February, the USDA released its new 10-year agriculture projections. While the numbers are new, the theme was consistent. The Read More
Top 100 Articles
Southern States Co-op Storefront
CropLife 100Southern States: Always Ag Authentic
October 1, 2015
If people were to judge a book by its cover when visiting Southern States Cooperative’s (SSC) Richmond, VA, corporate headquarters, Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Latest News
Corn Stover Stubble
Crop InputsNew Microbial Product Unlocks Nutrients, Reduces Costly…
October 6, 2015
Trash, stover, residue — regardless of the term, postharvest debris is increasing and causing more frustration and detriment to overall soil Read More
Precision AgPurdue Releases 2015 Precision Ag Services Dealership S…
October 5, 2015
In the spring of 2015, CropLife magazine and the Departments of Agricultural Economics and Agronomy at Purdue University conducted the Read More
Monsanto Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto And Syngenta: Stonewall Street
October 5, 2015
Recently, I was taking part in an industry-related golf tournament and happened to find a lost golf ball sporting a Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
StewardshipGar Tootelian, Inc.: Making A Difference In ‘The Valle…
October 5, 2015
For the Environmental Respect Awards program, sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection with assistance from CropLife® and FCI magazines, the Ambassador Read More
Fiberglass Tank Workers at Precision Tank & Equipment
EquipmentPrecision Tank & Equipment: 50 Years Of Growing
October 4, 2015
Looking out onto the production floor of the fiberglass/stainless steel tank manufacturing facility in Ligonier, IN, David Hemming, president/CEO for Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsScience & Strategy Spur Syngenta’s Crop Protection …
October 3, 2015
Developing a crop protection portfolio is a lot of science and a little serendipity. “There are a number of things Read More
Dan Schaefer and Jason Solberg IFCA
StewardshipIllinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association: Tacklin…
October 2, 2015
You’ve got to be doing something right if lots of people keep coming to you for advice. That’s what’s happening Read More
LegislationFall Fertilizer Transportation Could Be At Risk With Po…
October 1, 2015
Failure by Congress to extend the deadline for the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on the railroads could gridlock Read More
Weed ResistancePPO Resistant Pigweed Hits The Mid-South
October 1, 2015
If you’re a soybean grower already entangled in troublesome weed resistance in the state of Arkansas, Mississippi or Tennessee, you Read More
Weed ResistanceManagement Strategies That Worked In 2015
October 1, 2015
For better or worse, throughout many regions of the country 2015 provided the optimal growing season conditions for both crops, Read More
ManagementAn Update On CropLife America’s Meeting & The Outlo…
October 1, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review last week’s CropLife America Annual Meeting and how crop protection companies believe next Read More
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
Weed ResistanceManaging Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: The Importance Of ‘…
October 1, 2015
As the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds has spread, crop protection product suppliers have charged their top researchers with coming up Read More
Adjuvants loading
Weed ResistanceAdjuvants Trending Up For Fighting Weed Resistance
October 1, 2015
Gone with the wind are the days when adding an adjuvant to the spray tank was looked at with major Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
Weed Resistance8 Best Management Practices For Spray Drift Control
October 1, 2015
Dr. Robert Wolf, Wolf Consulting & Research, LLC, Mahomet, IL, is one of the leading experts in drift management strategies. Read More
EquipmentUSC Releases New U-BATCH Treater
October 1, 2015
U-BATCH is one of the most versatile batch treaters on the market today, according to USC. Capable of treating most Read More
Southern States Co-op Storefront
CropLife 100Southern States: Always Ag Authentic
October 1, 2015
If people were to judge a book by its cover when visiting Southern States Cooperative’s (SSC) Richmond, VA, corporate headquarters, Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Names New Vice Presidents For P…
September 30, 2015
As farmers seek advanced, innovative ways to keep their operations profitable and efficient, companies must rise to the challenge to Read More
Tim Glenn, Dupont Crop Protection
Crop InputsDuPont Crop Protection Appoints New President
September 30, 2015
DuPont has named Timothy P. Glenn as president of its Crop Protection business effective October 1, succeeding Rik Miller who Read More