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.”

New Micro Products For ‘14

Several of the manufacturers featured in this article plan on trotting out new or reformulated micronutrient products in time for the 2014 growing season.

H.J. Baker Bros subsidiary Tiger-Sul Products projects to have its new Boron product, Tiger-Boron 2%, registered in time for 2014, with labeling in all 50 states, and Winfield Solutions has plans to continue expanding its NutriSolutions 360 program.

Additionally, Wolf Trax anticipates introducing a unique zinc product that is specially formulated for foliar and liquid applications within the next 12-18 months, and it is also in the late stages of developing a “very unique” phosphorus product that has many of the same traits as its popular DDP Nutrients, such as EvenCoat Technology and PlantActiv Formulation.

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
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
MicronutrientsReport: Demand For Zinc As Micronutrient In Agriculture Grows
May 12, 2014
Zinc is becoming more important to increasing crop yields as global population and food consumption continue to rise. Read More
Sulfur Deficiency In Corn
Micronutrients3 Key Questions For Sulfur Application
February 3, 2014
Match sulfur supply to corn crop’s needs to maximize yields and fertilizer dollars. Read More
Micronutrients11 Tips For Effective Fall Application Of Gypsum
September 26, 2013
Spreading gypsum – which often occurs in late fall, after harvest – is simple if you follow these basic steps from GYPSOIL. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Latest News
RR2X soybeans surround untreated check (center)
Industry NewsArysta Hires New Midwest Territory Sales Manager
March 5, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently named Jonathan “Jon” Tone as the Territory Sales Manager in the Midwest sales region. Read More
Fertilizer360 Yield Center: Try These 5 Steps To Fine Tune Nitrog…
March 5, 2015
Yield Center 360 advises that an effective nitrogen management plan needs to focus on how much N a particular field and corn crop needs, as well as how to properly manage N throughout the growing season — with adjustments along the way. Read More
Precision AgFarmobile Coming Online In 2015
March 5, 2015
A new startup is looking to make collecting and selling ag data a more rewarding proposition for growers. Read More
Crop InputsCommodity Classic 2015 Sets Attendance High Mark
March 4, 2015
With nearly 8,000 total attendees, the 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show, which took place last week in Phoenix, AZ, shattered previous records for the landmark event, Read More
Young corn plants
FertilizerNew Nitrogen Stabilizer From Simplot Protects Fertilize…
March 4, 2015
By using OmniPierce Technology, Eclipse-N from Simplot Grower Solutions coats and protects more nitrogen, increasing nitrogen efficiency and decreasing loss due to volatilization. Read More
Industry NewsOhio Corn And Wheat Growers Association, Ohio Soybean A…
March 4, 2015
The associations truly appreciate the comprehensive approach and diligent work that the Ohio House of Representatives has dedicated to addressing water quality and House Bill 61. Read More
Mahindra Implement
Industry NewsMahindra USA Aligns With Paladin Attachment For Impleme…
March 4, 2015
Mahindra USA will begin utilizing Paladin Attachments as its implement supplier in April 2015. Read More
Crop InputsValent BioSciences Acquires Mycorrhizal Applications
March 4, 2015
The acquisition adds another strategic platform to VBC’s rapidly expanding global biorational business, providing additional tools for the Biorational Window platform being developed with its parent, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation - Plant Nutrient on the Farm Station
Industry NewsNutrients For Life Foundation Launches New Station Prog…
March 4, 2015
This ready-to-implement station provides an interactive opportunity for farms to showcase crop nutrients’ important role in growing healthy crops. Read More
Adjuvants loading
AdjuvantsAdjuvants Continue Upward Trend
March 4, 2015
A dizzying array of developments in crop protection technologies promise to make specialty adjuvants a crucial piece of the puzzle going forward. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Me…
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
10 Tips for Spring Planter Preparation
Equipment10 Tips For Spring Planter Preparation
March 3, 2015
Kinze Manufacturing offers advice on how to ensure your planter is ready before you hit the field. Read More
Industry NewsOABA 2015 LAUNCH Program Recognizes 20 New Graduates
March 3, 2015
Twenty Ohio agribusiness leaders are being recognized as the latest graduates of Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s LAUNCH program. Read More
EquipmentNew AGCO Website Helps Customers Shop For Certified Pre…
March 3, 2015
RoGator sprayers are among the wide range of CPO equipment available through AGCO's site. Read More
Enlist spray Demo
HerbicidesGuiding New Herbicide Systems’ Launches
March 3, 2015
Under careful watch, the new 2,4-D- and dicamba-tolerant crops hit more acres this season. Read More
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More
Industry NewsHighway Equipment Appoints New Director Of Business Dev…
March 2, 2015
Cory Venable, who joined Highway Equipment Company (HECO) in 2013 as OEM Account Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
Eric SfiligojWorkforce Worries
March 2, 2015
Finding good employees almost always ranks as the No. 1 or No. 2 problem for ag retailers in our annual CropLife 100 survey. Read More