Feed Me

Corn rootworm-resistant hybrids became available to growers in 2003. Favorable yields and reduced need for insecticides led growers to flock to the technology. In 2010, USDA estimates 63% of corn acres across the U.S. were planted to hybrids offering some type of insect resistance — corn rootworm resistance, corn borer resistance or both.

However, little is known about the nutrition needed to optimize yields of hybrids with the rootworm-resistant gene. That’s why researchers at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with The Mosaic Co. compared the nutritional needs of rootworm-resistant corn hybrids to their non-resistant counterparts.

Protected from rootworm feeding, these hybrids develop more intact roots and greater root mass than their non-resistant cousins.

“We expected the rootworm-resistant hybrids would have higher nutrient uptake than their conventional counterparts,” says Fred Below, Ph.D., professor of Plant Physiology, University of Illinois.

“Results of our initial trials show that the per acre removal rates of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, sulfur, zinc) are from 14% to 27% greater for hybrids with the rootworm-resistant gene, which is significant,” says Below. “In fact, both the yield and the concentration of nutrients in the grain were higher for the transgenic hybrids.”

“These findings would suggest that some nutrient response curves we are using today to formulate fertility recommendations may not be valid for today’s modern genetics,” explains Dan Froehlich, Ph.D., agronomist with Mosaic.

Impact On Nutrient Recommendations

What does information like this mean as agronomists work with growers to maximize yields from new technologies such as corn-rootworm resistance? To most, the study’s findings make sense. However, selling growers on the concept varies.

“From an agronomic standpoint, the findings make sense,” says Scott Dettmann, vice president of agronomy with Ag Partners in Albert City, IA, who has read about the findings, but not seen the research data. “The assumption is you’re working with a better corn hybrid with a more massive root structure.

“It is going to be healthier. It is going to yield more, and as a result, it is going to remove more nutrients from the soil,” Dettmann relates.

Ag Partners employs a progressive nutrient-management philosophy, so Dettmann doesn’t anticipate making wholesale changes based on research such as this.

“We evaluate research findings for what they’re worth. To me, it doesn’t matter how the plant produces the additional yield. In any case, the more yield you pull off an acre, the more nutrients required to produce that yield. You’re going to have to replace those nutrients in the soil by applying fertilizer,” he says.

The Ag Partners program encourages soil sampling every four years, and more than 90% of soil tests are completed on a 2.5-acre-grid basis. Nutrient recommendations are then based on the soil test levels, crop removal, soil type and increasing yield goals.

Dettmann believes steadily increasing production levels in his northwest Iowa trade area have helped put Ag Partners ahead of the curve on nutrient recommendations and in helping growers understand the need for more and better crop nutrition programs. Most customers in his area would be disappointed with yields below 200 bushels per acre.

“When yield averages were at 160 bushels per acre, we were preparing nutrient recommendations for 180 and when they got to 180, we were pushing for 200 bushels per acre. Our customers realize the importance of crop nutrition as yields increase year after year,” he relates. In the Ag Partners’ program, increasing levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash are givens, while more and more attention is being paid to the need for micronutrients such as zinc and sulfur.

Greater Yield Potential

Greg Nelson, sales agronomist and chemical department manager for Larsen Coop in New London, WI, has seen high adoption of insect-resistant technology among his customers in east central Wisconsin. Nelson estimates 85% to 90% of customers plant some rootworm-resistant hybrids, and as many as 30% of customers plant the maximum acreage allowed while still complying with insect resistance management (IRM) requirements.

While he also agrees the University of Illinois research makes sense, he believes the message is challenging to deliver because of his position selling fertilizer.

“I agree if you are fertilizing for 200 bushels per acre and a corn rootworm-resistant hybrid has the potential to reach 240 bushels per acre, there obviously is a need for more nutrition that will either be drawn from the soil or required as additional fertilizer,” Nelson says. “Our customers usually want to hear this type of message from someone besides me, because I’m the one trying to sell them fertilizer. As the research becomes more widely recognized and recommendations are developed based on this information, it will be easier to convince growers to increase their nutrition programs.”

To convince skeptical customers to change their fertility programs, Nelson has often turned to on-farm side-by-side trials. He also is working to increase the number of growers who are soil testing on 2.5-acre grids and as a result applying nutrients on a variable-rate basis.

“Our soils are fairly variable and with grid-based soil test levels and yield maps we can really dial it in so we’re not wasting fertilizer on a sandy knoll or low area of the field with low production ability,” Nelson explains.

Fertility Decisions Based On Economics

Moss Fertilizer agronomist Nick Musser recognizes the potential corn-rootworm resistant hybrids have for increased nutritional needs, but in his area, he believes economics are driving the fertilizer-application decision.

“It definitely makes sense that these hybrids will have a much larger root system that will more aggressively uptake nutrients, but here fertilizer decisions are being driven by economics because of the uncertainty in the market on where the price of corn and soybeans will be for the 2011 crop,” explains Musser. “This uncertainty, plus rising cash rents and the potential of losing rented acres have some growers cutting corners again, even though they need to commit to stronger fertility programs.”

Fortunately, attractive fertilizer prices in 2010 saw 95% of Musser’s customers follow newly established yield goals and apply much needed phorphorus (P) and potash (K) to keep soil tests above critical levels and at levels high enough to support 180- to 200-bushel-per-acre yields.

“Two years ago, we saw consistently higher yields, so we made the decision with our customers to set our yield goals at minimums of 185 for corn and 60 for soybeans,” Musser relates. “Grid sampling along with yield mapping is also helping us sell higher fertility rates. It really changes attitudes when they see the soil test levels of an area that may be 40% or 50% below the field average on yield.”

Leave a Reply

Seed/Biotech Stories

Crop InputsGMO Pipeline Features Consumer Targeted Modifications
April 15, 2016
The newly approved GMO Simplot Innate potato, developed to produce lower amounts of the harmful-yet-natural chemical acrylamide, resist bruising, and Read More
Crop InputsReuters: Chinese GMO Seed Espionage Making Iowa Farmers Uneasy
April 12, 2016
Tim Burrack, a northern Iowa farmer in his 44th growing season, has taken to keeping a wary eye out for Read More
Peanut field
FungicidesArysta LifeScience Receives EPA Approval Of Fungicide Seed Treatment
April 5, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced it received approval from the EPA of RANCONA V PD, a broad-spectrum fungicide dust Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto’s Dicamba Cropping System Cleared For 30-Day Comment Period
April 1, 2016
Today, EPA announced a 30-day public comment period regarding the in-crop use of dicamba herbicide with Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton Read More
Trending Articles
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More
Eric SfiligojBiotech Corn Drop More Economics Vs. Consumer Rejection
April 18, 2016
Since their introduction into the agricultural marketplace, biotech crops has steadily grown in acreage in the countries of the world Read More
Crop InputsBayer: 5 Reasons We Disagree With Maryland Neonic Ban
April 12, 2016
We’re disappointed that the Maryland legislature chose not to stand up for sound science and the rights of Maryland’s homeowners Read More
Corn
OpinionChallenging Global Economic Conditions Putting More Heat On U.S. Ag Retailers
April 7, 2016
There it is. That vague, slightly sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Things are getting weird out there. Read More
Latest News
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
ManagementFlashing Back And Moving Forward On Spray Drift
May 3, 2016
The potential for pesticide drift remains an unavoidable feature of modern agriculture. Here, too, history repeats itself. “When Roundup debuted, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesSurvey Provides Insights On Giant Ragweed In The Corn B…
May 2, 2016
A new survey published in the journal Weed Science offers insights into the distribution and management of giant ragweed, a Read More
Truck dumping dry fertilizer
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics Q&A: Southern States’ Joe Wlod…
May 2, 2016
Joe Wlodkoski, Director of Agronomy Procurement, Fertilizer, Southern States Cooperative, is a 40-plus year fertilizer industry veteran. He is quite Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
West Central Dome structure
FertilizerFertilizer Logistics 2016: All Clear, So Far
May 1, 2016
After a relatively hairy early start to the spring fertilizer movement season with flooding in Louisiana and St. Louis, things Read More
BAICOR
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Utah Specialty Fertilizer Company
April 28, 2016
BRANDT, a leading agriculture retailer and manufacturer of specialty ag products, has acquired a majority interest in BAICOR, L.C. BAICOR, Read More
Soybean field
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Adds Vice President Of Business…
April 28, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences has announced the addition of Marc Treurniet to the plant health and nutrition company’s management team. Treurniet Read More
ManagementBiotech Crops Developments and Millennials
April 28, 2016
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf talk about the latest activities in biotech crops and a major shift in the Read More
Industry NewsNachurs-Alpine, Pathway Biologic Extend Marketing Agree…
April 28, 2016
Nachurs-Alpine Solutions (Marion, OH) and Pathway Biologic (Plant City, FL) announce an extension to their exclusive marketing agreement specific to Read More
MicronutrientsCharah Add Three Warehouses For SUL4R-PLUS Fertilizer
April 28, 2016
Charah, Inc., a total solutions company providing unparalleled service and innovation for the coal-fired power generation industry, announced today that Read More
Spenser Forgey, Yahama Fortix
FungicidesIndiana Farmer Wins Arysta LifeScience FORTIX Fungicide…
April 28, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently presented Spenser Forgey, a grower from Young America, IN, with a new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly Read More
Corn Field
HerbicidesNew Wilbur‐Ellis Herbicide Targets Volunteer Corn
April 28, 2016
Wilbur‐Ellis Co., a recognized leader in marketing and distribution of crop protection products, as well as precision agriculture technology, has Read More
StewardshipNRCS To Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts On Wa…
April 27, 2016
The USDA has announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as Read More
Planter in Iowa
EquipmentTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant16
April 27, 2016
Despite some wet weather in parts of the Midwest, growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s Read More
HerbicidesHELM AGRO Launches New HELM Sulfentrazone 4F Herbicide
April 26, 2016
HELM AGRO US, Inc. has announced the federal Section 3 registration of its new HELM Sulfentrazone 4F herbicide. Classified as a Read More
Valley Irrigation Valley 8000 series on corn
EquipmentValley Irrigation Receives Environmental Stewardship Ho…
April 26, 2016
Valley Irrigation has been recognized as a Groundwater Guardian Green Site by the Groundwater Foundation. The Groundwater Guardian Green Site Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
HerbicidesHerbicide Resistance In Waterhemp Continues To Grow
April 22, 2016
Twenty-five years ago, waterhemp was virtually unknown to Illinois farmers. Today, the broadleaf weed blankets corn and soybean fields across Read More