The Need For Nutrients

Crystal Valley Coop's Gary Spence scouts in a field of corn.
Crystal Valley Coop’s Gary Spence scouts in a field of corn.

The appetite for high-yielding technology has never been higher. With adoption of those technologies comes ancillary effects we’ve never had to consider. Such is the case with triple-stacked hybrids.

Industry experts estimate that more than 50% of U.S. corn acres were planted in stacked-trait, insect-resistant hybrids in 2013. It’s an important time to remember: There’s no easy option for long-term yield gain.

“As yields increase, so does the amount of nutrients we’re taking out of the soil,” says Gary Spence of Crystal Valley Coop, Lake Crystal, MN. “It’s important that growers pay close attention, because the game is changing in terms of nutrient removal. We’re finding that levels have dropped in a lot of fields in our areas and that means we need to pay closer attention to the soil.”

It’s important for retailers to remind customers that maximizing the benefits from top seed technology requires a comprehensive crop management approach. This includes assessment of nutrient uptake and the exact nutrition prescription needed to help the hybrid achieve success.

The Corn Rootworm Problem. There’s perhaps no better example than the plight of Corn Belt growers fighting corn rootworm. Corn rootworm is one of the most devastating insect pests corn growers face each year. It does its greatest damage at the larval stage, feeding on the roots of young corn plants. Rootworm larva feeding inhibits the corn plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients, including potassium, decreasing plants’ ability to grow, which can ultimately lead to yield loss.

More Tech, More Nutrient Uptake. Research conducted at the University of Illinois suggests that micromanaging the crop’s nutritional needs is critical in pushing the yield barrier and maximizing return on investment.

University of Illinois Professor of Plant Physiology Dr. Fred Below compared corn rootworm-resistant hybrids with their conventional counterparts to examine the variance in nutrient uptake.

Dr. Below confirmed the new resistant hybrids take up more nutrients than conventional counterparts, and that the increase in potassium uptake was greater than the increased uptake of many other nutrients.

This underscores the need for growers to combine a strong fertility program and balanced crop nutrition with the high-tech seed they’ve selected, in order for that seed to reach its full potential.

Maintaining The Power of Potassium

Potassium (K) is a vital nutrient to plant growth, since it performs a number of core functions to ensure healthy, stress-resistant plants. Treat plants to enough K, and the damage that pests and tough conditions create will actually be inhibited.

When water is scarce, K helps create concentration gradients inside the plant to help pull water into the plant. Furthermore, K regulates leaf tissue openings (stomata), helping them open and close quicker, which reduces moisture loss through the leaves and helps keep moisture in the plant.

Aside from helping maintain stalk strength and standability, K helps prevent disease by ensuring sugars and proteins the plant produces do not build up in tissues. Tissues with high levels of sugars and proteins attract insects and disease because these sugars are such excellent food sources for the pests. Adequate K levels in plants help maintain lower concentrations of sugars and proteins in cells, helping to prevent disease infections and deter insects.

On the other hand, K deficiencies can create a vicious cycle of unmet needs for a corn crop under pressure. Stressful conditions, such as those created by drought, disease and insect pressure, can interfere with root development as well as access to soil K and other nutrients.

Since corn rootworm-resistant hybrids require more K, it’s of increased importance that growers have a plan in place to protect the supply of this key nutrient pivotal to yield success.

It’s becoming clear across the Corn Belt that some growers are removing more K from the ground than they’re putting back.

“We’ve seen an increased demand for potash in our area, where the fertilizer needs seem to be on the rise,” says Spence. “It used to be that you could hold back based on rotation, but now we’re seeing a lot of farms spreading on every acre, every year.”

The International Plant Nutrition Institute’s most recent study of soil fertility levels showed that in many regions, K levels are declining, a strong indicator that growers’ current fertilization rates are not adequately replacing nutrient removal by high-yielding hybrids.

High-performance seed technology is a big investment for growers, and a proven tool for boosting yield. Hybrid seeds are an outstanding tool for higher yield, but not a replacement for the nutrients that allow the corn plant to prosper. It’s important to help producers take into account what this technology is removing from the ground as well.

As growers around the country strive toward next-level yields from high-producing hybrids, it’s more and more likely they’ll be looking for advice on updating their nutrient management plans as well. Helping growers revise fertility plans to take into account new requirements for K will be critical to help achieve unprecedented yields.

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
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
InsecticidesEPA Grants Besiege Insecticide Additional Approvals
June 18, 2014
EPA has granted additional registration approvals for the use of Syngenta's Besiege insecticide on sorghum, cereal grains and peanuts. Read More
HerbicidesArysta Touts Burndown Herbicide For Brome Management In Wheat
June 4, 2014
Arysta LifeScience North America recommends PRE-PARE Burndown Herbicide for effective brome management in winter wheat. Read More
HerbicidesFall Herbicide Applications More Effectively Manage Resistant Italian Ryegrass
May 14, 2014
Field studies show that a fall application of certain herbicides before weed emergence, leads to more successful crop planting and weed control in spring. 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

CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
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
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
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