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

Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More
Trending Articles
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Latest News
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
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
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More
ManagementNews from InfoAg 2016 and Weed Wands
August 11, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review what happened at last week’s big Precision Ag event and a possible solution Read More
Crop InputsFBN: We’re ‘Here To Stay’
August 11, 2016
PERSPECTIVE — If you’ve been following this site for a while you might remember a certain editorial we published on Read More
Diversified Agri-Services
StewardshipDiversified Agri-Services Certified In 4R Nutrient Stew…
August 11, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Diversified Agri-Services Inc. in McCutchenville, OH, has been added to its growing Read More
Soil
FertilizerSoil Health Experts Gain Ground On Standardized Measure…
August 11, 2016
Soil health experts from across North America plan to integrate more research projects to provide agricultural producers and policy makers Read More
Regulator 3.0 Concentrate
AdjuvantsNew Max Systems Product Aids Irrigation
August 11, 2016
A gentle rainfall is nearly always welcomed by crop producers, including those who rely on irrigation to produce a profitable Read More