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

Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situation in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Completion
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening (w/Q&A)
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
Latest News
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situatio…
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
ManagementConsolidation Update
June 22, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss progress on manufacturer consolidation, and another big move for Midwest cooperative Central Valley Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Complet…
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening…
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New President
June 19, 2017
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Mary Tolke to the position of President/CEO, effective July 1. Read More
ManagementPlotting Corn, AGCO/Asmark’s Applicator Training Center…
June 15, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent visits to Columbus, OH, and Bloomington, IL, along with an Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 20…
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
ASMARK AGCO Applicator Training Center
EmployeesAsmark, AGCO Open Training Center for Beginning Applica…
June 13, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute have opened a new Applicator Training Center, created in a collaboration between the two Read More
Power to Do More Contest Winners
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Three Winners in Power to Do…
June 13, 2017
Thousands of votes have been cast and three farmers have been awarded the power to do more with a $10,000 Read More
Frogeye leaf spot
FungicidesStrobilurin-resistant Frogeye Leaf Spot Threat Looms wi…
June 13, 2017
Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterwa…
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Wheat Growers
UncategorizedWheat Growers Names Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice Presiden…
June 12, 2017
Wheat Growers has hired Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice President of Agronomy. Linbo joins Wheat Growers after having served 10 Read More
EquipmentAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Central Valley Ag Randolph, NE
Precision AgLand O’Lakes Invests in EFC Systems
June 12, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, Inc., an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision Read More
BRANDT
Crop InputsBRANDT Products Approved for Use with New Cropping Syst…
June 12, 2017
BRANDT, a leading manufacturer of specialty products for the agriculture and turf markets, has announced that 11 BRANDT formulations have Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soyb…
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More