7 Keys To Delivering Effective Fertility Programs: #1 Soil Testing

Agriculture today is being challenged. The task ahead for every person and entity in the crop  production chain is clear: figuring out how to feed a growing global population using essentially the same number of acres while making best use of our limited resources.

This challenge has triggered a top-to-bottom review of best practices to determine what the industry is doing right, and what we can do better. One key focus is on the condition of our soils, and whether our fields are nutrient-optimized to reduce risk and maximize yield.

Not unlike the annual check-up we go through at the doctor’s office, a regular soil testing regimen sets the baseline to understand a field’s soil health and vitality. Adds long-time agronomist and researcher Dr. Harold Reetz, “soil testing is the only way we have of determining whether or not we have enough nutrients in the soil to grow healthy crops.”

Dr. Paul Fixen, senior vice president and director of research at the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), says that the idea of nutrient balance — comparing the amount applied to the amount removed by crop harvest — has been a key topic at meetings he has attended recently.

Through aggregating national soil test data, IPNI has determined that despite the benefits of optimizing yield, soil nutrient levels are often not where they need to be.

“The balances for phosphorus and potassium in much of the U.S. Corn Belt have become decidedly negative, and our soil test summaries have demonstrated that these negative budgets are frequently drawing down soil fertility to less than optimal levels,” says Fixen. Retail agronomists play two critical roles. First, they must ensure that accurate and regular soil tests are a part of the fertility program. Second, they must reinforce with growers the importance of following scientific recommendations to more fully realize the yield potential of the crop and maintain the long-term value of the land.


usa2.largeusa1.largeThe maps reveal the percentage of soil samples that are below critical levels for major crops in phosphorus (at left or top) and potassium. 2010 data courtesy of IPNI. Click to enlarge.


What To Consider When Selecting Your Starter Fertilizer

The use of starter fertilizer materials is an important decision for your farming operation. Make certain your crop is getting the adequate nutrition early in the growing season to make high yields achievable.

  1. Soils with low-soil-test phosphorus and potassium are prime soils for applying a complete macronutrient starter package.
  2. Tillage is a major factor on selection when using soil-test information to make starter-source decisions.
  3. Starter formulations with sulfur and micronutrients are also an option. However, soil type is a major factor when considering this formulation.
  4. High pH testing soils can respond well to starter fertilizers that contain zinc, manganese or other micronutrients.
  5. Soils that produced nutrient-deficient crops in the past can benefit from starter fertilizer containing the deficient nutrient.
  6. For farmers that rely primarily on sidedress nitrogen for the bulk of the nitrogen budget, starter materials with a good amount of nitrogen can go a long way toward ensuring adequate nitrogen nutrition until sidedress time.

Sponsored by PotashCorp

About The Series

The fertility program is at the heart of a comprehensive cropping plan, and a central part of the relationship between ag retailers and growers. The CropLife 100 Retailers survey data as compiled in 2012 reported that in aggregate, 55 percent of crop input and service revenue was generated from the sale of fertilizer.

Not surprisingly, fertilizer program management attracts the lion’s share of attention. Effective management of fertilizer on behalf of growers requires a complete understanding of field and crop needs, proper prescription development and accurate application, and scouting and monitoring. Then at season’s end, a full evaluation to compare past planting seasons is required as planning commences for the season ahead.

To highlight the important aspects of fertility management programs, CropLife magazine and PotashCorp are pleased to present the Seven Keys to Delivering Effective Fertility Programs.

Leave a Reply

7 Keys To Delivering Effective Fertility Programs Stories

Trending Articles

EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 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
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces Enlist Ahead App For Enlist…
August 12, 2014
Designed for use with the Enlist Weed Control System, the app is a precision agriculture tool for maximizing weed control performance, managing weed resistance and making responsible applications of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Announces Senior Leadership Team Changes
August 12, 2014
Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Read More