Do You Need Sulfur For Corn?

In 2009, Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension specialist in soil fertility and plant nutrition, began a study to evaluate the response of corn to sulfur. He discovered that while some locations showed no response to sulfur, some did. Locations that were more responsive showed yield increases ranging from a few bushels to more than 50 bushels per acre compared to the untreated check.

While 2010 yield data is not complete yet, Fernandez did see visual evidence that sulfur applications were achieving a response.

"Sulfur is a very important nutrient for corn production," Fernandez said. "Historically, routine sulfur application for corn has not been recommended in Illinois because earlier research showed no response to sulfur and because soil supply, manure applications, and/or atmospheric deposition were sufficient to supply sulfur needs for this crop."

But times are changing. Soil sulfur levels or supply may be diminishing due to several factors.

"Strict air pollution standards have cleaned the air of gaseous sulfur compounds resulting in less sulfur atmospheric deposition," he said. "In general, many agronomic inputs such as fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides are ‘cleaner,’ having less incidental sulfur in them. Also, fewer livestock operations across the state are leading to decreased manure applications, which further reduce the amount of sulfur being applied with this fertilizer source."

At the same time less incidental sulfur is being applied or deposited, there is greater removal of sulfur by increasing crop yields, he added.

Due to these factors, Fernandez believes there is a need to further investigate sulfur fertilization for corn in Illinois. This study will produce valuable information regarding the frequency of sulfur deficiency that Illinois can expect, and most important, identify the most likely regions or conditions under which sulfur deficiencies can occur in the state.

To increase the usefulness of this project to Illinois farmers, Fernandez needs volunteers throughout the state who would like to participate in an on-farm research study to measure corn response to sulfur fertilization.

Fernandez said all soil types will be considered, but his team is especially interested in light-colored soils (less than 2 percent organic matter, coarse texture, or both) and soils with an eroded phase. The only soils that will not be considered are soils that have received manure or sulfur applications within the past five years.

Volunteers conducting these trials will follow a simple design applying 0 and 30 pounds of sulfur per acre as a broadcast application in a uniform portion of the field. A minimum of three replications or as many as 8 replications are needed for each field. It will be important to georeference or clearly mark each strip with different color flags or markers in the center of each strip, Fernandez said.

Strips can be eight to 16 rows wide by 300 to 1,000 feet long. The size of the strip must allow accurate application of the rate, accurate measurement of yield, and if possible, be wider than the harvest strip. However, if the combine is at least 12 to 16 rows wide, it is possible to harvest the strip without having border rows.

University of Illinois researchers prefer the use of ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 (21-0-0-24); MicroEssentials sulfur (ME S) ME S15 (13-33-0-15); or elemental sulfur (0-0-0-90). If the sulfur source contains other accompanying nutrients, the corresponding rates of those nutrients will need to be applied to other treatment strips to avoid a differential response to nutrients other than sulfur.

"Applying treatments this fall would definitely be an option," he said. "However, our preferred application time is the spring (pre-plant), but we understand that fall might be the only option for some farmers."

The only data volunteers will have to provide is the yield for each strip. This information can be collected by yield monitor or from a weigh wagon. Volunteers will not be required to take plant or soil samples, but would need to allow the researcher to visit the strips two to three times during the growing season.

"The better coverage of the state we have, the greater our ability to predict where sulfur applications are most needed," he said.

(Source: Fabian Fernandez, University of Illinois Extension)

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Do You Need Sulfur For Corn?

  1. How about using ammonium thiosulfate (ATS) as a source of sulfur? Many of the dealers in Illinois carry the product and it easily mixes with UAN solution.

    Thanks

  2. What about using Potassium Sulfate (SOP) form of “potash” as suppliment to potassium chloride (MOP) form of potash? Can be easily blended and is U.S. sourced.
    Thanks

Latest News
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Crop InputsBayer To Contest EPA Flubendiamide Decision
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced today it has refused a request by EPA to voluntarily cancel the uses Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw Nat…
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare In…
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Strengthens Sales Team
February 4, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced three new personnel additions: Jake Cook and Peter White are Territory Sales Managers for Read More
Davor Pisk Syngenta COO
Crop InputsSyngenta COO: Why ChemChina Offer Beat Monsanto’s
February 4, 2016
Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk says he is confident the proposed acquisition by ChemChina will ultimately help preserve choice Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsKoch Biological Solutions Invests In Pathway Biologic
February 4, 2016
An affiliate of Koch Biological Solutions, LLC has acquired a minority equity position in, and entered into collaboration with, Pathway Read More
Crop InputsABG: China Signs Off On Monsanto’s Roundup Ready …
February 3, 2016
Monsanto Co. on Wednesday announced it plans to launch its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in time for the 2016 Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop Inputs6 Things To Know About The ChemChina-Syngenta Deal
February 3, 2016
After months of rumors and speculation, Syngenta has announced that ChemChina has offered to acquire the Swiss-based company. “In making Read More
FertilizerPhosphorus: Is Band Or Broadcast Application The Better…
February 3, 2016
Is band or broadcast application the better method when it comes to phosphorus? The answer to this question depends mostly Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina Nearing Deal To Buy Syngenta For Record $43 B…
February 3, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. is nearing an agreement to buy Swiss pesticide-and-seeds-maker Syngenta AG for about 43.7 billion francs ($42.8 Read More
Herbicides2015 ASA Trials Demonstrate Valent Fierce XLT Herbicide…
February 2, 2016
Valent U.S.A. today announced that new Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide ranks in the top tier among growers for length of Read More
Crop Protection Products in storage
Paul SchrimpfCrop Input Selling: Return Of The Price List
February 2, 2016
It was a good 15 years ago, shortly after I first started writing for this esteemed publication, that it all Read More
Potash storage at Growmark
FertilizerThe Phosphate And Potash Outlook For 2016
February 2, 2016
Like other commodities, prices of the leading plant nutrient products dropped sharply in 2015. At this writing, the price of Read More
Chesapeake Bay
StewardshipKeeping A Watch On Water Issues
February 2, 2016
During a down cycle in the market, it’s difficult to think about investing for the long term. For retail businesses, Read More
Young Corn Plants
FertilizerNutrient Considerations For Low Corn Prices
February 2, 2016
Corn prices are low and many producers are asking tough questions about their nutrient management programs. Here are some suggestions Read More