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

Featured Stories

CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
Eric SfiligojMAGIE 2014: A ShowStopping Event
August 8, 2014
The kick-off to the summer show season, Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE), takes place next week in Bloomington, IL. Read More
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More

Trending Articles

ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
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
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

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK CEO To Retire
August 22, 2014
GROWMARK chief executive officer Jeff Solberg has announced his retirement effective September 15, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesDuPont’s Prevathon Approved For Dry Beans
August 22, 2014
DuPont Prevathon insect control powered by Rynaxypyr has received EPA registration for foliar use on dry bean crops, including dried shelled peas and beans. Read More
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