Fundamental Fertilizer Management for 2021 in the Mid-South

Larry Oldham, Extension Soils Specialist
By Larry Oldham, Extension Soils Specialist March 31, 2021 09:50

Fundamental Fertilizer Management for 2021 in the Mid-South

Related Articles

Latest Tweets

 

Fertilizer prices are a trending topic of Plant 2021. Many, if not most row crop farmers in Mississippi and surrounding states address basic soil fertility needs either via fall applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and/or booking preseason prices with their fertilizer suppliers. If this is you, the weekly fertilizer price spikes are just interesting.

The DTN report for March 26 found only seven of the eight tracked major fertilizer prices went up more than 5%, rather than all eight for the first time in several weeks. See their report at: https://agfax.com/2021/03/26/dtn-fertilizer-trend-price-climb-slows/. The article provides a link to excellent advice from Dr. Dan Kaiser at the University of Minnesota to cope with the situation for upper Midwest farmers and consultants, this is another: https://blog-crop-news.extension.umn.edu/2021/03/with-rising-fertilizer-prices-how-can.html.

If you did not fall apply or lock in your fertilizer prices before the spike, You might ask “what is the best path forward?” This may sound familiar to you: to cope with higher fertilizer prices, do what you (should) do when commodity prices are low. Take care of the basics, that is the blocking and tackling, or the pitching and playing defense, or any other sports analogy you prefer.

To be blunt: if you decided to skip soil testing for the current crop year, its time to reconsider . Soil tests provide snapshots of the soil’s ability to support the current crop and are the basis of sound fertility management. Soil testing programs provide fertility suggestions, aka recommendations for P, K, and lime programs to optimize productivity. Different laboratories will provide different recommendations. Revisit this previous January Mississippi Crop Situation post to learn more about why: https://www.mississippi-crops.com/2021/01/22/soil-test-recommendations/. Sometimes the answer is avoid fertilizer purchases, but you need to be able to justify this decision

Nitrogen of course is not fall applied in the mid-south, and we lack calibrated and correlated soil testing protocols. We suggest applying nitrogen at specific times according to the needs of the crop. This should improve fertilizer use efficiency and avoid potential loss if there is an early-season wet period. Nitrogen management guidance specifically for corn is available at https://www.mississippi-crops.com/2020/03/20/top-five-management-strategies-to-improve-corn-profitability/.

The Midwestern article linked above addresses whether to spend stretched budgets on inconsistently proven fertility enhancement products. Occasionally there is a positive response to these products in university trials. Several years ago, we were tangentially involved in a product field evaluation that obtained positive responses to a non-traditional application in two of eight site-years. Despite the negative return-on-investment in 75% of the site-years, it was promoted on the 25%. Growers must decide how much budget risk to tolerate when evaluating products.

In summary, take care of fundamentals. Do the blocking and tackling during the game to avoid desperation Hail Mary passes to the end zone at the end. Yes, long heaves may work occasionally, but it is much easier on the fans’ (and the bankers’) nerves to implement a sound, fundamental game plan.

The author appreciates the assistance of Drs. Mike Cox and Keri Jones.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Larry Oldham, Extension Soils Specialist
By Larry Oldham, Extension Soils Specialist March 31, 2021 09:50
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment

<

Subscribe to receive updates

More Info By