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The Systems Approach to Sulfur

January 6, 2012
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete

There are many similarities in management nitrogen and sulfur, says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie.

“Just as nitrogen is important, so is sulfur. In fact, the two nutrients have similar cycles,” he says.
The biggest difference between the two is the amount your crop needs.
“That is the challenge with secondary nutrients is that farmers don’t pay as much attention to them,” Ferrie explains. “In the past, we’ve had sulfur readily supplied by the atmosphere because our air was polluted with it. And with bigger yield goals, you may need to apply more sulfur”
Sulfur plays a role in higher yields. Plants take up sulfur in the sulfate form, and it can be leached out of the soil profile and it can volatilized. The oxidation process for sulfur to become sulfate is driven by microorganisms.
Ferrie says sulfur deficiency shows in the new growth of the plant because it’s a non-mobile nutrient.
“The secret to sulfur management is early uptake so your program meets the plant’s needs later in the season,” Ferrie says.
Learn more in this episode of Corn College TV.

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