Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie addressed a number of similar questions from farmers this past week. Here are several of the questions and his responses, provided in his recent Boots In The Field podcast.
Questions: Do we need to use a nitrogen inhibitor next spring when we apply 28% or 32% on top of a cover crop that will be no-tilled? Will I need to use an N inhibitor on top of oats in prevented plant acres? (In both cases, the N will not be worked in.)
Answer: My answer is yes, at least use an urease inhibitor on top of surface-applied N. If the N is being incorporated fairly soon after application, you probably don’t need to use an inhibitor.
Question: Do I need to use a nitrification inhibitor on fall-applied anhydrous now that temperatures are below 50 degrees F?
Answer: Yes, because we just don’t know what February or March will send our way. It’s a long time until we’ll have corn roots out there next June to pick up the N. The inhibitor will be a good investment for your corn crop and the environment, as well. Even with an inhibitor, there’s no guarantee you won’t lose nitrogen, but it does increase the odds that it’s going to hang around for us.
Question: Is it too late to run an inline ripper now in a vertical tillage program?
Answer: Not necessarily, but you need two things to make it work: traction at the soil surface to pull the tool, and it also has to be dry enough below the soil to get lift all the way across the shank spacings. In most cases, it’s usually the traction that’s the problem. If you can pull the tool, keep going deeper until you get soil lift from shank to shank. If you don’t, that soil will blow out from around the shanks and you’ll create uneven conditions going into next spring. You have to be able to achieve uniform fracture and lift from shank to shank.
Ferrie notes that he’s had reports this week of toolbars in strip-till fields letting off a lot of smoke and slabbing soil. “That smoke is your nitrogen program, and those slabs are next spring’s seedbed,” he explains. “Believe me, doing a poor job out there isn’t better than doing no job at all. Don’t screw up next season before we get started,” he adds.
Hear more of Ferrie's answers to farmers' questions here:
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