Fertilizing Drought Soil

October 30, 2012 11:04 AM

Your Inputs Monitor recommends soil testing as a means of maximizing your inputs dollars. But with the soil still parched and very dry in parts of the Midwest, soil sampling may be problematic.

Sampling depth is typically 7 inches but if your soil is hard and dry, it may be difficult to extract a complete sample. If the top layer of soil is dry dust, make sure it gets in the bag along with the rest of the sample so the entire profile is represented. If a complete sample cannot be obtained, do not bother analyzing the samples as valuable soil profile information may be lost at the very top or very bottom of the core, and the results will be inaccurate.

Removal of P&K will likely be less this year than in a wetter year for those harvesting for grain. Corn used for silage will take much of any P&K with it, and those plots should expect nutrient uptake to more closely resemble that of a normal year. This is especially true of Potassium because the plant foliage is taken off of the dirt and the Potassium is not returned to the soil.

In a typical year, Corn removes about 70 lbs/acre of Nitrogen, 35 lbs/acre of Phosphorous and 30 lbs/acre of Potassium per 100bu. Soybeans remove around 37 lbs/acre of Phosphorous and 60 lbs/acre of Potassium per 50bu. Once a soil test analysis is complete, compare those findings with yields to zero-in on exactly what is happening in your soil profile.

Some growers may have good luck planting corn on corn in the spring, taking advantage of carryover N. This, of course, is not without its problems and if disease found your corn last year, it may find its way back into a corn-on-corn plot. In that case, rotation is the best medicine.

Application rates will vary along with in-plot yields. Growers across the cornbelt have reported to your Inputs Monitor yields of 10bu at one end of a row and 200bu at the other. This year will be an opportunity to maximize efficiency on the farm, and with accurate soil testing coupled with savvy yield/carryover calculations, 2013 has the potential to be a great year for growers.

For more on this, click to visit United Soils Inc.


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