Field Scouting to Phosphorus: 5 Tips from Corn College

July 20, 2015 12:39 PM
Ken Ferrie at Corn College

You can’t control Mother Nature or the markets, but there’s plenty of things you can do to maximize your yields. Here are a few suggestions from the experts at last week’s Corn College in Heyworth, Ill.  

  1. For the best decision-making information, combine your in-field observations with data, science, and high-tech tools. “The best laid variable-rate plan has to be backed with someone going into the field. Everything must be ground-truthed,” said Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie, who also offered tips on choosing the best hybrid.  Wondering what to look for in your fields? Ferrie shared his advice in Seven Agronomic Tips With Ken Ferrie.
  2. Be prepared to calibrate your yield monitors accordingly if you plan on zone management so you are gathering the most helpful data. “A precisely calibrated yield map is invaluable toward a zone management plan,” said Issac Ferrie, who also presented at Corn College.
  3. Precision counts when you’re talking about phosphorus. “Phosphorus isn’t going to move through the soil as readily as nitrate. We can’t just put it in a band 4” to 6” away from the plant and expect the plant to find it. We want it very close so we’re hitting it right from the start since phosphorus controls growth,” according to Issac Ferrie. (Get more advice in Make Your Phosphorus Dollars Count.)   
  4. Rinse your sprayer again and again, advised Fred Whitford of Purdue Extension. You really can’t afford to throw away yield this year.  
  5. Even if you don’t farm in Iowa, it’s worth the time to improve your nitrogen management, especially with all the rain this year. You’re going to want to keep an eye on what’s happening to the Des Moines lawsuit,” said Missy Bauer, Farm Journal's associate field agronomist. “I think overall, one thing we’ll be forced to do is manage nitrogen better.” Ken Ferrie also advised growers to prepare for regulations to stay competitive in fertilizer management. “The reality is we’ve got to learn to farm with more regulation. Staying competitive in this storm will take more management than money.”

Want to protect your corn and soybean yields? Join Farm Journal in Coldwater, Mich., for Corn College and Soybean College in August. For more information or to register, click here. 

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