Ken Ferrie Breaks Down the Connection of Fertility, Crop Residue and pH

November 9, 2010 11:19 PM

Every Corn College TV episode aims to help you maximize yield, minimize inputs and get the most from your fields. In Episode 3 Ken Ferrie starts with the Systems Approach to take your yields to the next level.

One important aspect of the Systems Approach is the connection between crop residue, fertility, and pH.  

“We need to account for what the soil will give us, make up for those differences and then also account for the losses, which is difficult because mother nature plays a big role in that,” Ferrie explains. “Rain can be nitrogen’s enemy and helper.”

Part of that management will be understanding the paying the carbon penalty. As microbes process residue, they release the nitrogen held in those materials.  Ferrie says, anywhere from 30 to 70% of the N needed to raise a crop could come from the soil.

“Keep the microbes happy, and pH is a big factor. Some of the microbes will be more sensitive to pH, especially if pH is too low. Acid soils tend to have poor nitrogen availability,” he says.

Ferrie’s advice is to keep corn green from start to finish. Try not to let it go yellow and show nitrogen deficiencies. One way to save any loss is intervening with a high clearance application. Ferrie also explains why you don’t want corn to be yellow going into tasseling.

“Of the many components you can focus on, know your soil type. Wherever water goes, the nitrogen goes and you can plan your nitrogen management by knowing more and knowing how much N you think the soil will give us,” Ferrie says.

Learn more in Episode 3 of Corn College TV.



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