Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

2017 Soybean Tissue Sampling Results

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
Guest host Jon Zuk joins Joel Wipperfurth to continue the conversation on 2017 tissue sampling results. On this episode, the guys look at nationwide tissue sampling trends in soybeans and examine why this crop is more difficult to manage and predict.
Season 12, Episode 2: 2017 Soybean Tissue Sampling Results

To be displayed under the play button: The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

2017 Corn Tissue Sampling Results

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
On this episode of The Deal With Yield, Joel Wipperfurth is joined by guest host Jon Zuk, agronomist with WinField United. The two discuss nationwide tissue sampling trends in corn and ways farmers can proactively combat nutrient deficiencies through varied in-season management practices.
Season 12, Episode 1: 2017 Corn Tissue Sampling Results

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

Follow Best Plant Sampling Practices for Accurate Analysis

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Understanding plant health and nutrient deficiencies begins establishing a baseline for fertility programs. The WinField® United NutriSolutions® 360 system is a season-long fertility management program, including soil and tissue sampling, lab analysis, and product recommendations. Review these guidelines and contact your local WinField® United agronomist for sampling recommendations.
  1. Perform timely sampling. Crops use nutrients differently at various growth stages, so not all crop samples should be taken at the same time. Sampling before crops need key nutrients allows time to adjust fertility plans in-season. Work with a trusted agronomy advisor to determine appropriate timing to acquire the most accurate data.
  2. Be selective in tissue choice. Choosing healthy plant material for sampling is imperative for accurate analysis. Plants under stress from drought, flooding, insect or disease pressure will likely show different nutrient readings than healthy areas of a field. For comparison purposes, stressed areas of a field may be sampled to measure differences in nutrient utilization. The NutriSolutions® 360 tissue testing handbook provides crop-specific tissue sampling timing and protocols.
  3. Collect enough plant tissue. Follow lab directions to ensure the proper amount of leaf tissue is collected for testing. The volume of tissue needed may depend on crop and growth stage. For example, a corn plant sample should be about the size of a softball when bunched up to account for drying that takes place before lab analysis.
  4. Select random plants. Take a big-picture look at the field you plan to sample to get the best results. The goal is to take enough samples randomly throughout the field to get an accurate snapshot of overall plant health. If the field is stressed, more samples should be taken to account for field variability. Avoid sampling plants that have necrotic tissue due to early senescence or disease. Imagery from the R7® Tool can also help identify areas of the field where tissue testing should be completed.
  5. Avoid contamination. Lab equipment is sensitive and will report false results if tissue is contaminated. Avoid submitting samples that may be contaminated by fertilizer residue or soil. If using tools to collect samples, clean them between plants to avoid transferring tissue from one sample to another.
  6. Plan ahead. Sampling at the beginning of the week will allow plenty of time for shipping to the lab. Pack and ship samples according to lab directions; extreme temperatures can negatively affect tissue quality. NutriSolutions 360® sampling requires specific tissue bags to prevent mold formation. Take inventory of your shipping supplies and invest in high-quality materials to ensure your samples arrive at the lab in good condition.

Research Shows Nationwide Plant Health Trends

WinField United
Agronomy Team
Understanding plant health is key to meeting crop yield potential. A study in the Agronomy Journal1 estimates that up to 60 percent of yield is dependent on soil fertility; but soil fertility alone doesn’t tell the whole story. The NutriSolutions 360® system from WinField® United is a season-long plant health management program, including soil and tissue sampling, nutrient analysis, and recommendations to help farmers optimize growing conditions for their crops. More than 410,000 plant samples have been analyzed nationwide over several growing seasons with 92,775 samples taken in 2016, revealing crop- and area-specific nutrient deficiencies that could negatively impact yield potential.
 
Nutrient Trends and Insights
Here are some nationwide trends revealed by NutriSolutions 360® tissue analysis in 2016.
 
  • Corn was deficient in zinc, potassium and nitrogen. Seventy-two percent of the more than 17,500 corn samples taken nationwide were low in zinc. Sixty-eight and 66 percent of corn samples were low in potassium and nitrogen, respectively. Other problem nutrients in corn included manganese, sulfur and boron — all were over 60 percent deficient in 2016 samples.
  • Soybeans lacked potassium. Sampling revealed that 78 percent of the more than 5,500 soybean samples taken in 2016 were low in potassium. Soybean samples also lacked manganese and copper (53 and 42 percent respectively).
  • Wheat exhibited micronutrient deficiencies. More than 90 percent of 2016 wheat samples showed low levels of chloride, which is important for photosynthesis and nutrient transport in wheat. Zinc and/or magnesium levels were low in more than 60 percent of samples. Copper and potassium deficiencies were also common in wheat in 2016.
  • Cotton showed issues with potassium deficiency. Most of the more than 2,500 cotton samples showed low levels of potassium in 2016. Cotton is more susceptible to root and leaf diseases when potassium is limited. Large amounts of the nutrient are needed as bolls begin to develop and fill, so potassium deficiency can also decrease yields. Boron and/or calcium levels were also low in around half the cotton samples received.
  • Alfalfa was short on calcium and magnesium. Calcium deficiency in alfalfa can inhibit root growth and plant development. More than 93 percent of the over 800 alfalfa samples had low levels of calcium in 2016. Low levels of magnesium were also reported.
  • Corn silage nutrient deficiencies included phosphorus, manganese, nitrogen and zinc. Corn silage can remove more nutrients from soil than corn grain, so additional fertilization may be needed on these acres. More than 50 percent of corn silage samples tested in 2016 were deficient in phosphorus, manganese, nitrogen and/or zinc.

Tissue Sampling Can Help Boost Yield Potential
Once deficiency is visible in the field, it’s often too late to correct. Tissue sampling allows insight into a crop’s nutrient status before deficiencies become visible. This allows for corrective action prior to yield loss. Following a solid soil sampling plan and executing a proactive approach to tissue sampling is key to crop success.
 
While nationwide trends in crop health were analyzed and reported, individual field testing is the best way to evaluate nutrient deficiencies. Plant health is dynamic, and nutrient availability is based on localized conditions and management practices.
 
1Stewart, W. M., D. W. Dibb, A. E. Johnston, and T. J. Smyth. 2005. The Contribution of Commercial Fertilizer Nutrients to Food Production. Agron. J. 97:1-6.

Manage Fall Nitrogen Responsibly

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Fall nutrient applications, particularly nitrogen, can help crops get off to the right start the following year. At the same time, targeted nutrient management is a goal shared across our industry, especially with nitrogen issues at the forefront of many conversations. It’s important to check field conditions and use technology to determine effective and responsible nitrogen management practices.
 
Stabilize nitrogen for sustainable, effective use
It is important to stabilize nitrogen in the fall to slow down its conversion into the mobile nitrate form. Un-stabilized nitrogen applications will expose the field to more risk, leaving winter precipitation and wet spring conditions to carry the nitrate nitrogen off target. Stabilizing nitrogen protects your investment as well as water quality.
 
The majority of nitrogen loss (around 70%) can occur below ground so adding protection to reduce leaching and loss from denitrification is important. Using N-Serve® nitrogen stabilizer with fall-applied anhydrous ammonia will make that nitrogen less susceptible to loss by keeping more of it available in the root zone during key corn growth stages.
 
Check field conditions for best nitrogen application timing 
There are several things you can easily evaluate to determine if fall nitrogen applications are appropriate for your acres.
  • Soil temperatures should cool to (and stay below) 50 degrees Fahrenheit as this is when soil bacteria activity is reduced.
  • Soil textures should be medium to loamy for optimal fall nitrogen applications. Sandy soils and coarse to medium topsoil with fractured limestone may allow fall-applied nitrogen to leach into water supplies, threatening groundwater quality.
  • Soil moisture that is moderate works best for ammonia application, but dry soils with medium or heavy texture that are in good physical condition can also work. Wet soils must be avoided due to poor sealing ability and potential of clodding.
 
Use tech to manage nitrogen responsibly
Using ag technology to optimize nitrogen applications can significantly increase potential return on investment and minimize the overall impact to the environment.
  • In-season imagery can help ensure you pinpoint the exact locations within a field where high yield environments exist. These images can be used to design a base layer fall nitrogen recommendation which can be followed by a precise in-season application to optimize high yield zones.
  • Models can aid you in monitoring in-season variables and making decisions on optimal rates. For example, you can see unfavorable weather in the forecast or look at response to nitrogen (RTN) scores on your hybrids and realize your hybrid might be hungry for nitrogen to drive an increase in bushels.
  • Tissue and soil samples can be paired with models and imagery to provide more insight into what the plant is enduring. Sampling can also be used to calibrate the model back to fit your farm and hybrid.
  • Variable rate technology can be used to apply nitrogen exactly where it needs to go. This can be beneficial for minimizing nitrogen waste and managing cost per bushel.
 
Contact your local WinField United retailer to determine the best nitrogen management options for your operation.

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