Growing Knowledge

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

Season 15, Episode 2: Digging Into Nutrient Deficiencies in Alfalfa and Soybeans

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
Hosts Joel Wipperfurth and Jon Zuk expand on the nutrient deficiency conversation on this episode of The Deal With Yield. Jon gives a look into 2018 soybean yields and the common nutrient deficiencies seen in fields across Minnesota. Joel talks alfalfa and the decision-making that goes along with managing his favorite crop.
 
Digging Into Nutrient Deficiencies in Alfalfa and Soybeans

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

Enhance Your Variable-Rate Fertility on Wheat

Chris Heidrich
Are you looking to boost the yield and ROI potential of your wheat crop? If so, more intense, targeted nutrient management in areas where it will be most effective could help you push your crop to the next level of bushels per acre and protein content. Here are some tips to help you optimize fertility in your fields.
 
1. Start with a soil sample.
Zone soil sampling can give you valuable information about nutrient variability in your wheat fields and, depending on your region, can be more cost-effective than grid sampling. Talk with your local trusted advisor about getting soil samples now prior to freeze-up and snow cover.
 
2. Choose the right varieties.
Ask your advisor how the Characterization Charts (CHT Tool) function of the R7® Tool can help you choose the wheat varieties that will best meet your production goals. High management on varieties with high response-to-population, response-to-nitrogen and response-to-fungicide scores can help you boost both yield and quality potential at harvest. If you do choose a high-management variety, work with your agronomist to time input applications appropriately.
 
3. Manage by zones.
Establishing yield goals by zones is critical to help determine how much fertility you need to apply in each area. Work with your advisor next season to use satellite imagery, prior year crop removal and past yield results to set yield goals for each management zone on your operation with the R7 Tool.
 
4. Pay attention to nitrogen and sulfur.
These macronutrients play important roles in wheat development and in quality and protein content at the end of the season. If your nitrogen-to-sulfur ratios are optimal late in the season, you have a better chance of achieving the protein and quality levels you desire. A number of farmers use variable-rate split nitrogen, which is an application of nitrogen at the beginning of the season, with another at flag leaf or post-flowering for a protein boost.
 
5. Look at the data.
In 2015, 2016 and 2017, my colleagues and I performed side-by-side variable-rate and static-rate checks on farms in western North Dakota and eastern Montana where variable-rate fertility applications were being performed on wheat for the first time. These were not scientific trials and there was no attempt to replicate the trials. The objective was to give farmers some perspective on how variable-rate fertility applications could potentially impact yield in their fields.
 
As we compiled yield data from the trials, we found crops that received variable-rate treatments outyielded the static strip by an average of nearly 4 bushels per acre.*
 
Selecting the right varieties, getting population right, doing variable-rate nutrient applications, and using technology to detect disease and weed pressures can help you give your wheat crop the level of management it deserves. And help you reach the goals you want to achieve. 
 
 
* Source: 2015–2017 customer field trials (52 locations in Montana and North Dakota). Because of factors outside of WinField United's control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by WinField United. Actual results may vary.
 
© 2018 WinField United. R7® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.
 

Find Ways to Improve Profitability: Attend a Clinic

Bob Pomerleau
Make room on your calendar this winter for an opportunity to improve your operation’s profitability. WinField United retailers will be hosting more than 3,500 clinics across the country to share agronomic insights to help you get more from your acres, as well as highlight the latest plant nutrition and crop protection products. Here are some of the topics that may be presented at a clinic near you.
 
Response to Fungicide (RTF)
  • Learn about tools to help you understand where fungicide applications are more likely to have a positive impact on ROI.
  • See spray demonstrations to learn what products can help improve fungicide coverage.
Managing Dicamba
  • Determine the best practices for managing dicamba applications on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybean acres.
  • Discover ways to combat herbicide-resistant weeds and steward new technology.
Journey of the Droplet
  • Get the facts. Picking the right adjuvant is extremely important in the battle against weed pressure and resistance. Learn more about how to improve coverage and uptake to get it right the first time.
  • Learn which adjuvants provide consistent product performance to help control rising pressure from weeds  
Tips for High Yield/High Management Acres
  • Prep for optimal yields by learning how to adjust nutrient levels throughout the year.
  • Learn how different nutrient formulations can influence plant uptake.
Nitrogen Management Best Practices
  • Find out how your fields are losing nitrogen and focus on solutions to keep it in the root zone.
  • Protect your investment by learning how the right rate, nutrient source and application timing can make a difference in plant availability. 
 
You’ll hear about these topics and more at the upcoming clinics. Our local agronomists will also be available to answer more specific crop production questions and provide recommendations as you plan for 2019. Contact your local WinField United retailer for more information about upcoming clinics in your area.
 
© 2018 WinField United. WinField® is a trademark of WinField United. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® is a trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC.

Consider a Back to Basics Approach for Crop Fertility

Jason Haegele
Agronomist, WinField United
Chances are you have some routines and standard processes in place for managing your crop. You’re probably fertilizing, taking care of weeds and choosing the right hybrids for your acres. But, are you keeping plant physiology in mind when you make those decisions? It's not just about applying fertilizer, it’s also thinking about the timing, the rate and source of nutrients to ensure they’re available to the crop exactly when it needs it.
 
Plant nutrition 101
There are 17 nutrients that are required by all plants for survival. Each one promotes a different function in the plant and is derived from a different source, whether that is the air, water, soil minerals or a synthetic fertilizer. If you had the capability to completely remove any one of these nutrients from a crop, it would be unable to perform some function. For example, a plant grown completely without nitrogen would not produce chlorophyll and amino acids essential for proper growth. While it’s critical for plants to have an adequate supply of the essential nutrients for development, not all nutrients are needed in the same quantities and at the same time.
 
Time is of the essence
Agronomists use the term “elemental prominence” to describe the idea that there are certain nutrients that are more important than others at key points during the growth and development of a plant. We know that zinc, for example, is one nutrient that plants are most responsive to early in the growing season when the seed is germinating, emerging from the soil and establishing a young plant. Zinc is important for root growth and enzyme processes in the plant, so it makes sense to apply that nutrient early in the season rather than waiting until later to get the maximum benefit.
 
Putting these ideas into action
Understanding the inner workings of your crops can help you develop a more effective fertility program. Soil sampling prior to planting gives a baseline for determining nutrient levels so you can decide how and when you’ll supplement based on crop needs. Plant tissue sampling can give an indication of how efficiently the crop is using soil nutrients and can allow time for amendments in-season.
 
Much of the focus in the fall will be on phosphorus and potassium, and in certain geographies nitrogen. But there's also a great opportunity to focus on some of the other nutrients, such as sulfur and micronutrients, to provide a strong foundation for adequate plant uptake next year. Talk with your local agronomist to make the most of your crop fertility plans.

5 Tips for Fall Nitrogen Management

Tyler Steinkamp
Regional Agronomist
Nitrogen is a tough nutrient to manage. It can be immobilized, volatilized or leached before plants even have a chance to uptake it. As you consider fall nitrogen applications, here are five tips to make the most of your dollars and time.
 
  1. Watch soil temperatures. Before you apply your fall nitrogen application, be sure the soil temperature is at 50 degrees and declining. Nitrification can take place when soils are above this threshold, making the potential loss over the winter relatively high.
 
  1. Split your applications. With fall-applied nitrogen, you’re many months away from crop uptake. About 75 percent of a corn plant’s nitrogen is taken up before tassel, and 80 percent of that is taken up between V8 and VT. Even with a nitrogen stabilizer, there is a decent potential for loss during those months between a fall application and crop uptake.
 
Spoon-feeding nitrogen throughout the season can favor plant availability. Start with ammonia in the fall, follow that with an at-planting application with your herbicide to get the crop up and running, and finish with a side-dress nitrogen application around V5.
 
  1. Check hybrid response. The amount of nitrogen you apply will vary each year depending on yield goals, weather conditions, crop rotation and the hybrid’s response to nitrogen (RTN). If your hybrids have a high nitrogen response, I’d recommend applying more nitrogen with spring applications. I tend to recommend variable-rate applications in the spring rather than the fall depending on the hybrid’s RTN, the rainfall amounts and the previous crop.
 
  1. Stabilize your nitrogen. Nitrogen stabilizers slow down the conversion of ammonium to nitrate, which is critical to keeping nitrogen in a form that prevents leaching. I recommend using nitrogen stabilizers with every fall application and potentially with early spring applications, depending on the amount of nitrogen applied. Even at planting, you’re 60 days from when the crop will use most of the available nitrogen, so there’s still potential for significant loss.
 
In Iowa, N-Serve® and Instinct® are two popular products used to help stabilize nitrogen. Based on 452 trials from 2010 to 2016, there was an average 8.9 bushel per acre yield increase when Instinct and N-Serve were applied to corn*. In addition, corn trials treated with NutriSphere-N® produced an average 10.0 more bushels per acre versus untreated checks, demonstrating the effectiveness of adding a nitrogen stabilizer to your application.* 
 
  1. Don’t forget sulfur. Without enough sulfur, plants aren’t able to use nitrogen efficiently. For every 10 units of nitrogen applied, a unit of sulfur should also be applied. That can come in the form of elemental sulfur in the fall or an AMS or ATS product in the spring. Elemental sulfur doesn’t release quickly, so I recommend no more than 50 percent of sulfur needs come from elemental sulfur or gypsum. The other 50 percent of sulfur can be applied in the spring with an AMS or ATS product.
 
Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for postharvest nitrogen applications. Contact your WinField United retailer for more information on best nitrogen management practices.
 
* Based on Verdesian Life Sciences and Dow AgroSciences data on file.
NutriSphere-N® is a trademark of Verdesian Life Sciences. N-Serve® and Instinct® are trademarks of Dow AgroSciences.

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