Why You Should Plan to Use a Balanced Starter Fertilizer

Darrin Holder
Agronomist, WinField United
To get crops off to a strong start, you need to provide adequate nutrition from day one. A growing body of research demonstrates that using a starter fertilizer is the best way to do that, especially in the cooler soils common with reduced-tillage.
 
As you plan your 2018 corn crop budget, consider including a balanced starter fertilizer, if you don’t already. Starters could help deliver key benefits with season-long impact:
 
Faster, more uniform emergence is common with in-furrow starter fertilizer use because seeds have immediate access to essential macro and micronutrients. Faster germination and uniform emergence leads to a better crop stand, which is key to helping maximize yield potential.
 
OptiStart® balanced starter fertilizer includes not only the macronutrients of standard starters, but has the added benefit of micronutrients in one formulation to help get plants out of the ground faster for optimal, more uniform establishment and robust plant vigor under all types of conditions. Applied in-furrow or 2x2, OptiStart® fertilizer offers corn crops accessible nutrients for root and plant growth potential at the start, until they are able to source nutrients from the soil.
 
Better root development more likley occur with adequate early nutrition. Field observations have shown that corn planted with a balanced starter fertilizer such as OptiStart® had visually bigger roots after just 15 days and noticeably more root mass after four weeks.* A starter fertilizer can also help to overcome slow root growth in cool soils.
 
The benefits of bigger, more extensive root growth can carry through the season to improve stalk strength potential and reduce lodging.
 
Balanced nutrition is as important for plants as it is for humans. Balanced starter fertilizers can help deliver the right amount of key macro and micronutrients, making them immediately available to seedlings. Along with N, P and K, sulfur is needed for chlorophyll production and protein formation. The most common micronutrients in starter fertilizers are zinc for leaf growth and root development; manganese for chlorophyll production and nitrogen utilization; and boron for proper cell division, carbohydrate use and water utilization.
 
Balanced nutrition also helps increase a young plant’s ability to deal with stress from environmental and pest pressures. The stronger the seedling, the better the chance for a strong crop.
 
Maximizing yield potential requires minimizing plant stress. But today’s high-population plant environments create additional stress for young plants. Research shows that 1,000 corn plants produce 5 to 7 bushels of corn. The early-season loss of just a few plants per 1,000 can add up to significant per-acre lost yield potential. Proper early nutrition is essential to maximizing yield potential.
 
Consider an in-furrow balanced starter fertilizer as a form of crop insurance.
 
*Because of factors outside of Winfield Solutions' control, such as weather, product application, and any other factors, results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Winfield Solutions. Results are based upon controlled test and field trials. Actual results may vary.
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