Are you ready for spring 2020? With harvest 2019 looming and the scars from this past spring still healing, spring 2020 is not at the forefront of our minds. One thing to consider as we approach these fields with the harvesters this fall would be to get some fertility done for next spring. This has many benefits, like the opportunity to choose better field conditions than spring sometimes affords. This can minimize compaction as well as give the soil a frost cycle to work some layers out.
Another benefit for applying fall fertilizer—it allows your phosphorus,
potassium, and sulfur time to work into the soil. Potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur move through the soil profile much slower than nitrogen. By applying your phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur in the fall, those nutrients should be in the root zone come spring.
Fall fertilizer is generally less expensive than in the spring. Last fall, potash was $32 less per ton than December prepay and $55 less per ton than it was on April 1st. The fall of 2017, potash was $24 less then December and $37 less than spring of 2018. Anhydrous in the fall of 2018 was $123 less than December and $145 less than spring. Finally, in 2017 fall fertilizer was $120 less than December and $144 less than spring. This is mostly due to more efficient logistics in the fall vs. the crunch we face every spring. To top it off, we don’t always know what we will face in the spring. This past spring there was legitimate scare that some acres weren’t going to get what they needed due to the Mississippi River not opening as usual.
Lastly the acres that have fall anhydrous and plowed down fertilizer applied are ready for the corn planter next spring. When the fields are ready, you can get in the fields with the planter right away vs. having to put on fertilizer first. This creates a bigger window to plant in a timely manner and in better field conditions.
Targeting Soil Fertility
Times are tight with current commodity prices, so getting the most efficient productivity out of every acre is on everyone’s mind now more than ever. At Allied Cooperative we have the technology and expertise to make fertilizer and lime recommendations based on multiple layers of data. This informed approach will enable you to put the right amount of product in the right place, which maximizes the impact of every dollar you spend.
Taking GPS-referenced soil samples (“grid sampling”) is a great base layer for managing fertility. Areas to be sampled can vary by field size from five acre to sub-acre grids. The number of acres encompassed in each GPS-referenced soil sample can vary from five acres to less than one acre, but smaller fields should have at least five sample points to draw information from. With this data, we can deliver variable-rate recommendations for lime, potash, or DAP.
For example, a field that calls for an average of 200 lbs/acre of potash might have areas that need as much as 275 lbs/acre or as little as 125 lbs/acre for the same crop and yield. If 200 lbs/acre was applied on every acre of this field, some acres would receive excess potassium while other acres would be deficient. In this way, you can see how putting the right amount of product down in each area of the fields makes sense not just from an environmental standpoint but from an economic sense as well.
Finally, if someone else soil samples your farm we can import that information into our software and get you rolling towards an optimal fertility regime. Contact your Allied Agronomy Advisor today for fall soil sampling and variable-rate recommendations!