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070419stackhouse800.jpg Kyle Stackhouse
I had a role of paper towel in the sprayer and I wanted to see where the spray solution was going. As you can see in the photo, that spray band is right over the plant.

Can we make micronutrients more efficient?

We’re learning which micros can be front-loaded and stay available in the soil

Micronutrients are probably one of the least understood pieces of the crop production agronomic puzzle. One farm operation may use none, the next will use a little, and the third…. well, farm one and two would think he’s crazy.

Pricing of the products varies as much as farmer adoption of use. There are so many brands and mixes, it is easy to get lost in what you are buying. Worse yet, few farmers ‘take it to yield’ to determine if there is an economic return. I recently asked some retailers for product X. Price quotes were as much as 200% difference!

Our farm is probably on the verge of falling into the third category. We’re doing our best to learn more about the role each micronutrient plays as well as how much each crop needs of that nutrient. (I’ve found a nice cheat sheet from Nachurs showing the role of each nutrient). 

We’re learning which micros can be front-loaded and stay available in the soil. We’re also learning which ones are just better to apply foliar. We use many different brands and vendors and lean on strip tests and tissue samples to show which ones have positive ROI.

Pricey cocktails

Micronutrient cocktails can get pricey. In an effort to improve efficiency we purchased 25-degree banding spray nozzles. When the corn is small, a broadcast application puts most of the product on the soil which may or may not find its way into the plant. The foliar application is meant to give an instant boost to the plant. We want as much of the product on the plant as possible, and these banding nozzles have done the trick. I can spray a 12-15” wide band and hit the heart of the plant. I could probably start to trim back the nutrient rates, but I’ve been hesitant so far.

I know the demonstration method is a bit crude, but as farmers we improvise. I had a role of paper towel in the sprayer and I wanted to see where the spray solution was going. As you can see in the photo, that spray band is right over the plant.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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