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Best options for applying P and K for maintenance

Best options for applying P and K for maintenance
Agronomists discuss ways to get fertilizer on the field besides fall broadcast applications.

One route some say they're taking this fall is to cut out broadcasting phosphorus and potassium and just shoot for maintenance levels instead. That means that the idea behind broadcast applications was to build soil test levels, and you've made the decision you can't afford to do that this year with super-tight margins.

Related: Tight Farm Budgets May Call for P, K and Lime Adjustments

How can you apply next spring to get the most bang out of your bucks if you choose to invest in P and K fertilizer?

"Spread in the spring to get as much value out of it as you can," recommends Danny Greene, owner of Greene Crop Consulting, Inc., Franklin. He is also an Indiana Certified Crop Adviser.

Apply now or later: You could use this combination fertilizer and lime spreader from Dalton, also a new product found at fall farm shows, to apply P and K next spring. Or you could opt to apply P and K as starter if rates don't have to be too high.

Some are asking if they could even just put P and K on as starter at planting to save another trip over the field.

"As long as application rates aren't high enough to burn crops, applying a starter band could be more effective," Greene says. That's because of the proximity of the fertilizer to the roots, and because the fertilizer will be in a concentrated band.

Bryan Overstreet, Purdue University Extension educator in Jasper County, says you should consider the type of soils in the field before deciding when it makes sense to apply. He is also a CCA.

"If you have cation exchange capacity levels lower than 10, I wouldn't apply K in the fall," he says. "If you have a CEC value higher than 10, you could apply if you want to do so.

"The problem with low CEC values and fall applications of potassium is that since the soil can't latch on to as much, the K could leach," he says.

"If your soil test values are low, putting it on with the starter fertilizer would be a good option if you have the equipment to do that."

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