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This Could Be the Year To Apply Phosphate, Potash

This Could Be the Year To Apply Phosphate, Potash
There are several fertilizer strategies to consider if your soil test levels are in good shape

Suppose you have a field where you haven't applied phosphorus or potassium for two years because soil test levels showed that the nutrients tested high to very high. Can you get by another year without applying these nutrients?

Most experts agree that the answer is yes. You probably could, and would not impact yields. That assumes that levels were truly high or higher and that the field was uniform, free of lower testing spots. How much confidence you have in that reading may depend upon how comfortable you are with the accuracy of your soil testing program.

Spread or wait another year? Even if your soil test levels are in good shape, you may decide it's a good investment to broadcast P and K yet this spring rather than wait.

However, some believe skipping the application for another year might not be the best option in every situation. Greg Kneubuhler, G & K Concepts, Harlan, says you need to understand that crop removal will eventually catch up with you.

"Keep in mind that the nutrition needs to be replaced at some point," he says. "That's true whether it's this year or next year. I'm always an advocate of applying when you can to keep levels in check rather than playing catch up later."

Others say this might be a good year because relative to crop price that you could lock in now, fertilizer prices are cheaper than they might be at some point in the future. They're listening to ag economists who suggest that sooner or later, crop prices will become more variable and won't always hold at current levels, which historically are high.

If you're going to apply P and K this spring, starter fertilizer is one way to do it.

"I'm always an advocate of starter fertilizer applications regardless of soil test levels," Kneubuhler says. "We've seen enough consistent advantage to starter, especially nitrogen, that we would recommend starter."

Be careful of applying rates high in N or K is you're doing in-furrow applications instead of two-inch by two-inch placement. Seedling injury can occur if the salt level from the fertilizer placed near the seed is too high.

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