When it comes to soil fertility, there are many pieces of the puzzle that interact and interfere with our ability to understand what is exactly going on within our soil. Plant tissue sampling, which has been widely implemented by retailers across the Midwest region, is just one way to gather insights from soil fertility efforts on fields.
Evaluating inputs is an important process when planning crop management practices year-over-year. While a majority of that time is spent evaluating varieties of seeds and planting options, an important input that needs to also be evaluated is the soil.
Being Minnesota weather is as variable as the soils across the state, utilizing the nutrients in the soil is something farmers are tasked with each year. With nitrogen being arguably the most important nutrient when it pertains to corn growth, there is much debate as to when to apply nitrogen and how to optimize the availability of this nutrient during the important stages of growth.
As commodity prices fluctuate, and input costs continue to rise, calculating the most economically advantageous fertilizer rates for typical Minnesota crop rotations becomes increasingly complex. Optimal fertilizer rates are those that not only increase the quality and yield of grains and forage, but also balance cost effectively to allow a healthy profit margin for the grower.
Fluctuating fertilizer prices can make decisions on the management of nutrients, especially phosphorus (P), challenging. Across Minnesota, soils can differ in their relative potential to retain or fix phosphorus. That’s an important variable to know, because it directly correlates to availability of the nutrient for the plant.
©2019 Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council of Minnesota