Getting the Right
Elements in Place
School's back in session and it's time to harken back to chemistry class to determine what important elements are needed in the fields. What comes into play for next year's crops: S, P, K, Ca, N?
Fall application of any fertilizer or lime requires knowing what's already in the soil. As Federated agronomists say over and over, "Take soil samples." Don't rely on samples that are more than four years old (university recommended).
Soil sampling is fastest and easiest before fall tillage when "you can drive around the fields in your pickup or on a four-wheeler, and not have to bounce across the field," said Gustafson. Plus, soils are drier in the fall, and there's less soil compaction.
With soil sample results in hand, it's relatively easy to determine the right elements to apply.
S and Ca
- Especially for growers rotating to corn in 2018, "Consider applying gypsum this fall," said John Swanson, Federated Agronomist at the Ogilvie location. "Gypsum is not a liming agent," he said, "but it does provide 21% calcium (Ca) and it is a great source of season-long sulfur (S) at 17%. Gypsum is not as slow release as elemental S, but it is not as fast and leachable as AMS, and thus is a great option for corn, but it's also good for soybeans and alfalfa, "both of which respond well to S and Ca." said Swanson.
Gypsum (more info in article below) is also great product to apply in the fall with:
P and K
- By applying phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the fall, "the only thing left for spring is the N (nitrogen), "said Rod Gustafson, Federated agronomist at the Albertville location. "You'll also get more acres out of a spreader load come spring," he added, when only N (and probably S) needs to go down because the other elements were applied in the fall. It's a logistically wise choice.
"Fall is also the time for lime," said Gustafson. Federated does liming in the fall when there are no road restrictions and other fertilizer applications aren't pressing. Come spring, the demand on everyone's time intensifies. Apply lime in the fall and be ready for spring.
Autumn is also a good time to do grid soil sampling and
move into variable rate (VR) fertilizer applications. Getting the soil maps compiled sets the stage for both VRT application in the fall and planting in the spring.
"The biggest thing [about fall fertilizer application] is labor saving," said Gustafson, who observed that growers who do fall fertilizer applications continue to do it in subsequent years, "because they see the advantage of it."
Contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions about fall fertilization, or to get started with VRT on your farm.
Add Gypsum to Fall Fertilization Plans
Gypsum offers benefits beyond sulfur and calcium (see article above) as a fall fertilizer option. "Gypsum helps improve soil structure, which leads to better seed-to-soil contact," said John Swanson, Federated agronomist at the Ogilvie location, adding there are also long-term benefits to gypsum applications:
- reduces crusting and improves germination;
- does not reduce soil pH because it is net neutral (unlike AMS, which is acidic);
- improves water use efficiency;
- helps prevent water logging in soils;
- helps plants absorb nutrients;
- decreases the bulk density (compaction) of the soil;
- increases crop rooting depth;
- decreases N losses to the air.
Additionally, gypsum's impact on the soil properties can help decrease the incidence of white mold, a significant issue this year (see article below).
Federated recommends Gypsoil™ Blendable, a consistent durable gypsum pellet that can be simply blended with other fertilizers for consistent application. "Talk to your local Federated Agronomist," said Swanson, "for more information and crop-specific use rates, as well as soil amendment use rates based on your soils."
One of the most common questions right now, according to Kevin Carlson, Federated's senior agronomist, is what to do about white mold.
"The conditions were pretty good for white mold to develop this year - cool and wet," said Carlson. "That's the environment white mold needs," he added. The white mold is coming on late, but the soybean crop is a little bit behind. Normally, the beans are getting close to finishing now, but they aren't yet this year.
"White mold is going to take some yield," said Carlson, because once it's in the field, it's very difficult to manage - and it isn't possible to get rid of it for this season's crop.
Carlson said Federated agronomists have seen varying levels of white mold progression in fields across Federated's service area, but it's important to identify fields that have it.
Management practices can help control white mold, as challenging as it is.
First, pick varieties that are tolerant to white mold. "This is a critical first step," said Carlson, even as growers choose next year's varieties.
Second, plant soybeans with wider rows and slightly lower populations to reduce the canopy. (But then pay attention to weed issues that can arise because of the reduced canopy - "it's a balancing act,"said Carlson.)
Third, consider preventative fungicide applications (at the time of flowering) to help reduce the incidence of white mold. (However, the fungicides "are not a silver bullet," Carlson noted.)
Carlson also recommended a fourth management tool: Spray Contans WG, an older biological product, in the fall. Contans WG controls the white mold sclerotia in the soil as it germinates (see
Contans WG fact sheet
And finally, continue to rotate crops. This is an important management practice that doesn't eliminate the incidence of white mold, but it can help.
2017 Discovery Plots Days Wrap Up, with Thanks
Thanks to a great team of growers and Discovery Plot cooperators, Federated was once again able to offer bottom line value to growers across our service area. A special thank you to the following Discovery Plot cooperators:
Paul & Janet Bostrom Farm - Isanti
Lenneman Farms - St. Michael
Doug & Lori Lezer Farm - Sauk Rapids
Cramaur Farms - Rush City
Nathan & Sue Nelson Farm - Hinckley
Steffen Farms - Ogilvie
Larry & Sharon Wilhelm Farm - Princeton
Craig, Janet, & Neil Gustafson Farm - Osceola
"Discovery Plots are another example of Federated's commitment to provide local information to you, our customers," said Craig Gustafson, Federated's eastern area agronomy manager. The plots provide real-time, true-to-the-farm information that sharpens the knowledge base of the Federated agronomy team.
The plot days were very well attended and included group interaction, good discussions on crop protection product choices, crop management and planning, and the tools for effective weed control.
Watch the Agronomy Update for Discovery Plot reports as the crops are harvested and various product research trials are assessed.
Thank you once again to everyone who attended a Discovery Plot tour. If you were unable to attend, you can contact your local Federated Agronomy location to arrange a tour of your nearest plot.
Federated Agronomists Kevin Carlson and John Swanson discussed
of crop management at this year's Discovery Plot Days.