A successful farm management plan starts with choosing the right seed (and its respective placement) for each of your fields. While seed might seem like the most important factor in the recipe for success, there’s more to the story.
Without a well-crafted soil fertility plan, you’re setting your seed up for failure. Lack of proper nutrients in your soil increases the chances of nutrient deficiencies in your crop during the growing season. Here’s how to avoid those deficiencies – and keep them from robbing your yield.
Step 1: Soil Sampling
The first action you should take is to evaluate your soil’s fertility in its current state. To properly do so, you’ll want to get a soil test on each of your fields. Soil testing usually is performed in two different ways: zone or grid sampling. No matter the method you choose, the soil test will evaluate nutrient amounts readily available in your soil – some of which could be limiting your yield.
Step 2: Read Your Results
Once your soil test results are in, you’ll be able to evaluate nutrient levels (usually in ppm) for primary nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus) and many of the secondary nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Recommended soil test levels for each region and sampling type differ. But ideal primary nutrient levels are as follows:
- Nitrogen: Optimum levels are related to the previous year’s N credit
- Phosphorus: 30 ppm or higher (below 18 ppm is considered deficient)
- Potassium: 250 ppm or higher (below 150 ppm is considered deficient)
Although the primary nutrients are the most important when it comes to corn and soybean growth, you’ll also want to ensure secondary nutrients are present in their required amounts. Proper levels of each nutrient aids in overall crop success, ultimately securing yields that win.
Step 3: Adjust Nutrient Levels
Now that you’ve determined which nutrients you’ll need to supplement, you’ll want to make fertilizer applications that enhance your soil levels. The Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations Guide and other state-specific fertilizer guides can help you determine proper nutrient levels necessary for corn and soybeans during the growing season, the amount of fertilizer needed to reach those levels, and recommendations for what type of fertilizer to use.
In addition, proper timing of fertilizer and nutrient applications are crucial in ensuring both the soil and crop can properly keep and uptake the nutrients you add. Reach out to your AgriGold agronomist for more information or assistance on finding your state-specific recommendations.
Step 4: Put Your Boots on the Ground
After you make your applications and your crop is in the heart of its growing season, it’s time to get out in your fields to keep an eye on those nutrients. Checking for nutrients can look like many things, depending on your soil test results and nutrient applications. If you added nitrogen, you can check for deficiency symptoms, perform tissue or stalk sampling, or perform a chlorophyll meter test.
If your soil test determined your need for secondary nutrients, your best bet is to scout your fields and look for deficiency signs. Whether you’re scouting on foot or using aerial machinery (such as drones), take into account your hybrid or variety type, any chemical applications, and growing season conditions before determining whether a foliar symptom is because of a nutrient deficiency. Bring in your AgriGold agronomist for another set of eyes to determine the root cause of an issue.
In the end, effective nutrient management promotes crop productivity and soil fertility. Don’t let something you can control be a limiting factor next season. Reach out to your AgriGold agronomist to review your nutrient management plan, or to help craft one that aligns with your goals.