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Starter Essential for Best No-Till Crop Yields

Posted on August 21, 2017

The Andersons Starter Essential for Best No-Till Crop Yields

Influence the outcome of no-till yields with PureGrade liquid starter fertilizer.

No-till farming methods have spread rapidly in many areas of the country. In some areas no-till is the now the 'conventional' way to farm. It saves fuel, labor, soil, water and provides a friendly environment for earthworms and symbiotic mycorrhiza. In addition, no-till improves soil nutrient cycling and helps the soil become a carbon sink to reduce polluting greenhouse gas releases from the soil.

Maintaining high no-till crop yields demands making management changes when compared to tillage systems. Many experts recommend that starter fertilizer be part of the fertility program for best no-till results.

There are disadvantages that directly impact fertility management that must be overcome with no-till practices. The two most important are:

  • Cooler soil temperatures under the crop residue. No-till soils tend to be wetter in the spring, an advantage in dryland farming, but it slows soil warm up. Roots grow more slowly in cold soils and this reduces exploration for nutrients like phosphorus.
  • Proper positioning of phosphorus (P) and other nutrients for efficient crop use since tillage is not used to distribute fertilizer in the root zone. Phosphorus doesn't move much from where it is placed. However, that can be an advantage when banding P in-furrow. Young roots will be growing into an area that has a high concentration of P. PureGrade liquid starter fertilizers like GoldStart and Season Pass are made for banding into or close to the seed furrow.

Since P doesn't move, we like to see a portion (10-15 lbs P2O5 ) of the total application placed in-furrow where the first roots can gain access. Additional P needs can be applied in a deeper band or broadcasted. Banding is the preferred method of P application to reduce soil fixation and increase P concentration in the root area. Roots can take up surface applied broadcast P later in the growing season when the surface soil is moist.

Banding phosphorus in the seed furrow, or very near to it, is a better way for corn, grain sorghum, wheat and other crops to access nutrients in both no-till and tillage farming. In a no-till fertilizer placement study at Kansas State University, only a few pounds of phosphorus placed in the seed furrow provided excellent results. The seed placed P was quickly absorbed into the root system because it was in the right place at the right time.

In the experiment in Table 1, only 8 pounds/acre of P2O5 was applied. This requires only 3 gallons per acre of GoldStart 6-24-6, for example, to be placed in-furrow. Most growers are applying 4-6 gallons per acre because soils vary across the field.

Table 1. Phosphorus Placement and Yield

PureGrade liquid starter fertilizers from The Andersons are easy to use and have a lower viscosity than many other liquid fertilizers. They pump easily and accurately at lower temperatures during the spring planting rush. Available planter kits for application of liquid fertilizer make it easy to apply PureGrade liquid fertilizers in-furrow.

PureGrade liquid fertilizers and no-till farming make an excellent marriage. For quick uptake of nutrients as soon as the roots begin growing, band a PureGrade starter product in or close to the seed furrow.


Click here for the complete list of PureGrade liquid starter fertilizers.


Contact us today for help selecting the right product for your needs.

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