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Organics: October Organics Update

Posted by Sierra Dice, Organic Agronomy Consultant on October 10, 2022

As we have started getting crops off, fertilizer has been a hot topic; not only in the combine but in the news as well. With the continuing natural gas issues in Europe, we see many nitrogen producers in the United States and Canada sending domestic supply overseas, leaving the remaining supply here higher priced. We have seen when conventional fertilizer gets this high, non-organic farmers start buying organic fertilizers like chicken litter and hog manure. Because of this, we have to search OMRI approved ways to get more nitrogen for crops. A great place to start is cover crops.

Growing cover crops like peas, vetches, clovers and beans can help provide nitrogen in the root zone. These types of legumes fix nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants and soil. These legumes form a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia in the soil, taking gaseous nitrogen and converting it to a form plants can use. By using a legume cover crop, we can supplement some nitrogen to our crops to help them meet their nutrient needs. The longer legumes actively grow, the more pounds of N the plant can make.

Since we can’t source all our nitrogen needs from cover crops, we need to consider  secondary and third sources. Corteva makes a product called Utrisha N that I tested this past summer. Utrisha N is a biological product that is sprayed on crops in a post-emergence pass during the growing season. The biologicals in Utrisha N actively grow on the leaf tissue surface and fix nitrogen from the atmosphere for the plant. My customers that have tried it have had positive experiences and are seeing a decent return on investment. Another good source of nitrogen would be from an OMRI approved row starter when planting or at side dress like our PureStart® row starter or Chilean nitrate (for those who are able to use it).

I understand when supply becomes tight and the markets seem unsteady it can seem daunting to plan the next crop year. Don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or your trusted  advisor from The Andersons to assist you in making crop planning choices to help decrease some of that stress.

Sierra Dice is an agronomy consultant and organic account representative for The Andersons Retail Farm Centers. A graduate of Purdue University, Sierra studied agribusiness and agronomy. She has worked in ag retail for 10 years and has responsibility for organic product sales with The Andersons in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. If you have questions related to organics, Sierra can be reached at

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