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Agronomy Update January 2020

Posted by Dave Dyson, Agronomist on January 09, 2020

The Andersons Agronomy Update: July 2018

By Dave Dyson, Agronomist

As we look back at the 2019 growing season and begin preparations for 2020, a question we would like to ask is “are you putting product exactly where it needs to be in order to effectively deliver nutrients to the plant?” This question comes about as we take a brief look at the advancement of precision agriculture. 

The technology in application equipment continues to become more precise. Along with these advancements, fertilizer is also progressing to keep pace and ensure the right nutrients are placed at the right rate, time, and place. With the improvements of in-furrow planters, a low rate of fertilizer can be placed directly on the seed, in a form immediately available for the plant to use. 

Our advice to use “Precise Products for Precision Placement” includes using a PureGrade® low-salt starter fertilizer, such as our new Season Pass with MicroCarb ZMB, to help achieve three main goals:

1. Faster emergence

2. Earlier pollination

3. Quicker dry down at harvest

In an article from May 2019, “Three Objectives for Using a Starter Fertilizer”, Agronomist Dave Dyson predicted the “Triple Threat” for the 2019 planting season: late planting, slow and restricted root growth, and reduced nutrient uptake. The application of a starter fertilizer helped mitigate the situation. As late planting progressed, growers benefited from corn’s quicker emergence as a result of using a starter fertilizer.     

The Andersons’ research shows even in a late planting year, such as 2019, a return on investment is still achieved when using a low-salt starter fertilizer. The test plot at Walton, Indiana, was not planted until June 8th due to wet weather. Corn emerged 3-5 days sooner with the application of an Andersons PureGrade starter during planting. Earlier emergence resulted in corn plants being one leaf stage ahead of corn plants that received no starter, Figures 1 and 2. As the season progressed, we continued to see corn advance through the growth stages at a faster pace where starter fertilizer was applied at planting versus where no starter was applied. Pollination occurred seven days sooner compared to the untreated check, Figure 3. Achieving quicker pollination is key so that pollen shed will happen earlier before the hot and dry parts of summer can degrade either the silks or the pollen itself.

Figure 1: This picture was taken west of Kokomo, Indiana, on June 28, 2019. This shows a height difference between no starter applied on the left of the spade and 5gal/ac of a PureGrade low-salt 100% orthophosphate starter fertilizer applied in-furrow at planting to the right of the spade.

Figure 2: This picture was taken west of Kokomo, Indiana, on June 28, 2019. When a PureGrade low-salt 100% orthophosphate starter fertilizer was applied at 5gal/ac in-furrow at planting, the corn plant advanced one leaf stage ahead of the check by the 5th leaf stage.

Figure 3: This picture was taken west of Kokomo, Indiana, on August 3, 2019. The left side was the check with no starter application; the right side had 5gal/ac of a PureGrade low-salt 100% orthophosphate starter fertilizer applied in-furrow at planting. The check with no starter had delayed pollination by 7-10 days.

In conclusion, the utilization of a low-salt starter fertilizer will help achieve three main goals: faster emergence, earlier pollination, and quicker dry down at harvest. These goals were achieved even during the challenging growing season of 2019. Contact your representative from The Andersons for more information about using a starter for the 2020 crop season.

By Jessica Stacy, Product Specialist

Every year, we conduct research in order to prove the value of our current products. Below are the results from a field-scale replicated trial located in Walton, Indiana testing GoldStart® 6-24-6


In this trial, GoldStart 6-24-6 was applied at a rate of 5gal/acre. Compared to the untreated check, GoldStart 6-24-6 yielded a 7.79 bu/acre advantage.

In the same trial, the treatment of GoldStart 6-24-6 was over 1% drier than the untreated check at harvest.


Please complete the form, and we’ll get you in touch with your Territory Manager from The Andersons. 

©2020 The Andersons, Inc. All rights reserved. PureGrade and Goldstart are registered trademarks of The Andersons, Inc. MicroCarb ZMB is a trademark of The Andersons, Inc.

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