Improving N Utilization

Nitrogen fertilizer is subject to losses due to volatilization, denitrification, and leaching.  The severity of loss is often dependent on soil moisture, temperature, and the placement of nitrogen in the soil.  Many liquid fertilizers contain three forms of nitrogen – urea ((NH2)2CO), ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-).  Most plants can utilize the ammonium and nitrate forms of nitrogen, although the biological processes in the soil work to convert nitrogen to the nitrate form.  Nitrate is the most susceptible to loss through leaching.

High NRG-N is an advanced technology nitrogen product containing stabilized urea, ammoniacal, and nitrate nitrogen.  The proprietary Flavanol technology used to formulate High NRG-N controls the conversion of urea to ammonium thus mitigating losses from leaching and volatilization.  The result is a controlled, steady supply of nitrogen to meet season long crop needs while using less volume than with conventional fertilizer sources.  High NRG-N does not inhibit biological activity in the soil.

eNhance is a nutritional supplement that amends the urea and ammonium portions of UAN solutions to reduce the amount of ammonium converted to nitrate.  That reduces volatility and denitrification, making nitrogen available to the plant as it is needed.  eNhance also works within the plant to aid in nutrient transport, making other nutrients that enter the plant more efficient.

Traditional nitrogen “stabilizers” are used to prevent nitrogen loss so their use can be considered an insurance policy.  If soil and environmental conditions are not conducive to nitrogen loss there would be no benefit to the addition of those stabilizers.  However, High NRG-N or eNhance improves the utilization of nitrogen in the plant and are not dependent on soil and environmental conditions.  Adding eNhance to UAN solution allows the user to reduce the rate of fertilizer and maintain yields, or use the full rate of fertilizer and have the potential for higher yields than achieved by UAN without eNhance.

In contrast, most nitrogen stabilizers on the market today inhibit the biological processes in the soil that convert nitrogen into the nitrate form.  Urease inhibitors, such as Agrotain® inhibit the enzyme urease that is produced by many soil bacteria, preventing the formation of ammonia (NH3).  Nitrification inhibitors such as N-Serve®, eNtrench®, Agrotain®Plus, and Instinct® inhibit the activity of the soil bacteria Nitrosomonas, preventing the conversion of NH4+ to NO3.

Unlike traditional nitrogen stabilizers that inhibit biological activity in the soil, eNhance works within the plant, fortifying the crop’s physiology to more efficiently utilize applied nitrogen.   eNhance is not a traditional nitrogen stabilizer, but as the name implies, it enhances UAN fertilizer performance.

Agrotain® and Agrotain®Plus is a registered trademark of Koch Fertilizers.

N-Serve®, eNtrench® and Instinct® are registered trademarks of Dow AgroScience.

Micronutrients’ Role

Of the essential nutrients plants must have to grow, eight are referred to as micronutrients. While plants use micronutrients in very small amounts, they are just as essential for plant growth as primary (N, P, and K) and secondary (S, Ca, and Mg) nutrients. Any one of them can limit growth and even cause plant death when deficient.

Micronutrient deficiencies can be difficult to recognize because they resemble other problems. For instance in corn, manganese deficiency produces yellowing, which can look like a sulfur deficiency or even be confused with nitrogen deficiency. Often tissue testing can determine the cause, but it is best to have a good soil test so any problems can be addressed ahead of seeing nutrient deficiency symptoms.

Why are micronutrient deficiencies increasingly being seen in the soil:

  • Increased yields due to various technologies means higher removal of micronutrients from the soil.
  • Some micronutrients are no longer contained in high analysis fertilizers and fertilizer materials.
  • Any type of land preparation which results in the removal of several inches of topsoil can result in a deficiency of certain micronutrients on the cut areas.
  • High phosphorus levels can induce micronutrient deficiencies.

(Midwest Laboratories Agronomy Handbook)

Micro 500™ is a precision balanced combination of five essential micronutrients: zinc, manganese, iron, copper and boron. Utilizing Flavonol Polymer Technology, Micro 500™ provides the benefit of a synergistic combination of micronutrients, and should be considered when a specific micronutrient deficiency has not been established. Each crop grown has minimum requirements of certain micronutrients in specific proportion to each other. The formulation of Micro 500™ is designed to fill those requirements and should be used in most cropping programs. These nutrients are synergistic. Growers get better uptake and response from a micronutrient in Micro 500 than if they apply an equal volume of a nutrient alone. In addition, having this combination available is helpful in pockets of a field where a grower might be unaware that a particular nutrient is lacking. Trials show that AgroLiquid micronutrients perform better than dry micros because applicators can place them in a root zone band (in furrow or near the seed). Micro 500 also offer better results compared with other conventional EDTA-chelated micronutrients.

Check out AgroLiquid’s MicroLink family of products for all of your micronutrient needs. Do you have questions? Contact an AgroLiquid representative today!

AgroLiquid on Rural America LIVE

AgroLiquid’s goal is to prosper the farmer while safeguarding the environment. Learn how they are different from any other fertilizer company in the industry today as experts discuss details about their line of high-performance fertilizers formulated with scientifically based recommendations to help growers achieve the best possible production yields while employing sustainable agricultural practices.

Salt Index

NO!

If salt index isn’t a good predictor of fertilizer injury to many crops  — what should be considered when selecting a fertilizer?

There has been a lot of discussion about the term “salt index” and what it means with regard to crop safety for fertilizers. When synthetic fertilizers were first becoming prominent in the marketplace one of the concerns was the crop safety that each product provided and how that related to where a product should or shouldn’t be placed. The term “salt index” was used to help describe the relative safety of fertilizer products – both liquid and dry.  Over the years, the term salt index has been used for a variety of things, some that make sense, and some that were, perhaps, not technically accurate.

In order to understand salt index it is important to understand what is meant by the term “salt.” A salt is any chemical compound that is composed of a positively charged ion and a negatively charged ion. When most of us hear the word salt we tend to think of sodium chloride, or table salt. Sodium chloride is a salt, but it is not a common component of fertilizers.

The question is often asked about how much salt fertilizers have. In strict chemical terms fertilizers ARE salts. One of the more recognizable fertilizer formulas is K-Cl, or potassium chloride. That compound is 0-0-60 potash. The potassium component is a positive ion and the chloride component is a negative ion. That fertilizer, along with all others, are salts.

Why was the concept of salt index developed?  The original intent was to develop a scale, or index, of the potential for a fertilizer to cause crop injury. The actual numbers reported can be measured values using electrical conductance tests, or can be calculated values based on product components. It is easy to see how different analysis methods can give different index values, so comparing the salt index of various products is problematic unless the products were all measured (not calculated) using the exact same methods.

Is the salt index number of any value when describing the potential for fertilizer injury?  Not as much as it used to. Some literature suggests that fertilizers with salt indexes above 20 should not be applied near the seed of sensitive crops. Commodity fertilizer products such as potash or DAP are well known to cause crop injury when placed too close to a sensitive seed. Some liquid fertilizers, such as 10-34-0 or 6-18-6, can be applied in-furrow to certain crops but with significant rate restrictions. Newer technology products – including many AgroLiquid products – are safe for in-furrow application to many crops, including some products that have salt index values higher than 20.

If salt index is not a good predictor of fertilizer injury to many crops what should be considered when selecting a fertilizer? First and foremost, crop safety and performance of AgroLiquid products should be the focus of any discussion. AgroLiquid product crop safety and performance claims are backed up by over 20 years of research and field experiences, and don’t need to be justified by a laboratory value.

When selecting fertilizer products and application placement it is important to use the best agronomic practices for the product, crop, and row spacing. Corn and soybeans, for example, have different limitations on what rates certain AgroLiquid products can be applied in-furrow or as a foliar spray. Some of the vegetable crops, on the other hand, should not have in-furrow applications of AgroLiquid products at planting.  In addition to the product itself there are several environmental conditions that need to be taken into account when determining crop safety risks. Soil environmental conditions play a large role in crop response to fertilizer products, with colder, dryer soil conditions having a higher potential for adverse crop response compared to a warmer, moist soil. Foliar applications have additional issues to consider with regard to crop safety and performance. Crop growth stage is a very important factor in the safety and performance of foliar fertilizer applications.  Tank mix partners and surfactants may also play a role in safety and performance. When tank mixing with crop protection products it is important to READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS of the pesticides. Pay special attention to tank mix restrictions and compatibility testing instructions on the pesticide label.

Reminders about salt index

How it relates to AgroLiquid products:

Don’t worry about absolute numbers.  Methodology, test conditions, and the products tested all influence the index value that is reported. Also, don’t get caught up in salt index comparisons with other products.

Do consider the safety, flexibility and performance of AgroLiquid products, and the research plus field experiences that prove performance.

Do select and apply fertilizers based on sound agronomic practices. Consider what crops, application methods, tank mix partners, and environmental conditions are present when making fertilizer decisions.

Research Supports Future Growth: Dr Jerry- K 2

AgroLiquid Senior Research Manager, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses spring-applied potassium for corn in this short video. Dr. Jerry briefly explains how Muriate of Potash can be an effective soil amendment when soil test K levels are low. He discusses timing of application of broadcast potash, and explains why Sure-K is the best option if you need to feed this season’s corn.

Potassium Management in Potatoes

Potassium Management Challenge

How do you manage Potassium in potatoes?

Potatoes use more potassium than any other nutrient – including nitrogen. Potassium (K) is required for nutrient movement in the potato plant. It is essential for the makeup of over 40 different enzymes and is involved in more than 60 different enzyme systems in plants. Potassium is also important in the formation of sugars and starches in plants. All crops that produce a large amount of carbohydrates (sugars) such as cotton, almonds, alfalfa, grapes, cherries, peaches, and especially potatoes, require large amounts of potassium. Specifically in potatoes, potassium influences tuber size, specific gravity, susceptibility to blackspot bruise, after-cooking darkening, reducing sugar content, fry color, and storage quality.

Potassium is crucial in quality potato formation as it promotes synthesis of photosynthates and their transport to the tubers. This enhances their conversion into starch, protein and vitamins. A deficiency of potassium affects many metabolic processes, like the rate of photosynthesis, the rate of translocation and enzyme systems. At the same time, the rate of dark respiration is increased. The result is a reduction in plant growth and in crop quality. K influences on quality can also be indirect as a result of its positive interaction with other nutrients (especially with N). Potassium is also used by plants to regulate the process of opening and closing the stomatal openings of their leaves. That process influences water use efficiency and carbon dioxide use in the plant. Potassium’s influence on cell turgor pressure and water relations in the plant helps the plants resist the effects of drought and temperature extremes, and aids resistance to many plant diseases

Depending on soil type, 90-98% of total soil potassium is unavailable. Feldspars and micas are clays that contain large amounts of potassium, but plants cannot use the nutrient if it is trapped between the layers of those clays. In persistently dry soils, potassium remains unavailable, as there is no water film surrounding the soil particles. Over time, these minerals break down, and the potassium is released. However, this process is too slow to provide crops the amount of potassium needed for optimal yield.

Typically only 1-2% conventional potassium fertilizers applied to the soil is available at one time.

Plants lacking in potassium often display various signs of deficiencies, the most common being discoloration of the older leaves on the plant as compared to the younger leaves on the plant. The stem on affected tissue usually appears weak and is slender in size compared to healthy tissue. Other deficiency signs include inward curling of leaves, discolored leaf tips and marginal scorching. Another common sign of potassium stress is abnormally short internode length. A crop deficient in potassium may also display signs of various crop diseases.

As an essential major nutrient for crop production, potassium needs to be available to the plant at all stages of growth. Most potassium found in soils is unavailable to the plant, therefore the nutrient may need to be supplied to the crop via fertilizer.

The need for potassium can and should be determined from soil and plant tissue analysis. Management recommendations for potassium in potato crops vary by region and specific soil conditions. It is often beneficial to split applications of potassium to match the optimal times of plant uptake in order to increase yield potential and quality. Proper potassium management can increase disease and pest resistance. In addition, this management practice can improve soil quality for sustainability, resulting in an overall increase in productivity.

You can provide the potassium your potato crop needs, when it needs it, by using the most efficient potassium nutrient products on the market: Kalibrate and Sure-K. These products provide available potassium to the plant at the right times in the growth cycle.

Kalibrate applied at planting time or side-dress is taken up from the soil along the length of young roots, particularly by root hairs. Potassium is transported in all directions between plant organs in response to metabolic demand. Kalibrate also contains 6% sulfur – also an essential nutrient for potatoes.

Sure-K as a foliar application or fertigation enables the flexibility to provide available potassium, which is actively taken up by plant tissues. Sure-K enters the plant more effectively than conventional potassium fertilizers and has excellent crop safety. Once in the plant, Sure-K is rapidly transported and redistributed to areas of greatest metabolic demand. Sure-K can also be mixed with crop protection products, reducing the number of passes on the field.

Save time. Save money. Increase productivity.

That’s why Real Producers Trust AgroLiquid.

K_Challenge
Check out the AgroLiquid Potassium Challenge

Sustainable Soil Health

 “A Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We have learned some harsh lessons about how to treat our soil. While most of us are aware of the problems of the past, some agricultural operations in the world are not heeding those lessons.

We all know that healthy soil is essential to feed the ever-increasing population of the world. However, industrial agriculture practices continue to damage and deplete our natural resources – of which soil ranks among the top. These practices have caused reductions in soil productivity due to soil loss through erosion and changes in the nutritional balances in soil.  This has resulted in nutrient depletion and increased our dependence on synthetic fertilizers. Because of the low efficiency of many commercial fertilizers we have over-applied many nutrients to maintain or increase crop production levels.

Although these increased inputs have led to higher yields to meet the demand for food production, the over-application of nutrients has resulted in continuous environmental degradation of soil, water and vegetation resources. In some areas, organic matter levels are declining due to improper tillage and nutrient management, resulting in a depletion of naturally available nutrients in our soils. All of this leads to even higher chemical inputs, including the use of synthetic fertilizers.

With continuous additions of chlorides, hydroxides, and other potentially harmful fertilizer byproducts, we have witnessed soil salinization and degradation of fresh water quality. Excess application of manures and acid-causing synthetic fertilizers has adversely affected soil structure, soil pH, and overall productivity of the soil. Over-application of synthetic fertilizers can also result in nutrient leaching into groundwater or off-site movement into surface waters.

Nutrient pollution does major damage to our ecosystem. It can result in irreversible damage to aquatic life – both plant and animal. The damage extends from our fresh water sources to our coastal environments. Nutrient pollution can lead to coral reef degradation, and aquatic sea plant death. It can also be tied to the decline of aquatic biodiversity and algal blooms resulting in massive fish deaths.  Groundwater and surface water contamination by nutrients has also been associated with a number of human health issues including reduced amounts and quality of drinking water (ex.  Toledo, 2014), infant brain damage, methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome), and even death.

Plants only absorb and utilize the nutrients they need at any given point during the growing season. Excess nutrients may remain in the soil; however, it is likely much of the excess will be leached through the soil or be tied up in the soil where it is unavailable. Two of these major nutrient pollutants are nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P). The main sources of N and P in groundwater are manure and synthetic fertilizers.

Another result of our practices is the loss of natural biodiversity of soil organisms.  Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, air, water and organic materials. We know our soil can benefit from bacteria, fungi, insects, and other organisms living underground. They help build soil tilth and increase land performance. Decomposition of the organic matter is essential to releasing nutrients to a plant. Included in organic matter are up to 2,400 lbs. of fungi, 1,500 lbs. of bacteria, 133 lbs. of protozoa and 100’s of lbs. of arthropods, algae, and even small mammals, per acre of soil. The pH and byproduct content of some commercial fertilizers can reduce populations of fungi, nematodes and protozoa. Additionally, many fertilizer (especially nitrogen) stabilizers have components that adversely affect soil microbes to accomplish that stability. Maintaining a healthy living environment for these organisms is critical for the sustainability of agriculture.

AgroLiquid’s goal is to prosper the farmer while safeguarding the environment. Lower-grade raw materials can contain byproducts that are harmful to plants, soil, the environment and even human health. AgroLiquid uses formulation technology that protects nutrients from loss to the environment and allows those nutrients to work with, instead of against, the biology of the soil to make them more usable by the crop.

Intensive research, development and product testing have resulted in a full-line of nutrient products that don’t solely focus on N-P-K. As AgroLiquid Vice-President of Operations and Organizational Development, Nick Bancroft, says, “we use nutrients to make nutrients better.” He gives the example of a phosphorous product. “It should not only contain phosphorous, it should contain nitrogen, it should contain potassium, and it should contain micronutrients.” Bancroft explains those nutrients work in harmony with phosphorous in the processes that phosphorous affect in the plant to make uptake, translocation, and utilization in the plant more efficient. This equates to more plant growth with less applied fertilizer.

Again, using phosphorous as an example, one gallon of Pro-Germinator® is significantly more efficient than conventional fertilizer sources when used at the recommended application rate. Less applied fertilizer means less leaching or off-target movement potential. The crop safety of Pro-Germinator allows it to be placed in the soil or on the plant, reducing the potential for pollution due to erosion. Many AgroLiquid products are also formulated to provide usable nutrients to the plant over the growing season, and not just for a short time after application, enabling the plant to utilize those available nutrients.

AgroLiquid continues to advance our full line of fertilizers by considering the soil as a dynamic living organism. We strive for Responsible Nutrient Management to provide environmental stewardship, cost effective crop nutrition, and sustainability of agriculture for the future  Soil health helps determine sustainability in agriculture. A healthy soil will better perform to potential. By addressing the needs of the plant with efficient fertilizers and fertilizer placement, we can manage many of the adverse effects discussed here. The sustainability of agriculture is of utmost importance to AgroLiquid, and we are constantly and continuously researching, developing, testing and perfecting our products with the future in mind.