The Natural Chemistry Lab Part ll

By: Galynn Beer, Senior Sales Manager

Part 2 of a 2-part blog series

In a previous blog post, I wrote the first of a two-part series regarding the complexities of soil. The soil is an asset you may own, or you may lease, but much of the first article talked about what is needed to maximize the productive capacity of that asset. Owning versus leasing may dictate investments you are willing to make, but to produce a crop, an investment into crop nutrition will be necessary.

A Review

First, a quick review of part one. I discuss the nutrient holding capacity of the soil indicated on a soil test as Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC, highlighted in blue). Also, there are some key cations that comprise most of the holding capacity of the soil. The main cations are listed as percentages of base saturation. Calcium (Ca) should be around 70%. Once that numbers starts getting higher than 75%, it can have some negative impact on other nutrients (reference the green ovals below to see the impact of high Ca). Magnesium (Mg) should be around 15%. Potassium (K) is optimum at about 5%, sodium (Na) should be less than 2% and hydrogen (H) about 10-15%. They should total 100%. Hydrogen is the ion that causes acidity, so the more of it you have, the more acidic your soil will be (the orange ovals show the relationship between hydrogen and acidic pH, which is a pH<7). You correct this by adding desirable cations to replace the hydrogen. In high pH soils, you may need to add elemental sulfur to remove some of the cations. Good crop production can be obtained on less than an optimum balance of these cations, but numbers in the ranges given will help crops endure stresses of the growing season.

Looking at Relationships Between the Nutrients

With that overview, you can see that when looking at a soil test, there are many relationships that exist among nutrients and you shouldn’t just evaluate each nutrient on its own, or address it according to the number listed. In the example shown, you’d be tempted to look at the weak bray phosphorus (P1) test and apply a very high amount of phosphorus. But if that phosphorus is broadcast, the excess Ca represented by the 84.2% is just going to tie it up, rendering it unusable by the crop you are intending to feed. So when you are thinking about fertilizing your crop, you need to stay focused on what the crop will be able to use and not what you are applying to the soil. Much of the phosphorus that is in the soil on the test with the high Ca will never be used by the crop. The calcium-phosphorus bond is too strong for the plant to be able to extract the phosphorus from the calcium. This just illustrates one of many possible reactions that can limit the ability of a crop to utilize nutrients in the soil. Over time, some of the phosphorus will separate when Mother Nature provides rain and a fractional amount will be released.

Micronutrients

Now for another critical area of a soil test, which often growers don’t focus on or even have tested for . . . micronutrients. At the bottom of the test shown, these levels are listed. It is common to think that soils either have them or they don’t. Certainly, there is some truth to that. Soils in some areas of the country are naturally high in specific nutrients. Minnesota soils typically have very high iron levels, which is interesting because at one time much of the Nation’s iron ore originated there. But also impacting micronutrient levels significantly is the balance of the soil. High levels of Ca, Mg, K and Na can crowd out micros. Often, zinc, manganese, and iron are the most common to have limited availability with excesses of cations. This can easily be seen when crops that have a high demand for these micronutrients are grown on these soils. Soybeans grown on the soil test with 84.2% calcium would be highly likely to exhibit a chlorotic look because iron and manganese are limited in availability as shown on the example soil test. Soybeans have a higher need for these nutrients than a crop like corn. Citrus is another crop that demands a lot of iron and manganese and would suffer in this soil.

Building Your Crop Nutrition Management Plan

The valuable part of a soil test, the reason you should routinely have your soil analyzed, is that this overview will help you prioritize investments into your asset of land. If you own the land, you can embark on measures that are longer-term fixes, such as implementing some practices to correct imbalances. Over time, the elevated calcium in the example could be lowered. But if your asset is rented, a long-term investment to correct imbalances can be a difficult decision; you are fixing someone else’s asset. If it can result in a fast payback, then maybe it is worth it. If your investment increases the productivity, then the owner may decide to try to grab more value as a result of improved productivity by increasing rent. So your improvement may actually cost you twice on a rented assets; once for the improvement and a second time if rent is raised. The overall soil test can help tremendously with making these decisions, or even having a conversation with the owner of your land to ensure you can recover your investment into their asset.

Making Decisions

Decisions regarding crop nutrition can be complex as yield expectations rise and economics remain challenging. AgroLiquid takes measures to mitigate the impact of imbalances that exist by protecting our nutrition from many of the reactions that can occur. The purpose for using fertilizer is to feed the crop. Thinking about fertilizer in terms of how much is used by the plant rather than how much is applied to the soil is a critical step. A complete soil test is a good indicator of how much efficiency can be expected with applied crop nutrition. AgroLiquid’s unique protection improves efficiency dramatically. Couple that with a staff that has a thorough understanding of the nutrient relationships in the soil and you will receive a value that goes beyond the return on your investment.

The fall is the most popular time to soil test. Crops are harvested and attention can turn to the future. Future investments into fertilizer should begin with a soil test; they should end with a decision to get the most value out of your fertilizer dollar by adding skilled interpretation of the test with protected nutrition. AgroLiquid is where you will find both.

The Natural Chemistry Lab

By Galynn Beer, Senior Sales Manager

Part 1 of a 2-part blog series

Fertilizing a crop, any crop, is getting more and more complex; why? To answer this question, we’ll do a quick review of the economic side, and then move into why it is important to look at things that haven’t traditionally been scrutinized.

Why does it seem like there is more focus on various aspects of crop production? A major reason crop nutrition seems to be getting more complex is due to the swings in commodity prices, which quickly change revenue, input costs and profit margins. A thinning profit margin requires higher levels of management or we fall victim to the cruelty of a capitalistic market. There was a time when fertilizer management only focused on N-P-K. As yields climb, we know that we are having to increase the productivity of N, P and K through the supporting roles of secondary and micronutrients, such as sulfur and zinc all the way through molybdenum.

To make matters worse, some of those supporting nutrients get pricey, so human tendency is to focus on the cheaper ones. Spending on extra nitrogen and potassium feels better than copper for sure. But what if copper holds the yield of your wheat crop back and the result is the 50 pounds of nitrogen you applied isn’t productive because it wasn’t supported by $5 worth of copper? Economics and our biases sometimes interfere with our decisions. Be aware of your tendencies and remember: balance is better than abundance in most instances.

Fertile Soil = Higher Yield, Right?

Everyone wants a fertile soil, but that alone does nothing. The expectation of a fertile soil is that it will share those nutrients with the crop. The production of a crop is what provides a return and that’s why we want nutrition to be associated with crop production. Fertile soils are generally productive, so there is a correlation – but not always. Excesses of some nutrients can interfere with the utilization of good levels of other nutrients. Higher rainfall amounts will cause some nutrients, such as potassium, to move down in the soil. With dry climates, high evaporation rates will keep cations at the surface. In addition, arid areas are often receiving irrigation water. Since the irrigation water generally carries other nutrients, the top of the soil starts acting like a coffee filter and the soil can take on the properties of the water. The result can be a potassium level that may have you gloating over how fertile you soil is, but could actually limit production. These factors matter as we manage crop nutrition. We can manipulate levels some, but then we’re back to economics to see if productivity will justify the expense.

Let’s get started. I’ll go in the order that I look at a soil test analysis.

Cation exchange capacity (or C.E.C., and pronounced like a short phrase: cat-I-on)

The C.E.C. shows us the nutrient and water holding capacity of the soil. This is the first indicator of the productive capability of a soil. The higher the number, the more water and nutrients it can store. I have seen all types of C.E.C. soils be productive. Low numbers can be challenging because they need rain or irrigation more often since these sandy soils don’t store much water. But crops root down well in a sandy soil and with sufficient water, they will reward you with outstanding yields. Higher C.E.C. soils hold more nutrients and water, providing a buffer between rain events. A low C.E.C number would be 1, requiring superb management, and a high number might go as high as 50 if a lot of organic matter exists. Typical soils range between 10 and 30. Some tests factor the organic matter into the nutrient holding capacity and with other tests, you need to account for it separately.

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium levels heavily influence soil productivity. I like a Ca base saturation range of 60-75%. Higher numbers will tie up, or crowd out, other nutrients. With a number higher than 75, I immediately look to see if it is tying up phosphorus and crowding out the micronutrient cations like zinc, iron and manganese. If it is, I need to make sure to allocate budget for these. This is a case of a low nutrient base saturation, such as phosphorus or one of the micros, and those low levels being related to an excess of something. In this example, it would be because of calcium. Phosphorus is very reactive with calcium and since zinc, iron, manganese and copper are cations, they can be displaced by high levels of calcium. Most commonly, you’d see associated low levels of zinc, iron and manganese . The importance of sulfur is elevated in this situation to counter high calcium levels. You aren’t only considering crop needs for sulfur, but also the ‘antidote’ effect it has on the elevated cation level of calcium. And banding near the root zone is important to limit exposure of the nutrients to reactivity of the high calcium levels. On the other end of the spectrum,  at lower than desired calcium levels, below 60%, rhizobia bacteria don’t do their job as efficiently, so lime is needed, especially if a legume will be grown.

Magnesium (Mg)

I look for Mg to be between 10 and 20%. Over 20, and compaction is more of an issue. An anaerobic condition can develop under heavy rain or even with severe drought. Under 10% and deficiencies begin to occur and applications should be made. Magnesium is central to chlorophyll development, so it is important to have enough of this nutrient available to your crop.

Potassium (K)

It should be between 3 and 8%. A low C.E.C soil should be in the high side of this range to supply ample amounts. If not, then it needs addressed. Rare instances of levels over 8% can exist and can restrict water infiltration. These high levels would most likely be found in low rainfall areas with high applications of manure or with potassium being brought to the soil through irrigation.

Hydrogen (H)

Any amount of hydrogen present means we are on the acidic side of the pH scale, meaning under 7. The higher the hydrogen number, the more acidic the soil. You’d like to keep your soil near the neutral level of 7. As soils become acidic, some nutrients are more readily released, such as iron and manganese. Often, you see crops that like high levels of iron and manganese grown in acidic soils, such as blueberries. But many beneficial microbes can’t survive in an acidic environment, so generally lime is needed to raise the pH. This is done by adding lime with calcium and/or magnesium, which displaces the hydrogen and brings the pH up. Rain and snow (H2O) bring H to the environment, so acidity slowly creeps back in. Also, various forms of nitrogen can contribute more than others. NH3 and the conversion of urea to NH4, then to NO3 through the nitrogen cycle, contribute to acidity.  Don’t panic; these forms of nitrogen don’t cause a radical shift in pH, but over-applications do contribute additional hydrogen and creates some acidity.

Sodium (Na)

Sodium mostly comes into play in arid areas where irrigation water is being applied, but can be a factor in low areas of fields where water stands and in areas with a shallow water table. A base saturation of sodium over 2% can limit production when temperatures rise and water is demanded by the plant to cool itself. Sodium holds on to water and can limit its movement into a plant. Generally, elemental sulfur would be used to counter this situation. Also, winter annuals typically  do better if sodium issues are persistent. They are grown when transpiration rates aren’t as high, so the competition of sodium for water isn’t as critical. The source of sodium should be identified and treated if possible so that production options remain flexible.

Cation management greatly influences the productive capacity of your soil. Proper balance is important for other nutrient inputs to provide maximum return. Again, calcium in a range of 60-75%, magnesium between 10-20%, potassium between 3 and 8%, hydrogen less than 10% and sodium less than 2% will provide the most consistent yields through a variety of environmental conditions. Exceptions for specific crop reasons and economic limitations of amending soils can create a to manage around problems in this area. A perfect soil doesn’t always make sense. Where possible, it lowers risk of other stresses limiting production, but good production can come from less than ideal soils if they are properly managed.

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll tackle the other nutrients and then look at how all cations and nutrients work together and interact with each other.

Postharvest Fertility – Trees and Vines

By Dylan Rogers, Sales Account ManagerDylan Rogers, Sales Account Manager for Southern California

With almond and grape harvest underway here in California, it is easy to fall into the mindset that the finish line for yet another growing season is near. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, the most important part of the growing season is still upon us. Postharvest irrigation and fertility can be the most crucial aspect of growing trees and vines. Growers, PCAs, and CCAs are always striving to increase yields and quality. Having a solid postharvest game plan plays a critical role in ensuring better yields and quality for next season’s crop.

After the stress of harvest, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium will begin to transition from leaves to spurs in almonds, and from leaves to roots and woody tissues in vines. In almonds, bud initiation and differentiation has already begun, so the fate of the 2020 crop is already underway. Water stress at this point in time will significantly reduce next year’s crop. Postharvest irrigation is also very important to ensure that the leaves stay active for as long as possible so they can continue photosynthesizing and storing much needed carbohydrates for next year’s crop. When dormancy breaks in early spring, trees and vines will be functioning solely on stored nutrients. Nutrient uptake from the soil is very minimal at this point due to cool soil temperatures as well as the lack of leaves. Adequate postharvest fertility to replenish nutrient reserves will ensure that your crop has the energy it needs to maximize production when dormancy breaks come spring.

Nitrogen (N)

Up to 20% of the total seasonal demand for nitrogen in almonds can be applied postharvest. This is also very similar for grapes. Postharvest nitrogen will help maintain leaf area and extend the time for photosynthesis to keep producing carbohydrates in the trees and vines. Postharvest N will also ensure that reserves are replenished and early shoot growth and leaf out will be strong in the spring. It is important to take in-season tissue samples into consideration when determining how much nitrogen to apply. Any soil-applied nitrogen in the nitrate form that is not taken up by the roots will be subject to leaching from rainfall and irrigations. Foliar-applied nitrogen is also a good choice for postharvest applications. It is common to use a fast acting nitrogen source in this situation, such as urea-based products.

Almonds ready for harvestPhosphorous (P)

The amount of phosphorous used by trees and vines is much less compared to the demand for nitrogen and potassium. However, this does not mean it is less important for optimal growth and yields. A postharvest application of phosphorous will promote healthy fall and spring root flushes, as well as ensure the trees and vines have a good energy source when dormancy breaks in the spring. Choosing a phosphorous fertilizer that is protected from tie up from cations in the soil is important and will ensure that it is free and available for the plant to uptake as needed.

Potassium (K)

Potassium demand in almonds and grapes is even higher than that of nitrogen. A postharvest application of potassium is essential in order to restore reserves, even more so if your yields were above average this season. Potassium is an important aspect in plant water relations and cell reproduction. If potassium reserves are deficient when dormancy breaks in the spring, new fruiting spurs will develop at a slower pace or even die prematurely as compared to a tree that has optimal potassium reserves. Root uptake is minimal at this point, so a soil application of potassium will serve to replenish K reserves in the soil. A postharvest foliar application of potassium is a great way to ensure you get the potassium into the trees and vines to replenish those reserves. Choosing a K product that is free of chlorides and hydroxides, as well as effective at penetrating the leaf cuticle and easily translocated once in the leaf will provide the greatest return on your fertilizer investment.

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc is a very important micronutrient that plays a major role in synthesizing auxins. These auxins ensure a uniform bud break and a good fruit set in the spring. Almonds are commonly zinc deficient. This is due to a number of reasons, including certain rootstocks that are not adequate at taking up zinc from the soil. Zinc deficiencies are also common in areas with alkaline soils. Zinc is fairly immobile in the soil so postharvest foliar applications are most effective at correcting deficiencies and restoring reserves.

Boron (B)

Collecting hull samples to send off for boron analysis should be a staple in your postharvest game plan. Hull samples are the most effective indicator of boron levels in almonds. Boron is very critical for development of flowers, specifically pollen development and viability. If the hull analysis shows less than 80 parts per million boron, the trees are deficient and are most likely losing yield potential. Postharvest foliar applications of boron are an effective way to correct deficiencies and restore boron levels in the tree.

As you complete this year’s harvest, let your mind shift gears and begin thinking about next year’s crop. Its fate is already underway and having a solid postharvest irrigation and fertility game plan will ensure your trees and vines go into dormancy with adequate nutrient reserves. With a good postharvest fertility program, your crop will be off to a great start come spring and you’ll be well on your way to improving yields and quality year after year.

Find a crop nutrition expert in your area to discuss your program.

California permanent crops

Making Choices

The Appropriate Nutrients For Your Crops

By John Leif, Field Agronomy Manager

Seed and crop protection selection has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, but crop nutrition planning is sometimes based on past history rather than on knowledge of the soil and needs of the crop (“it’s what I’ve always done”). The agricultural economy can make it tempting to take a few shortcuts and not purchase inputs or services that were purchased in the past. The challenge is making the best use of financial resources but not cutting inputs that will make money. As growers consider their crop nutrition needs it is tempting to forgo something as basic, and important, as soil testing.

Soil testing allows the grower to determine the current condition of the soil, including imbalances, deficiencies, and excesses. It also helps identify how much nutrition is already available in the soil so that fertilizer applications can be optimized. A multi-year testing program allows the grower to monitor changes in the soil over time.

Yes, soil testing does cost money – around $25 per sample for a complete test that includes soil characteristics, nutrient levels and base saturation. However, if one soil sample represents 20 acres in a field and the field is sampled every three years, the cost of soil sampling averages out to be about $0.41 per acre per year. Not a bad investment, considering the amount of information received from that test.

Nutrient levels in soil will change over time. Nutrient level reductions can be the result of crop removal, changes in fertilizer use, and loss through erosion or leaching. Nutrients that weren’t well managed 20 years ago, such as sulfur or micronutrients, have become more prominent as nutrients that can be limiting to yield. Soluble nutrients such as manganese and boron are difficult to build up in the soil, and higher crop yields of today take more crop nutrition than the yields of 20 – 30 years ago. “Free” sulfur from manufacturing and power generation facilities is not as available as it was before the Clean Air Act was implemented. Simply applying the same fertilizer mix you have always applied may not provide the best production or economic return.

The soil test report can be used to develop a complete nutrient management program for a field, including soil amendments to adjust nutrient imbalances as well as determine the fertilizer application needs for the crop. Using products that can be mixed to address the needs of a field will provide the best opportunity for economic return.

An excellent example of using soil test information to optimize crop nutrition choices is a field experiment conducted by MGS Farms (formerly AgroSpray Research Farm) near Innerkip, Ontario. The soil test report for the field showed low levels of both phosphorus and potassium. A common, standard program in the area is an application of 5 gallons/acre of 6-24-6 liquid fertilizer that provides phosphorus and a small amount of potassium. That treatment was compared to 2.5 gallons/acre of Pro-Germinator to meet the phosphorus need or 2.5 gallons per acre each of Pro-Germinator and Sure-K to meet the phosphorus and potassium need. Addressing the phosphorus and potassium need as indicated by the soil test provided higher yield and higher net return compared to either no phosphorus or phosphorus fertilizer alone.

In addition to selecting nutrients needed to grow the crop, a soil test report will show relationships among nutrients in the soil. If one nutrient is in excess, other nutrients may not be available to the crop, even if the values of those nutrients are high. An excellent example of this is manganese and iron. If the manganese level is higher than the iron level, there is a risk that iron will be less available to the crop and supplemental iron nutrition is recommended. Excess levels of calcium can reduce the availability of several nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium and manganese, among others. Mulder’s Chart graphically describes some of those relationships.

If you have any questions about soil testing and developing a crop nutrition program, contact your AgroLiquid representative.

Planting Straight Rows of Trees (LAND OF LIQUID Blog)

 So in previous episodes I’ve shown nice straight rows of trees in California.  There is a real increase of new plantings of trees, mainly almonds.  So how do they get those nice straight rows that line up no matter which way you look?  Well again Sales Account Manger Dylan was my source of answers.  In fact he has been part of tree planting operations in a previous job.  Well one way is to lay out a real long tape on top of the raised bed, and put in markers, or “straws” as they are called, where the tree will go.  For almonds that is around 14 foot spacing.  Then go to the next row and adjust the tape so that the straw is mid-way between the trees in the previous row.  That way you get maximum sunlight penetration.  And it looks really cool.  Here is an orchard that was probably planted last year.

recently planted orchard

Here is an almond orchard that was recently planted.  However instead of straws this grower used GPS guidance on a tractor or something with wheel spacing to match tree placement.  Then they built the raised rows and used the wheel tracks as placement guides.  This is lots faster than the tape and straw method.  This is pretty new to me, and I haven’t talked to enough almond growers to get the real scoop on what’s the most popular today.  But I would lean towards GPS.  But you have to really be careful to get it set exactly where the wheel track is.

how are orchards planted straight?

 Look how this tree is leaning.  In fact, they all are.  It seems that they plant on a slant facing Northwest, as that is the direction of the prevailing storm winds in the winter when trees can get blown over. So they lean them into the wind to make them better able to withstand the wind.  Then they will stake them to hold them in position.  Look at the top picture where stakes are on the trees.  I guess it’s worth the extra trouble as they will be there for many years.

newly planted orchard tree

There is a saying that I like (but don’t always follow) that fits here: If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  (Do you know who said that?  Famous UCLA basketball coach John Wooden who is the GOAT with 10 championships in 12 years, including 7 in a row.)  He probably wasn’t talking about planting almond trees, but it applies.

The Phosphate Advantage

Phosphorus (P) is considered a primary crop nutrient, along with nitrogen and potassium. Phosphorus is involved in photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage and transfer and many other processes in the plant. Phosphorus improves the quality of fruit, vegetable, and grain crops, and is vital to seed formation. Phosphorus uptake is a continuous process during the active growth period of plants. Phosphorus is absorbed by plants throughout the growing season, with much of the plant’s phosphorus need occurring during periods of fast vegetative growth and fruit production.  Since phosphorus is needed at all stages of plant growth it is imperative that the nutrient be in a plant available form throughout the growing season.

Most phosphate fertilizers combine, or complex, with other minerals in the soil to create compounds that are not usable to plants. This can happen in as little as 4 to 8 days. Pro-Germinator™ contains both orthophosphate, which is immediately available to the plant, and long-chain polyphosphates that are protected by flavonol chelation technology resulting in season long phosphorus availability.

flavonol protects polyphosphate in Pro-Germinator from fixation loss

The combination of ortho- and polyphosphates, along with its flavonol chelation technology allows Pro-Germinator™ to provide more nutritional performance per gallon than conventional fertilizers.  That results in having excellent crop nutrition at lower application rates than other phosphate products.  When applied at recommended rates, Pro-Germinator™ is cost effective, on a per acre basis.  Pro-Germinator™ should be the backbone of all crop fertility programs, potentially providing the greatest return on phosphorus investment.

liquid starter comparison on corn

An experiment was conducted at the AgroLiquid North Central Research Station to determine phosphate availability of Pro-Germinator™ compared to other liquid phosphate fertilizers. Pro-Germinator™, 9-18-9 orthophosphate, and 10-34-0 ammonium polyphosphate were applied at 20 lb P2O5 per acre. Plant usable phosphorus in soil solution was measured at various times throughout the growing season.

plant usable phosphorus in solution comparison

 

Why Micro 500?

Micro 500 contains a balanced combination of five essential micronutrients: zinc, manganese, iron, copper, and boron. Each crop grown has minimum requirements of certain micronutrients in specific proportion to each other. Zinc affects the terminal growth areas of the plant. High yields are impossible without zinc due to its importance with growth. Iron is required for the formation of chlorophyll. It activates respiration and is essential for food production. Boron is essential for development of new cells in the process of cell division and differentiation. Copper catalyzes several plant reactions and is essential to chlorophyll formation. Manganese serves as an activator for enzymes involved in plant growth processes. It is needed for phosphorus and magnesium uptake. The formulation of Micro 500 is designed to fill those requirements.

Why Micro 500?

The five micronutrients in Micro 500 are formulated together using AgroLiquid’s Flavonol Polymer Technology so that they perform better than applying comparable rates of individual micronutrients. The formulation technology used in Micro 500 makes it easy for those nutrients to enter through the roots or leaves of the plant, making it an ideal micronutrient product for soil or foliar applications. Individual MicroLink micronutrients can be added to Micro 500 if specific nutrient deficiencies are present in the field.

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.

nitrogen 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.

nitrogen source effect on corn yield

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.

nitrification inhibitor

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.

fertilizer program results

fertilizer results micronutrient to corn

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

Research 2017

Research Supports Future Growth is a series of videos highlighting crop nutrient research conducted by the North Central Research Station.

In the week 4 Research Supports Future Growth, Field Agronomy Research Manager, Stephanie Zelinko discusses long term fertility programs in corn and soybeans.

In this week’s Research Supports Future Growth, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses how a complete cotton crop nutrition program that enables extended nutrient feeding and will help realize better boll set and yield.

Field Agronomy Research Manager Tim Duckert discusses foliar applications on sugarbeets.

Field Agronomy Research Manager, Stephanie Zelinko, discusses C-TECH, an easy-to-use, precision solution designed to supply season-long nutrition while creating a biologically-active soil.
C-TECH is specially-formulated with specific microbes and BioActivites, combined with plant nutrients to help better hold nutrients in poor soil types, release nutrients within soil solution, promote biological activity and help increase overall plant health.