Research Field Days 2015

Use Liquid Fertilizer for Long-Lasting Strip-Till Applications

Strip-till applications are the perfect time to place liquid fertility where the crop needs it, with the assurance that nutrients will be available when and where you need them.

Strip-till combines the best features of no-till and conventional tillage systems. Tilled strips that will house the seed row reside alongside undisturbed bands of crop residue that shelter the soil and conserve moisture. Growers who want to practice Responsible Nutrient Management, have poorly drained soils or are apprehensive about areas with poor soil structure can benefit from using strip-till in their operations.

Strip-till accelerates the warming and drying of the soil in the spring, which stimulates earlier and deeper root growth in field crops such as corn. It can also increase air circulation and improve aerobic conditions.

One of the biggest advantages of strip-till is that nutrients can be placed into the root zone where there is less potential they will be diverted or immobilized by crop residue. Dual placement of phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and micronutrients near the seed zone and placement of nitrogen beneath the seed zone, improves the proximity of nutrients to the roots as they grow and develop.

Successful strip-till applications match the right nutrients with the right timing, according to geographic area. For example, it isn’t advisable to apply nitrogen in the fall in areas that have large amounts of rainfall because of the potential for leaching. However, in arid areas growers can successfully apply nitrogen in the fall.

An effective combination for strip-till applications is Pro-Germinator for phosphorus and Sure-K for potassium, along with microLink for balanced micronutrient application. For nitrogen applications, AgroLiquid offers a number of choices from their N-Suite to meet the needs of any strip-till situation.

Agronomists at the North Central Research Station in St. Johns, Mich., conducted a two-year trial that assessed the effect of fertilizer timing and placement on strip-till corn (2012 Research Report, Effect of Fertilizer Timing and Nutrient Placement in Nutri-Till/Strip-Till Corn).

Strip-Till 2012-Research-Report-18_GraphResearchers found that deep fall placement was only slightly lower in yield than shallow fall placement. And both spring and fall placement of P, K and micronutrients resulted in similar yields. The study also established that the highest yield for both years was where all of the fertilizer was applied in the spring with the strip-till operation. This treatment resulted in corn that was noticeably ahead of the other treatments.

Growers are often apprehensive about nutrient applications during fall strip-till because they worry nutrients will not be available for crops the next year. AgroLiquid product formulations promote stability and protect nutrients from tie-up and loss. They are a great fit for conservation tillage cropping systems. Best of all, growers can apply fertilizer with confidence during strip-till, having the peace of mind that nutrients will be available at the right time and in the right place.


Phosphorus in Plants

There is no substitute for phosphorus in high-value crop production.

Phosphorus may not be first in the N-P-K lineup, but don’t underestimate its importance to plant growth and development. Many essential plant processes would not occur without it. There is no substitute for phosphorus if your primary goal is to maintain first-rate crops and high yields.

Every living plant cell contains phosphorus as part of the substances that carry the DNA code of living things. Phosphorus directly influences reproduction, photosynthesis, cell division, root development and energy storage. Some flowers and fruit also contain high concentrations of phosphorus.

Correct placement of phosphorus near the root zone is crucial because of its low mobility in the soil. The greater the distance the root must cover to reach the phosphorus, the greater the chance it will be unavailable when the plant needs it. Most plant roots only explore about 3% of the soil around them. Stunted growth, spindly stalks, distorted leaves and purpling are all signs of a phosphorus deficiency, as well as reduced blooms and/or onset of fruit.

In any given year, crops take up a combination of phosphorus applied in the current cropping year and phosphorus applied in previous years. Soil pH or acidity influence phosphorus reactivity and determines the speed and type(s) of insoluble phosphorus that is most likely to form. Phosphorus fertilizers are generally very inefficient and only a small portion of what is applied typically gets into the crop.

What’s new on the phosphorus front at Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers?

Pro-Germinator™ utilizes carbon as a building block to form long phosphorus chains that provide protection for the nutrient until the plant is ready to absorb it. The phosphorus compound isn’t subject to movement from the cropping environment because it reaches its intended destination the first time. This creates an optimum situation and leads to greater use efficiency.

Pro-Germinator™ performance is one of the standards that AgroLiquid uses to evaluate experimental phosphorus products. In 2012, researchers evaluated two experimental phosphorus fertilizers, SP-12 and ZP-12, on corn, soybeans and various vegetable crops. Both products, in addition to being N-P-K products, have added sulfur to help meet more complete crop requirements. This presented an increased risk for injury if the product comes into contact with the seed, unlike Pro-Germinator™, which is safe for in-furrow applications up to 10 gal/A on field corn.

Experimental Phosphorus Placement Options for Corn

This trial evaluated in-furrow and 2×2 placement options for effects on establishment, yield and stand. Pro-Germinator yields were similar for both application methods (197.2 vs. 194.5 bu/A). When comparing 2×2 applications, SP-12 and ZP-12 yields were numerically higher, but this did not hold true for in-furrow applications. Testing will continue to verify the conclusion that SP-12 and ZP-12 cause yield loss when applied in-furrow. (See Corn Planter Program Additives)


Experimental Phosphorus Applications on Soybeans

In-furrow and 2×2 applications of Pro-Germinator, SP-12 and ZP-12 were made with rebounders or tubes in the bottom of the furrow. Averages on all locations show SP-12 increased soybean yield 2 bu/A over that of Pro-Germinator. This may be enough of an increase to continue further testing during the 2013 growing season.


For the full research results see “Experimental Phosphorus Placement Options (NCRS 12-309, 719)” and “Experimental Phosphorus Fertilizers on Soybeans (NCRS 12-709, 1002, 1101)” in the 2012 Research Report.

June Strawberry Production

Start strawberries off right with AgroLiquid fertility products

Growers have a short time window to establish plantings once June-bearing strawberries are in the ground. In the fall, strawberries will require large amounts of energy for bud formation, a process that will shape yields for the next year.

Can AgroLiquid products help increase yields for commercial strawberry production? Research proves they can.

AgroLiquid Strawberry Trial Results

Agronomists at Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers compared their liquid fertility program to a conventional one to see what the effect would be on the yields of June-bearing strawberries.


Harvest results show that greater yield is achievable with less actual fertilizer applied. This not only results in cost-savings, but also provides a positive environmental benefit in the sandy soils where strawberries are commonly grown.

The AgroLiquid program out-yielded the conventional fertility program on three out of four individual harvests and when all four measured harvests were combined (See Figure A1). The most significant result was in nutrient use efficiency, which was three times greater for the AgroLiquid program.


Nutrient Needs for Strawberries

AgroLiquid products, with their unsurpassed application flexibility and research proven performance, can provide a strong nutritional foundation for June-bearing strawberries. Whatever the nutrient need, AgroLiquid has a product that offers quick, effective results.

  • Nitrogen – Nutrient demands for strawberries escalate in the fall. A majority of nitrogen should be applied prior to flower bud formation for optimal yields. High NRGN™ is a multi-form nitrogen fertilizer with one percent sulfur for effective, season-long nitrogen availability (27-0-0-1S).
  • Phosphorus – A certain amount of phosphorus is necessary for strawberries to develop strong fruits and healthy roots. Pro-Germinator™ is a high quality, dual-form phosphate fertilizer, 30% is available for immediate uptake. The remaining 70% has superior usability well into the growing season (9-24-3-0.1Fe).
  • Potassium – Potassium influences fruit development and fruit quality, as well as water movement and enzymatic processes within strawberry plants. Sure-K™ provides a versatile, chloride- and hydroxide-free potassium source for extremely efficient results in all cropping environments (2-1-6).alcium – Inadequate watering or rain and a lack of calcium can cause blossom end rot in strawberries.
  • Calcium also plays an important role in fruit development, in particular fruit firmness, which means plants hold up better during shipping. When extra calcium is necessary, LiberateCa™can be tank mixed with Pro-Germinator™, Sure-K™ and all micronutrients for maximum application and placement flexibility.
  • Micronutrients – Strawberries need small amounts of micronutrients for healthy growth. For example, boron is necessary for good fruit set and iron for the production of chlorophyll.Micro500™ is a proprietary formulation of zinc, manganese, iron, copper and boron that maximizes micronutrient efficiency (1.8%Zn, 1.2%Mn, 0.37%Fe, 0.25%Cu, 0.02B).

For full research results, see “Effect of fertilizer type on the yield of June-bearing type strawberries (NCRS 12-P102)” in the 2012 Research Report.

Soybean Production

Benefits of Using a Starter Fertilizer for Soybean Production


Starter fertilizer can help boost soybean production for better yields.

Earlier planting of soybeans can give growers a jump on production. This approach allows the plant more time to capture light and accrue carbon, nitrogen and other elements necessary for producing seed during reproductive phases. The result is that these soybeans will out-yield later plantings. For instance, Iowa State University researchers have found growers can gain three to four bushels an acre if planting starts the last week of April or the first week of May.

Growers should consider a number of factors when planting early, though. Soybeans don’t like to sit in cold, wet soils. In fact, they are more subject to damage from cold conditions than corn, so producers should specifically monitor soil conditions and the weather forecast for 48 hours after planting. If unfavorable weather is projected, growers should consider adjusting their planting date. The ideal soil temperature for germination and emergence is between 77° and 86° F, but soybeans will germinate at soil temperatures of 50° F.

“Yield data shows that soybeans can take a slight hit in stand without affecting yields – so the advantage of early planting can prevail,” says Dr. Jerry Wilhm, senior research manager with Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers. “Careful in-furrow application of phosphorus and potassium can help during these early conditions by encouraging root development. The roots will then grow nodules that fix nitrogen from the soil.” Nodules on healthy soybeans form following infection by the nodulating bacteria around the V2 stage.

Prescription Application Based on Trials

AgroLiquid research shows that row-applied fertilizer applications increased no-till soybean yields – almost 5 bu/A – over a no-fertilizer check (NCRS11-307). Researchers here used Pro-Germinator™ + Sure-K™ + Micro500™. Pro-Germinator™ contains a high quality, dual form of phosphate fertilizer with multi-forms of nitrogen, while Sure-K™ is a chloride- and hydroxide-free potassium fertilizer.

In permanent plot rotation trials, researchers compared liquid to conventional dry potash (0-0-62). A combination of Sure-K™ and Micro500™ yielded 1.5 to 4.5 more bu/A than two different rates of dry product (NCRS11-714).

AgroLiquid’s P and K Recommendations for Early Soybeans 

Apply 1 to 2 gallons/A Pro-Germinator™ + Sure-K™ plus (based on soil test K findings), along with 1 to 2 quarts/A Micro500™. “Root zone banding in 30-inch row beans can result in seedling injury at rates above 3 gal/A in light-textured soils,” cautions Wilhm. “The risk goes down in 15-inch rows, and there is little chance of seedling injury with soybean fertilizer programs in drilled soybeans.”

If there is a need for more than 3 gallons/A of fertilizer in 30-inch row beans, growers can apply the Pro-Germinator™ and Micro500™ at planting (3 gal/A max in light soils), then the balance of Sure-K™ as a foliar application.

Experts agree that soil testing is a key component. Iowa researchers recommend basing soybean fertilizer applications on soil test levels and estimates of nutrient removal by the crop. To help with those calculations, they note that a bushel of soybeans removes approximately 3.8 pounds of N, 0.8 pounds of P and 1.5 pounds of K each season.

Nitrogen & Corn Programs

Do you get a yield advantage with the addition of nitrogen to a corn-planter program?

cornseedlingSpring is just around the bend, and corn growers will soon be gearing up for planting. Rainy weather and lingering cold snaps often herald the arrival of spring. Both conditions are a concern at planting time because they affect nitrogen availability. The decisions growers make now about what type of nitrogen to use, how much to apply and when to apply it will set the course for production in the days ahead—it is critical to get them right.

Successful nitrogen management meets the needs of the crop at critical growth stages while minimizing losses to water and air. Nitrogen uptake in corn plants starts out slowly after planting and gains momentum as the crop approaches the V8 stage. Uptake gradually decreases as corn nears silking. By the V6 stage, about 30 to 35 days after planting, corn has established its yield potential.

According to Dr. Erik Larson (MSU Grain Crops Update: Corn Planting Suggestions and Final Wheat Top-dress), corn uses less than 10 percent of its nitrogen before rapid vegetative growth begins. Nitrogen use is most efficient prior to periods of rapid growth.

Some growers believe the addition of small amounts of nitrogen (up to five gallons/A) at planting time promotes early maturity and enhances plant vigor. Planter-time applications can be tricky, because too much nitrogen can inhibit seed germination, damage young seedlings and reduce the stand. Unpredictable springtime weather poses a greater risk for nitrogen losses due to denitrification and leaching.

AgroLiquid Research

Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s researchers decided to see if low rates of nitrogen added to a corn planter program would increase yields. The experiment centered around three products: HighNRG-N™ (27-0-0-1S), NResponse™ (20% urea, 2% ammoniacal, 2% nitrate nitrogen, 1% sulfur) and ferti-Rain™ (12-3-3-1.5S-0.1Fe-0.05Mn-0.1Zn).

Agronomists added 3 gal/A of each of these three products to a planter program containing Pro-Germinator™, Sure-K™ and Micro500™. All treatments were side-dressed with 41 gal/A HighNRG-N™, regardless of the early nitrogen added to some treatments at planting. Application placement was 2×2.


Of the three products evaluated, none of them resulted in a yield increase over the untreated check. This is consistent with what research has shown in the past.


Adding extra nitrogen at planting time may not outweigh the risks of crop damage. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s Pro-Germinator (9-24-3-0.1Fe) is a high quality, dual-form phosphate fertilizer with multi-form nitrogen that is sufficient for meeting early nitrogen demands without damaging the crop. Place Pro-Germinator™ in-furrow, beside or below the seed, with a splitter, or dribbled on the top of the row. However, in some planting and soil conditions contact with the seed should be limited. Pro-Germinator™ is compatible with other AgroLiquid products and most crop-protection products for a prescription-applied fertility program.

Nitrogen is one of the most limiting nutrients for corn production. Save time and money by managing it wisely. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers makes this goal easier by providing safe, research-proven products that support sustainable use and responsible nutrient management.

To see the full research results, refer to “Nitrogen Additives to a Corn Planter Program (NCRS 12-702)” in the 2012 Research Report.