LAND OF LIQUID: Intern on the Move, Plus More NCRS Happenings

So last week NCRS college intern Jake took his field trip to North Dakota.  He was met in Bismarck by Sales Account Manager Brad and Field Agronomy Manager Reid.  From there they went down to the extreme Southwestern part of the state to Bowman, home of AgroLiquid Retail Partner Southwest Ag (well what else would it be called?).  They spent the next several days travelling with some of the Southwest sales agronomists visiting customers both in the Bowman area and near their other site in Mandan, next to Bismarck.  MSU student Jake said that many of the crops looked good but some had been hampered by dry weather and hail.  Now that’s a cruel combination.  That’s Jake on the right.

In other news…the NCRS has long been Environmentally Verified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP, or pronounced “Meep” in conversation).  This is a state program that recognizes farms that keep good spray, planting, application, et al, records, safe storage of pesticides, containment of fertilizers, irrigation records and all of the things that make a farm a good neighbor.  The NCRS passed inspection the other day and was awarded an updated sign, held by NCRS department manager Jay.  This one is cool because it is one of those that shine brightly at night from headlights.  Look for it on your next visit.  Come at night for the ultimate sign experience.

Well the winter wheat research plots have all been harvested, but there were still some production acres awaiting harvest.  Here is our fearless leader Troy taking the helm of the combine, having a last conversation with truck driver Ron.

And he’s off.  This actually is some soft red winter wheat.  In general, these kernels are a major ingredient of flour used by private companies that bake cookies.  Yummm.

Faster Troy.  There’s cookies to be made!

Drove by our vineyard that is looking good this time of year. You can see some green bunches in the foliage.  These are Concord grapes, and thank goodness we have drip irrigation.

We are still making applications to the Challenge Plots at the AgroExpo site.  Brian Hefty called for a coulter injection treatment of High NRG-N, Kalibrate and Boron now that the soybeans are in the R2 stage of growth.  So we did.  (Nice picture Lacy.)

Now here’s an odd picture, also at the AgroExpo site on Farm 12.  We noticed on a plot area planted to soybeans in 15″ row spacing, that every other row was showing severe potassium deficiency while the other rows all looked fine. Hmmm. This soil is quite low in soil test potassium (STK), but even stranger is that there was no fertilizer applied at planting or any other time.  Hmmm #2.  What’s up with that I wondered?  Come to the AgroExpo and learn more.

So it has been a busy week, and it’s still not over.

Research Field Days 2015

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: So Where Do Walnuts Come From? Check this out….

So a couple weeks ago I made my way out to California.  I was met by a crew of AgroLiquid field managers: Regional Sales Manager Stuart, Field Agronomist JW and Sales Account Manager Armando.  And me from Research, so you can’t get more diverse than that. Well it is winter and there isn’t much growing, and the trip was mostly for meetings. But Sales Account Manager Armando knew of a nearby fertilizer comparison in walnuts.  So of course we wanted to see it.  It was two adjacent 40 acre blocks where everything was the same…except the potassium fertilizer.  That’s one of the blocks below. 

Well these trees didn’t look so great.  Look at these leaves.  That’s potassium deficiency with the necrotic leaf margins.  Not sure, but maybe some sodium accumulation too from the irrigation lines. But I didn’t have a soil or irrigation water analysis.  Well it turns out this side was fertilized with KTS, or potassium thio-sulfate.  Not sure of the rates or timing.  But it wasn’t working.

Well the next block received 3 gal/A of Kalibrate through the irrigation lines and 3 foliar applications of 3 gal/A of Sure-K.  Now this was the first walnut grove I had ever been in, but I could see that this side looked a lot better.

Here is a leaflet from the KTS side next to one from the AgroLiquid side.  Pretty sharp differences. Of course it looks too good to be true, but all I know is what I was told.  And Armando is the man.  

The walnuts were recently picked, and we will see if the yield is reflective of the tree appearance. But the grower was greatly impressed and said Kalibrate and Sure-K will be on all of the trees in the future.  Wise choice.  Below the fertilizer guys reflect on what we have seen.  JW sees that the highly usable potassium from Kalibrate and Sure-K are superior nutrient sources.  Armando is happy for the grower and the future sale.  Stuart crosses Walnuts off the list of new crops benefited by AgroLiquid. Me?  All this talk of walnuts was making me hungry.  So what’s for dinner? 

So more research and evaluations are forthcoming in California.  However I should add that the biggest factor affecting crops in CA these days is lack of water.  The drought persists, although it did rain some my last night there in Sacramento.  Hope for more. 


Soybean Fertilizer Programs in a Permanent Plot Rotation (13-714)

Experiment Info: 13-714

Planted: 5/17
Variety: Stine 22RC62
Population: 155,000
Row Spacing: 15”
Previous Crop: Corn
Plot Size: 15’ X 210’
Replications: 4
Potash: Fall 2011
Foliar: 7/2
Harvested: 10/11

Soil Test Values (ppm):

pH: 6.1
CEC: 11.6
% OM: 2.5
Bray P1: 13
K: 118
S: 9
% K: 1.3
% Mg: 17.4
% Ca: 65.8
%H: 13.8
% Na: 0.4
Zn: 1.3
Mn: 8
B: 0.4


To compare fertilizer programs for effects on soybean yield in a long-term continuous corn/soybean rotation. This year marks the third year in a long-term study comparing fertilizer programs in a corn/soybean
rotation. Each fertilizer program remains “permanent” within the plot area and from year to year. This allows for evaluation of fertilizer effects from each program and the impact each has on soil test levels. For the soybean part of this experiment there are four main fertility programs being compared to meet the yield goal of 60 bu/A: two Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers programs and two conventional programs. The first AgroLiquid program applied according to the soil test was 5 gal/A Sure-K with 1 qt/A Micro 500 applied in-furrow with Rebounder seed firmer with split fertilizer applicators. The second program was a foliar application 3 gal/A Sure-K with 1 qt/A MicroLink Manganese applied at the V4 stage of growth. Conventional programs were two rates of muriate of potash (0-0-62) applied in the fall following the previous soybean harvest in 2011. Two programs are being compared, the standard program according to soil test was applied at a rate of 200 lbs/A. A second program rate of 20 lbs/A was applied to match actual pounds of potassium provided by the Sure-K application. Yield results appear on the following chart.


• All fertilizer programs increased soybean yield over that of the untreated check.

• The planter applied AgroLiquid program exceeded the yield goal with an average yield of 66.2 bu/A.

• Similar yield was achieved with both rates of potash, yielding 63 bu/A. It is expected that as this experiment continues, yield with the low rate of potash will not be sustainable.

• Highest yield was obtained with a foliar application of Sure-K and Manganese, which was significantly higher than any other treatment.


Potassium Rate and Placement Comparison in Soybeans (13-508)

Experiment Info13-508

Planted: 6/3
Variety: Stine 19RA02
Population: 140,000
Row Spacing: 30”
Previous Crop: Wheat
Plot Size: 15’x290/310’
Replications: 4
Foliar 1: 7/19
Foliar 2: 7/31
Harvested: 10/3

Soil Test Values (ppm)

pH: 7.4
CEC: 7.7
% OM: 1.6
Bicarb P: 21
K: 47
S: 8
% K: 1.6
% Mg: 21.5
% Ca: 75.8
% H: 0
% Na: 1.1
Zn: 1
Mn: 6
B: 0.5


To compare rate and placement options for potassium needs for 30” row Soybeans. Placing nutrients in a band close to the seed has always been an efficient use of applied nutrients. When nutrient recommendations exceed in-furrow placement limits then other options are needed. Other options may include 2×2 or part of the total in-furrow and the remainder foliar applied. AgroLiquid has partnered with AgXcel to build a new experimental option to place part of the total nutrients needed in-furrow and the remainder placed behind the planter press wheels on top of the soil and one inch to either side of the seed (0x1). The “AgXcel” treatment placed 3 gal/A in-furrow (maximum allowed rate for 30” rows) and the remaining 7 gal/A on the soil surface. The AgXcel equipment uses orifices to split the nutrient stream into the two different required rates.


• Drier than normal growing conditions limited yield.

• All three placement comparisons resulted in similar yields.

• The 2×2 placement is a very safe way to band apply large amount of nutrients with the planter in 30” rows.

• Sure-K placed on the soil surface with the AgXcel option showed a slight non-significant yield increase over 2×2 and in-furrow with foliar placement.

• Future work with AgXcel could provide a new option for planter nutrient placement.

Sure-K Application Timing in Corn (13-716)

Experiment Info13-716a

Planted: 5/3
Variety: DKC53-78
Population: 4
Row Spacing: 30”
Previous Crop: Soybeans
Plot Size: 15’ x 210’
Replications: 4
PRE: 5/4
Sidedress: 6/15
Harvested: 10/3

Soil Test Values (ppm)

pH: 7.6
CEC: 14.8
% OM: 3.7
Bicarb P: 5
K: 73
S: 7
% K: 1.3
% Mg: 21.7
% Ca: 76.8
%H: 0
% Na: 0.2
Zn: 0.8
Mn: 2
B: 0.5


To compare the application of Sure-K at a sidedress timing to a more standard planter in-furrow application. Can an application of potassium be made at sidedress? The treatments were planted on May 3rd. Wet weather delayed sidedress applications to June 15th, 42 days after planting. Normally we would prefer to have sidedress completed by 30 days after planting. However, cool weather also delayed corn growth. The corn was at growth stage V5 and 12” tall at the time of sidedress. A rate of 7 gal/A of Sure-K was added to the 45 gal/A of High NRG-N, which was being applied as the nitrogen source, and coulter injected in the center of 30” rows.


• It is still best to apply most of the potassium needs at planting to achieve optimum yields.

• In cases that arise where a late sidedress application is necessary, this test shows no significant yield decrease from the delayed application.

• Sidedress applications of potassium can still provide the nutrient needs, however not as effective.

Potassium Fertilizer Timing in Corn (13-705)

Experiment Info

13-705Planted: 5/7
Variety: DKC53-78
Population: 31,500
Row Spacing: 30”
Previous Crop: Corn
Plot Size: 15’ x 265’
Replications: 4
Potash: 11/9/12
PRE: 5/8
Sidedress: 6/8
Harvested: 10/15
Yield Goal: 175 bu
Target Fertilizer Rate: 192-90-48

Soil Test Values (ppm)

pH: 6.9
CEC: 9.5
% OM: 2.1
Bray P1: 10
K: 112
S: 7
% K: 3.0
% Mg: 19.5
% Ca: 77.2
% H: 0
% Na: 0.3
Zn: 1.5
Mn: 10
B: 0.5


To determine the optimum time for fertilizing a corn crop with potassium. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s Sure-K is seed safe to allow application of the required nutrients in-furrow when planting. Sometimes the question of when to apply potassium, if not with the planter, comes up. In determining to answer that question, a broadcast rate of Sure-K was applied in the fall. A comparison of fall broadcasted Potash was also applied. Both treatments were incorporated into the soil by chisel plowing the previous corn crop residue. The spring broadcast treatment of Sure-K was made and incorporated with a soil finisher before planting. Yield results appear in the table above.


• The 4 gal/A rate of Sure-K gave nearly identical yields as the higher rate of Sure-K broadcasted or the dry Potash applications. The in-furrow placement puts nutrients where they are needed.

• Planter applied, fall or spring broadcast of potassium had no significant yield advantage to each other. The difference comes in the amount of nutrients applied to realize similar yields.

• In spite of these results, broadcast applications are not recommended at this time until more research is conducted.

• The no planter fertilizer treatment lacked the necessary nutrients needed to accomplish its yield potential.

• If Sure-K is going to be broadcast applied, a 20% increase in rate is needed to achieve comparable yields to planter applied rates.

Almonds and Potassium

Potassium for a Healthier Almond Crop  

Maintain potassium at adequate levels to enhance productivity and prevent deficiencies that reduce almond yields.

Almonds love potassium (K). They require large amounts of it to remain vigorous and productive, even more so than nitrogen. Each almond orchard is a unique environment, and different soil types hold varying amounts of K and release it differently, which can make it tricky to manage K effectively.

“Growers who want to maximize yields need to stay on top of their K applications,” says David Doll, University of California Cooperative Extension nut pomology farm advisor for Merced County. “Otherwise, deficiencies will reduce return bloom and decrease spur longevity, which affects yields over time.”

 Base Management Decisions on How Much K is Available to the Plant

Although most soils contain large amounts of potassium, relatively small amounts of it are in a form plants can use. Consequently, growers should base management decisions on how much potassium is available when the plants need it rather than on how much potassium is available in the soil.

Potassium uptake in almonds is linear, with as much as 70 to 80 percent of total uptake complete by mid-June. For almonds growing in soils with a low cation exchange capacity (capacity of the soil to hold on to essential nutrients), such as sandy soils and sandy loams, smaller applications made on a frequent basis ensure potassium levels remain at sufficient levels throughout the growing season. For heavier soils like clay, growers can stretch applications further apart.

 Replenish K Lost at Harvest

 University of California Davis (UCDavis) studies show that 76 to 80 pounds of potassium leave the orchard with every 1,000 kernels harvested. To sustain healthy crop production in the long term, growers must eventually replace any potassium that leaves the field at harvest time.

“Replacement of potassium that is lost at harvest is something growers should be working on throughout the year,” says Doll. “To accomplish this, more and more farmers are combining dormant-season banding practices with in-season applications.”

 Prevent Deficiencies with Continued Monitoring

Deficiencies develop gradually over time and visual symptoms can take years before they show up. Plants lacking in potassium often show delayed or stunted growth. Other deficiency signs include inward curling of leaves, discolored leaf tips and marginal scorching. When severe, potassium deficiencies can increase the loss of fruiting wood, which results in reduced crop loads.

Continued monitoring and fertilization in the orchard helps growers build and maintain K at levels where deficiencies are less of a concern. Regular soil testing, taken a minimum of every three years, can help almond growers identify nutrient trends over time, additionally annual leaf samples help growers keep track of K levels.

“Mid-July leaf samples work well because tissue levels are relatively stable at that time of year,” says Doll. “Take two to three leaves from five non-fruiting spurs for at least 15 to 20 trees across the block. Trees should be 100 feet apart. To maintain sufficient levels across the orchard, UC Davis recommends  shooting for a target potassium level of 1.6 to 1.8 percent.

 Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer Potassium Products

Sure-K® is a clean, chloride-free potassium solution engineered for maximum plant uptake. It has a neutral pH, making it ideal for application with most crop protection products.

Kalibrate is an enhanced-efficiency potassium fertilizer formulated with the added benefit of 6% sulfur. While nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are generally applied to crops in the greatest quantities, including the other nutrients like sulfur are keys to optimal plant growth.

 In cases where it is customary to split seasonal fertilizer needs into a number of smaller applications, Kalibrate may be used for early-season potassium, while Sure-K may be more appropriate for mid- to late-season foliar applications.

While the objective with any fertilizer application is to apply plant available nutrition, many fertility products also contain elements that can have a negative impact on the soil and plant health. The lack of chorine and a near neutral pH found in the AgroLiquid’s family of products makes them a more sustainable option in plant nutrition.

For more information on AgroLiquid potassium products and the company’s full line of other great nutrient solutions for a variety of cropping situations, visit


Side Dress More Than Nitrogen? Yes You Can.

Can you side-dress more than nitrogen? Yes you can.

Side dressing is an effective and efficient way to provide in-season nitrogen to growing crops, but nitrogen isn’t the only nutrient that can be side dressed. Most crops use a variety of nutrients throughout the growing season, and supplying those along with nitrogen in your side dress application is a good way to make sure your crop has the all fertilizer it needs, when it needs it most.