Fertilizer Program Sustainability in Corn 2011-2015

Senior Research Manager, Dr. Jerry Wilhm discusses how and why the lower applied rates of AgroLiquid nutrients are sustainable and more efficient in feeding the plant the nutrients it needs to thrive. In this short video, Dr. Wilhm further demonstrates this through a four-year sustainability study from the North Central Research Station (NCRS).

Download a pdf version of Fertilizer Sustainability in Corn

Research Field Days 2015

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: NCRS Video…on the set

So a couple times this summer at the NCRS we made a video about progress through the season. You can see the first two on the agroliquid web site at the bottom of the home page.  They are NCRS Progress Series Episodes 1 & 2.  Well now we are in field crop harvest, and that would indicate that it was time for Episode 3.  So we did just that last Thursday. Our regular crew from Creative Services was on the job once again.  So it will be good.  And of course it was cold and cloudy, this being fall and all.

I gave the welcome and related progress since Episode 2, which included the Research Field Days. There will be footage of that in Episode 3, so if you were there, check it out soon for your cameo.

One cool new feature that Creative Services has now is a video drone.  I’ve seen footage of what they have done with the drone previously at at the Field Days and was anxious to see it here during harvest.  Here is pilot Mike getting ready for liftoff.  That’s a cell phone on the controls that serves as a camera monitor showing what the drone “sees”.

Up, up and away.

I looked over Mike’s shoulder to see the aerial shots of the combine and scaled grain cart working their way through the plots.  Mike is a good pilot and Episode 3 will be quite a visual extravaganza. 

I was so focused on the video images that I forgot to take a picture of the cell phone monitor.  So here is an artist’s reconstruction of what I was seeing.  This artist is quite good.  It really looked like that. 

Next we went inside the farm office to show Stephanie on the job taking test weight and grain moisture measurements of the corn samples from each plot.  She did a good job on camera, having done this a time or two in the past.  Or maybe it was thousands.  Many thousands.

Couldn’t do an NCRS video without a fruit and vegetable segment.  In something new, Brian gave an overview on strawberry fertility in answer to a video question from a grower.  He also talked about the massive amounts of food donated to the Mid-Michigan Food Bank over the years.  It’s up to around 200,000 pounds in recent years.

So that was fun.  Look for the premier of Episode 3 coming soon to a website near you.

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: More Harvesting

Plot harvest at the NCRS has been a challenge this year.  Wet weather has kept the harvest crews out of the field for extended times.  But the field crop crew has been putting in long days through the weekend.  I went out last Thursday to see what was going on.  Over on Farm 5,  Phil unloads soybeans from a plot into the scaled grain cart.

Stephanie watches the weight numbers roll up.

 Then she punches the weight into the mounted iPad.  It is linked to the computer in the NCRS office and records the number in the program, so that when the harvest for the test is complete, the data is already summarized.  That is something new this year that will make data summary much easier. Good thing since there are over 1800 individual field crop plots set for harvest in 2014.  (By the way, that’s MSU intern Kalvin driving the tractor.  Although I guess his internship is over, so now he is just a regular NCRS researcher.  We are very fortunate that Kalvin was willing to continue working this fall around his busy MSU class schedule.)

Over on the Specialty Crop Crew, Jake and Brian have borrowed a grape press from Kalvin, and go to work making juice from the Concord Grape plot harvest.  I tried it.  It’s good!

Over on Farm 7 there was a sugarbeet experiment being harvested.  Recall that we have six-row plots, but harvest the middle four rows.  Here is what they look like after the topper has removed the…tops.  Why else would it be called a topper?

Now the beet lifter lifts the beets out of the ground.  Why else would it be called a lifter?  The beets are dumped into the tank and there is a scale and monitor that reads the weight for that plot.  Still remarkable compared to the old ways and days when I actually worked there.  Yes it’s an old lifter, but it works just fine for these plots.  That’s Jeff at the helm of the tractor there.  And Ron on the dump trailer tractor in the back.

Determining the plot weight is just the first step with sugarbeet harvest.  Beets need to be graded for per cent sucrose plus several other quality measurements.  This is how the payment to growers is determined, and these can be affected by fertilizer inputs.  So plot samples need to be collected.  Here Tim collects some beets from the back door installed on the lifter tank.  These will be taken to the Michigan Sugar Company lab for evaluation.  The beets are then unloaded into the trailer there and then dumped in a row along the road for collection to be taken to a sugarbeet piling ground for transport to the sugar company plant.  Tim also punches the weights into the iPad here too.

After all of that, the lifter moves on to the next plot.

Round and round they go.  That’s the way all of the field plots are harvested here at the NCRS.  You are usually too busy to get dizzy though.

LIVE FROM THE NCRS: Weekend Warriors

So the rainy weather has gotten in the way of soybean harvest, but the past weekend provided some good days to get some harvesting and wheat planting completed.  Stephanie gave me these pictures to show how she spent her weekend.  This view of the combine cutting 30″ row beans shows that the border rows are cut first and then the middle four rows are harvested for yield determination.  We always remove border rows no mater the row spacing or crop being harvested.

 Round and round they go.  Here is Stephanie’s view from the scaled grain cart following Tim in the combine.  And who is that in the tractor?  Why it’s our dedicated CEO Troy.  He was glad for the opportunity to step in and help on the weekend.  He is often seen hiding in the bushes looking longingly at the operation of all the field equipment that he has bought for us.  So occasionally it is good to let him take the wheel.

 Impending sunset makes for a nice view of finishing up a test on Farm 5.

Sadly the rain has returned on Monday and Tuesday.  But it’s good for the wheat.  (Trying to look on the bright side of the gloomy day.)

Planter Fertilizer Comparisons in Irrigated Corn Real Farm Research. Aurora, NE

Experiment Info 2013

Planted: 5/6
Variety: DKC 63-84
Population: 32,000
Row Spacing: 30”
Previous Crop: Soybeans
Plot Size: 4 rows x 153’
Replications: 2
PRE: 4/29
Harvest: 10/27

Soil Test Values (ppm)

pH: 7.1
CEC: 25
% OM: 3.3
Bray P1: 33
K: 406
S: 20
% K: 4.2
% Mg: 8
% Ca: 88
% H: 0
Zn: 1.55
Mn: 87.3


Compare several planter applied fertilizer options for effect on yield of irrigated corn. In this part of South Central Nebraska, a typical corn fertilizer program is a fall application of 200 lb-N per acre and then 5 gal/A of 10-34-0 applied in the seed furrow at planting. This experiment compared several planter-applied fertilizer applications in comparison to no planter fertilizer. They included the standard 5 gal/A of 10-34-0, a half rate of Pro-Germinator + Micro 500, that treatment with the sulfur fertilizer eNhance, and then this combination but with 5 gal/A of Pro-Germinator. The soil test P is high at 33 ppm as is the soil test S at 20 ppm. But yield expectations are high with this furrow-irrigated corn. Yield results appear in the chart.


• All planter fertilizer treatments yielded significantly higher than the no planter fertilizer treatment. (At the 0.2 level of probability).

• The highest yielding treatment was the higher rate of Pro-Germinator with Micro 500 and eNhance. But there was no statistically significant difference between the planter treatments.

• Numerically there was a yield increase with the addition of eNhance, which is a good way to add sulfur fertilizer.

Corn Planter Applied Sulfur Fertilizer Options for Corn (13-716)

Experiment Info13-716

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 evaluated planter applied sulfur options in corn. Environmental air cleanup has greatly decreased the amount of free sulfur a corn crop receives each year. Because of this, growers should apply sulfur in order to research optimum yield. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers has 3 sulfur options that can be used for planter applications. The first option is eNhance, which is 8.7% sulfur and also contains Manganese and Zinc. This product is safe for
in-furrow applications on corn up to 3 qt/A. The other two options are accesS (17% sulfur) and S-Calate (14% sulfur). Neither of these products are recommended for in-furrow applications, but are safe for a 2×2 application. The difference between the two has to do with the soil requirements for calcium. In soils that have lower calcium levels, use S-Calate, as it contains 1% calcium. This experiment compares an in-furrow fertilizer program with and without the addition of 2 qt/A eNhance and a 2×2 fertilizer program with and without the addition of 2 qt/A access. Yield results appear on the chart below.


• Both sulfur sources, eNhance and accesS, increased yield over the comparable no-sulfur treatment. However, the yield increase with eNhance was statistically significant.

• There was no yield difference observed between the same fertilizer program applied in-furrow or 2×2.

• Highest yield was reached with an in-furrow application of 2 qt/A eNhance, with a 10 bu/A yield increase over the no sulfur treatment.

• It should be noted that current recommendations of accesS is closer to 2 gal/A. However, this experiment applied equal rates of both products for evaluation.

Getting More For Less Webinar

starkeyNo-tillers can’t afford to waste money on applied fertilizer. Neither can the agriculture industry continue to watch these resources negatively impact watersheds without expecting possible severe regulations. Nobody knows that any better than no-tiller Mike Starkey of Brownsburg, Ind., whose farm lies right at the base of the Eagle Creek Watershed that supplies the city of Indianapolis its drinking water.

In this live webinar that took place Tuesday, November 26, Mike Starkey reviewed what he’s learned from onfarm trials and the changes he’s made to his fertility-management practices throughout the years. This No-Till Farmer webinar is being made possible with support from Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers.

Here are some of the things that Starkey addressed in this exclusive webinar:

  • Recent onfarm strip trial results that compare the performance of different types of applied fertilizer, including 10-34-0, 28%, liquid fertilizers and/or thiosulfate.
  • Changes that Starkey has made to his applied fertilizer program in the past decade, including a thorough look at timing of application, placement and rates.
  • The impact of cover-cropping systems on his applied nitrogen rates.