This year we saw some amazing yields come off of fields; if you had record yields this year, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back! Don’t forget though, that with these record yields, even more of your nutrients were also used up in your field. If it has been a few years since you have soiled sampled, this may be a good year to do so to see where you are sitting with your nutrients. If you have just been using a maintenance rate of P & K, you may not be replacing all of the nutrients taken off the field.
The best thing you can do for your fields and your soil health would be to grid soil sample your fields and then variable rate your fall P, K, & dry lime. I highly doubt you pulled off completely uniform yields from your fields (if you did, please share your secrets), so why then would you fertilize completely uniform across the whole field? Your higher yielding areas pulled more nutrients off than your lower yielding spots, but maybe the spots yielded lower because there were less nutrients for plant uptake in that area to begin with. This is where grid soil sampling can help us pull together more pieces of the puzzle.
Variable rating your P, K, & lime, also makes sense economically. While it is not a guarantee that you will spend less money by variable rating, it is guaranteed that you will be better utilizing your investment in dry fertilizer by getting it on the field where it is most needed. There are several options when it comes to variable rating and we have numerous plans to best suit your management program.
While spring is the best time to apply nitrogen where N use efficiency is greatest, you can apply fall anhydrous or have us apply liquid ALF to help get your nitrogen needs. If you are going to go out and apply fall anhydrous there are a couple things to keep in mind. The first is, do not apply NH3 until the ground temperature is consistently under 50°F at a 4-inch depth. Iowa State has a great 3-day soil temperature website that can be accessed on the Agronomy page of the Stutsman website under “useful links.” The other aspect to remember is to include a nitrogen stabilizer with your fall anhydrous. Using a stabilizer prolongs the availability of the nitrogen by reducing loss to leaching or denitrification. Stabilizers also help protect the investment you have made in the anhydrous ammonia. It would be a shame to apply anhydrous in the fall only to have a fraction of it available to your crop in the spring. See the NServe feature on the insert for more information.
We have been talking about ALF for several months now and for good reason. ALF is one of those products that once you start using it, I will be very surprised to see you use something else. It is easily applied in the fall or winter, broadcast over the top of your fields. It provides nitrogen in the organic form, which is already available to your crops without any further process and is not susceptible to leaching losses. ALF also has a healthy dose of sulfur in it, which is the fourth major element after N, P, & K. Because ALF is a byproduct of the fermentation process, it also contains sugars that help stimulate microbial activity in your soil. This can really help with the breakdown of residue left on field and is great for corn-on-corn rotations or no-till operations.
No matter what your fall plans include, Stutsmans has the products, knowledge, and people to get it done. Call your agronomy salesperson for more information