The following short article on crop nutrients appeared in the last issue of The Furrow Magazine.
Beware: Nutrient Mining
Is your soil fertility program keeping up with your crop genetics? Data from the International Plant Nutrition Institute shows vast swaths of farmland across the United States may be losing phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) faster than farmers are replacing it with fertilizer.
"Unfortunately, many growers are still fertilizing the way they did before higher-yielding crops were developed," says Dan Froelich, director of Agronomy for Mosaic, a Minnesota based fertilizer producer.
Maintain balance. Nitrogen gets the most attention of all the crop nutrients, but P and K help the crops utilize it best. An Ohio State University study showed a corn yield reduction of 44% when high levels of nitrogen were applied to fields with inadequate K. Similarly, an Oklahoma State University study, showed that adequate levels of P and K doubled nitrogen efficiency in wheat.