Corn and Soybean Nutrient Management
It’s that time of year again. The time to start planning for success in the season ahead. Of course, as a seed company, LG Seeds values the importance of choosing the right hybrid and variety for your fields. While the seed is obviously a huge part of the yield equation, fertility is still one of the main factors impacting your yield.
Evaluating soil fertility is a vital part of the planning process for next year. Through soil testing, whether it be zone based, grid sampled or a simple composite sample, we can evaluate yield limiting nutrients. Obviously, N P and K are very important and the starting point we need to make sure there’s an ample supply of throughout the growing season. However, there are 13 other essential nutrients that plants need for crop production. If we can identify and work to correct anything that could be considered yield-limiting, we should be able to raise our overall yield levels.
Why Soil Fertility Matters
A great way to visualize this concept is to think about your yield levels like a whiskey barrel. Each ring around that whiskey barrel is a certain yield level. If you have a stave that is shorter than the rest, your whiskey barrel will only hold enough water as the shortest stave will allow. When we apply that to crop production, if you are lacking even one micronutrient that you need very little of in the overall scheme of things, but is critically low for the yield level you’re aiming for, that is the stave that will only hold so much water and, thus, will limit your yield level.
A nutrient that we commonly see deficiencies of in corn and soybeans is zinc. Soils that are coarse, high pH and low organic matter tend to display the highest risk for zinc deficiency. Zinc is essential to produce chlorophyll and several other plant enzymes involved with growth regulation, so a lack of zinc (even though it doesn’t take much) can greatly reduce yield potential. Crop removals are approximately .15# of zinc for 150 bushel/acre corn. Even if you have ample amounts of Zinc within the soil profile, the plant’s root system needs to intercept it for plant uptake. With root interception being so important, banding zinc in dry or liquid form can greatly increase the amount available for plant uptake.
There are other nutrients that we commonly see deficiencies of in corn and soybeans, but Zinc deficiency is just one example of the importance of soil testing to identify and correct prior to seeing a deficiency. I encourage you to take the time this fall or next spring to evaluate your soil’s fertility and do your best to correct any deficiencies you may have. Do not let that short stave be the reason you don’t have success in the growing season ahead.