Maybe harvest isn't wrapped up yet for 2014, but likely you're already looking ahead to 2015. With low prices for corn and soybeans on the board, you may be thinking about where you might be able to cut crop inputs without risking yield loss or net profit.
Soil fertility may be one of the places you look. "As good intensive spoil testing program is a very valuable tool," says Jeff Nagel, Lafayette, Ind. He works for a Co-op, Ceres Solutions, and is a Certified Crop Adviser.
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The value of up-to-date soil testing now is helping dollars you can spend on fertilizer go where they will do the most good. "Intensive soil sampling results should allow P and K to be targeted to areas that are below the critical level and more responsive (to fertilizer)," he says.
On the other hand there may be areas that test high and don't need additional P or K right now. "Rates on high-testing areas can be reduced, saving some input costs," he notes. "Think about an annual application for each crop and including actual yield data for crop removal to help in nutrient efficiency."
If some of you typically apply P and K for the next two crop years in a corn and soybean rotation, Nagel is suggesting perhaps you just fertilizer for the crop you will be growing in that field in 2015. He's also suggesting using yield maps from harvest to figure crop removal to help guide in application rates. In areas where yields were high, fertility may need to be replaced, unless soil fertility levels for that nutrient are already very high.
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Starter fertilizer is another area where you may be able to make adjustments, Nagel says. If you've been using half liquid nitrogen and half 20-34-0, you might be able to do it more efficiently and save a few bucks if you go to three-fourths liquid N and one-fourth 10-34-0, for example."
For more corn news, corn crop scouting information and corn diseases to watch for, follow Tom Bechman's column, Corn Illustrated Weekly, published every Tuesday.