"Are growers inadvertently limiting their crop yield potential with 'hidden' nutrient deficiencies?" is the question put forth by consulting agronomist Matt Hagny, whose work on continuous no-till cropping systems spans 14 years in Kansas and Oklahoma. After extensive monitoring of various crops in the region, he answers, "Yes, and the problems are widespread, and in some cases severe. Fortunately, corrective measures are low-cost and generally are fairly simple to implement."
"We're finding astonishing micronutrient deficiencies, some of which are unheard of for this region," Hagny continues, who explains that while we tend to think of supplying only nitrogen and phosphorus to the crop with fertilizer, another 12 soil nutrients are exported from the field with each harvest, and the soil doesn't have unlimited ability to supply some of these other nutrients. No-till adoption tends to accelerate the timeline for nutritional deficits to occur, since crop stubble and soil organic matter are 'sinks' for nutrients, and the more abundant soil biology found in no-till must also be fed. However, a solid nutritional program along with good agronomy can produce crop yields and profits that previously were not thought possible, says Hagny, "Micronutrients are absolutely essential for normal plant growth and maximum yield."
To get the word out, Hagny's consulting firm, Pinnacle Crop Tech, has organized a follow-up to last year's very successful Crop Health Workshop. The 2007 event aims to expand the traditional crop fertility mindset and to put practical agronomic information in the hands of the region's farmers, agronomists, and researchers. This year's session again spotlights plant nutrition, and will bring forth the necessary knowledge and tools to achieve better plant health and improved profitability for growers in Kansas and the southern Plains. The Workshop will heighten awareness of the nutritional requirements of crops, going beyond the basics, and delving particularly into the additional management needed to take advantage of the moisture savings of no-tillage cropping.
For the Crop Health Workshop, Hagny teams up with Ray Ward, PhD, founder of Ward Laboratories in Kearney, Neb. Ward has developed and managed several agricultural testing laboratories from Oklahoma to South Dakota, and is highly regarded as a soil scientist. Ward also has particular interest in plant nutrition for long-term no-till, and always has the success of the farmer in mind when separating facts from fiction in today's ag-business culture. Ward emphasizes the view that plant nutritional requirements are ratcheted up with new cropping procedures on the Plains: "Fertilizer needs including micronutrients?have changed for no-till farmers because of increased cropping intensity, improved crop yields, and higher microbe activity."
The Workshop will focus on nutritional management for wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans, cotton, canola, sunflowers, and other crops common in the region. Some aspects of agronomy beyond nutrient concerns will also be covered briefly.
The Workshop runs from 9 AM to 4 PM on Wednesday, the 29th of August, 2007 at the Bicentennial Center, Salina, Ks., with a noon meal provided. Tuition is $200/person in advance, or $275 if received after the 25th of August. To enroll, mail payment to Pinnacle Crop Tech, Inc., P.O. Box 952, Salina, KS 67402 or call 316-303-2040. For more information, see www.AgronomyPro.com.