Avoid Nutrient Management Hiccups

  • Aug 02, 2016
Avoid Nutrient Management Hiccups
Targeted nutrient management is a goal shared across our industry, especially with nitrogen issues at the forefront of many conversations. Whether we are using models, imagery, tissue tests or soil tests, it’s important to ensure we are managing nutrients carefully and using technology tools that can help enable more precise applications.
 
Optimizing yield from selection to harvest
As you get ready to plant corn, think about that seed’s potential, which is highest the day you plant it. Its success depends on optimizing the genetic potential of the plant. You may know a hybrid has the genetics to reach 500+bu/ac because it’s happened in the last two years; but the work doesn’t stop there. It’s our job to determine how we can maximize efficiency in a particular environment to gain the highest yield possible through management of nutrients, population, pest pressures and more.
 
Now push a ball up a mountain. Seriously.
Think about nitrogen as a big, heavy ball that you need to push up a mountain in order to obtain optimal yield. As you make fall, spring or in-season nutrient applications, you are beginning the challenging task of moving that ball closer to the summit.
 
If you are not optimizing your applications for each hybrid and/or not keeping sustainability in mind, you’re letting the ball slide backward. Each sign of deficiency in a corn plant should be viewed as a red flag or a missed management opportunity, causing that big, heavy ball to slip back down. You’ve just capped the yield potential of that field, and as you chase after that ball trying to gain on it through more applications, you are already too late.
 
Tech tools can create proactive managers
As the mountain example illustrates, we often become complacent with technology tools and turn into reactive managers. Here are a few ways that tech tools can help us be proactive.
  • Models can help you monitor in-season variables and make decisions. For example, you can see unfavorable weather in the forecast or look at response to nitrogen (RTN) scores and realize your hybrid might be hungry for nitrogen to drive an increase in bushels. Models can indicate optimal rates and ensure that that crop never falters on its way to achieving its highest yield.
  • In-season imagery can help you optimize nutrient placement by correcting for deficient areas and driving yield optimization in others.  
  • Tissue and soil samples can be paired with models and imagery to provide more insight into what a plant is enduring.
 
So use technology tools to propel your management decisions. This will help enhance your crop and give you a better shot at achieving high yield potential.