Field Crops Webinar Series - Field Crops Webinar Soil Fertility Management - Steinke Camberato

March 7, 2022

Video Transcript

- Thank you for having, or for being with us this evening. My name's Dr. Kurt Stenke, and we have Dr. James Camberato from Purdue University. We're both soil fertility specialists at our respective institutions. So, a number of things we're gonna talk about tonight, we're not gonna go through a couple dozen slides. We wanted to keep the slide number minimal and generate a little bit more conversation and answer some questions, obviously from the title, you can see managing crop fertility when input costs are high and margins are thin. We probably have a lot to discuss tonight. Now, normally, I know the calendar just turned to March. We're talking March Madness, we'd probably be talking, go green, go white and boiler up, right? For our respective institutions with basketball kicking in here in the next couple of weeks. But I think March Madness may also pertain a little bit to fertilizer prices and crop prices where they're at right now, crop prices, where they've come up in the last, geez, probably three, four, five days alone, fertilizer prices too. So I think we have a lot to discuss tonight and we'll kick it over here and start with where fertilizer prices are at. I've talked about this all winter. I think Jim, you've probably talked about this a little bit, all winter too. I always joke looking at the price point of fertilizers, not only will they make you think, they will probably also make you laugh and make you cry in the same thought. So Jim, do you have any comments you wanna start out with, with prices and where they're at right now? - Sure, and most of them have increased in Indiana at at least double from last year and across the board, and we still have issues with availability or perceived availability. So, some of the dealers are not giving a price and they can't guarantee delivery of some fertilizers, mostly around nitrogen. So I think that's concerning for sure. - Yeah, and when you look at where prices are at, so the price point we have on the screen is from about two weeks ago. We know they've probably adjusted a little bit upwards since, but even looking at nitrogen, you're looking at 0.98 a pound, Urea, just over or a dollar, 28, Anhydrase, 0.92 a pound. I was punching some numbers for some other data here in the last couple of weeks. And you don't have to go back all that far. And we were 0.36 to 0.43 a pound nitrogen. So, things have really changed here in the last 12 to 24 months. And in parentheses there, you could see the price increase between now and spring of 20. So planting from two seasons ago. So definitely, not only a pricing issue, but availability, right? I'm hearing all comments about whether you're gonna get enough product, maybe only get half, three quarters, we'll let arrive on time. But if we have an early spring planting, all sorts of questions out there, some of the more specialty products you start thinking, AMS, maybe ATS, things like that, ammonium sulfate, you may not be able to even get a price point on. Other comments, Jim, on nitrogen specifically, what we'll get into a little bit on questions about maybe philosophies and what to do and timings and whatnot also. - Yeah, so I think nitrogen of course, is the hardest nutrient to manage and you can make the biggest mistakes with nitrogen. So it's really, even though we do suggest cutting back based on the results of our research and using an amount that's adjusted for the price of either corn or wheat and the price of fertilizer, it's still gonna be the most impactful nutrients. So you wanna be the most careful with your adjustments in contrast to P and K, where I think it's a much easier decision on where to cut back. - That's a good thought. We'll get into P and K here a little bit. You can look at, even MAP, DAP, we're looking at 85% price increases, Potash 85, 87%, depending where you look. And so, one thing I've been discussing a lot this winter at the winter meetings is there's a lot of events that have probably resulted in some of these price increases, right? Now, obviously, the current events from the last three weeks, what's going on in Ukraine and Russia, undoubtedly have had a little bit of an impact for those of you that don't know. I believe Russia and Belarus, which is right next to Ukraine and Russia. Those are the number two and three potash exporters in the world. So quite a bit of potash comes out of those two countries. So that has become an issue. I think energy volatility has been an issue over the last six to nine months. Now, obviously we've seen it in the last three weeks. I think if anybody has filled up their gas tank here in the last four days, welcome to modern times, I guess, but definitely volatile energy markets have caused some of these fertilizer price increases. Jim, you got other comments on what has caused some of the price fluctuations? - Yeah, so I did hear a fertilizer agronomist for one of the big fertilizer companies give a talk. And he mentioned at that time, the potential unrest in Russia and Ukraine and the energy costs in Europe and demand from China and India for fertilizer is also very large in expanding, expanding greater than here in the US. And he's stressed that this is a world market. And even if we don't buy potash from Russia and Belarus, that their customers, if they can't be satisfied, they'll be competing for potash from the producers that we normally buy from as well. And then he also mentioned the logistic of moving stuff around and just like every other good, the trucking and shipping and has been hindered and made more expensive. And they also have labor in some of their operations that are reducing the outputs as well. So there's many, many factors that are all working with each other to make prices higher. And none of them are really counteracting the effects of others like sometimes you'll see. - You have sparked interest. So let me get a couple of questions in here. Did the flooding issue with Canada or Canadian potash mine clear up? - The presentation, I heard the agronomist said that that was contributing to the price. So he didn't say whether the mine had been reopened or not, but he did say that that all contributed to the increase in prices. With it being shut down for some length of time, if not still. - Okay, do you think long term there will be fertilizer, i.e phosphate and potash limitations that would probably lead to expecting green nitrogen to be more available or maybe brown, right? - I think things will eventually return to normal. It may not be next year, things are dragging along, we know with the COVID how long that's drug along and those logistic issues won't be settled, don't seem like they'll be corrected soon. And the labor issues won't be corrected relatively soon, but I think eventually we have substantial reserves of fertilizer throughout the world. So if we can get back on track, I think there'll be plenty of fertilizer available in the future. - Okay, and you've touched on this a little, so you may feel like you've answered it and we can move on, 'cause it is a question we got from a webinar last week, actually, but these big yields are in part dependent on fertility, with all of its geopolitical bickering, are US farmers secure insourcing all of the fertilizer needed from imports? Do you see any major supply issues from other countries? Can you look into the magic ball you have and tell us Jim? - And again, in the presentation that I heard, the agronomous stress that the US is not driving demand that China and India are driving demand and they're willing to pay more for fertilizer than we are. And so if supplies are limited, for whatever reason, if it's just transportation or it's actually mining and processing, countries willing to pay more are gonna have their needs satisfied first. - Yeah, and I think there's probably a couple other issues contributing to some of the price hikes. You start looking at some of the tariffs, I think on Moroccan phosphate that were initiated, I believe last year to level the playing field. You look at the flow of natural gas into Europe for fertilizer production, is controlled from the Russia or their abouts. And so some of that production was shut down so that they'd have enough natural gas to get through the winter. I think we talked about earlier, before the call started tonight, the need in China to rebuild some of the swine herds that were taken out from the swine flu, within the last couple of years. So really pushing grain production to beef up their livestock herds. And so all of those issues are really, occurred before what's happened in the last three weeks. And so I think what's happened in the last three weeks, has undoubtedly exacerbated some of this issue and the question remains is, are these transitory or not, right? Are these gonna be short term? Are they gonna live on? And I think if we go back two years ago, I don't think anybody thought a toilet paper shortage would last as long as it did or car chips for GM Ford, et cetera, and it's carried over to everything, right? I joked all winter. You couldn't even get cream cheese for the holidays, right? To make your cheese cake. So it's not surprising that we have some of these issues. I don't see them going away anytime soon. And I think we'll get a good read here pretty quickly on both probably cost where it's headed short term and then supply needs, obviously giving that we're already end of the first week in March. - Applying this a little, any changes you'd recommend to a pre-side rate nitrate testing program this year, or whew, pre-side dress nitrate program this year, sorry, whew. - Well, we generally recommend that if folks are spreading manure or maybe if they have a well established legume cover crop that they've plowed down. Normally in Indiana, we don't use it for normal fertilization without having manure or legumes in the rotation. Because if you take a sample and you find somewhere between five and 12 parts per million and you just put on the recommended amount of Nitrogen. So, I wouldn't see expanding the use of the PSNT beyond the situations with manure and legumes. How about you, Kurt? - Oh, exactly. If you have a lot of pre-plant fertilizer put down, PSNT would not be recommended or suggested, again, manure and leguminous crop scenarios. And then keep an eye a little bit, not just on that PSNT test, make sure you take it at the right time and then have some idea of when you applied last fall, that manure application, right? Were the soil still warm? Were they above 50 degrees Fahrenheit? Were they below? All those measurables can really target a better idea of how much end will become available this growing season. - Do you think a 30 pound nitrogen credit for soybeans is a good number, or should you base it more upon your actual yield? - Well, I guess the research that I'm familiar with has found that, you can't really make adjustments based on yield, on soybean yield. And we've gone to call in a continuous corn penalty. And our research has shown the penalty is more like 40 to 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre. And so corn and rotation with soybeans would have a 40 or 50 pound and per acre, less recommendation. - Yep, and one thing probably we should mention too, Jim, to keep in mind is when you look at the MRTN tables that all the north central states have, that recommendation in many of those tables is already built in to that system with corn falling soybean, having less end recommended than corn on corn or continuous corn. So there would be no additional end credit to that number. - Right. - I still got a couple more, you wanna keep going? - Yeah, go ahead, Monica, yeah, go ahead. - Okay, I keep, sorry, what trends are you seeing a nitrogen efficiency? That's all I got, sorry. - Well, a number of factors, we could look at inefficiency in number of ways, right? There's nutrient efficiency, there's plant efficiency, there's efficiency from a business or economic perspective. So there's a number of factors there. We know the amount of N required per bushel of production has decreased over the last several decades, right? And one of the things I always talk about with growers too, the earlier you apply your end in the season, you increase the number of opportunities to lose that end, right? And so, one thing to look about whether you go pre or at plant or side dress or combination, or two or three of those, do you know more, 30 to 40 days into the growing season than you do at planting time? I always throw that question out there. And in many cases, the answer is yes, right? You can look at last year, here in south central Michigan, 30 days after corn planning, many of our counties still didn't have a drop of rain. We were dry as can be for that mid April, the mid-June period before we got that three day monsoon that third week of June, where we got eight, nine inches of rain. And so from an efficiency perspective, again, frame it like that, that you know more the later you get into the growing season, if you can hold off on an application longer, you tend to be a little bit more efficient. Now that's not always guaranteed or the case, but we tend to know a little bit more as we get several weeks into that season after playing, then we do pre-plant or at plant. Jim, how about you? - Yeah, I agree. The longer you wait up until maybe V6, V7, where you can still use standard equipment, the better off you are. And some seasons, it doesn't matter. It depends on the rainfall and temperature regime, but overall, most of the time you're gonna benefit from applying the nitrogen in season. And the further you get away from that, then the more opportunity you give for leaching or saturated soils that cost denitrification. So, I know when I first started here in Indiana and I came from a place where no one in there would ever put on nitrogen other than right before plant in season, because it was warm and there was sandy soils. So I came here and was shocked that somebody put their nitrogen out in October the year before, and then they wanted to know how much was left. Well, when did you put it out? What was the temperature like? How did you put it out? What was the temperature like? How much rainfall did you get? And how does that temperature in rainfall coincide? And that's like November, December, January, February, March, like five months. So, it's really difficult to know what happened in that five months, for sure. And so, not only could you have had loss, even if you didn't have loss, you have tremendous uncertainty and know if nitrogen's really cheap, well, you just buy more than you thought you want, maybe more than you need, but especially with prices really high and availability short, doing anything you can to reduce the chance for loss and minimize the uncertainties is a really good idea. - And you bring up a great point too. And soil temperature is one of those things that we don't pay attention to all that often in the fall, right? And so also working with root crops, it becomes a little bit more of an issue here in Michigan when we work with something like sugar beet production. So I've looked at soil temperatures up in some of those beet production regions up in the farm. And if you look at when that soil temperature permanently dropped below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and you go back to maybe let's say the 90s, it happened usually between about October 6th to the 15th, somewhere in that range. Now, when you look at that, it's almost a month later about November 5th to the 10th. And so soils are staying warmer a little bit longer in most years, not all years. And so that becomes an issue, especially with the lot of those fall in applications and a lot of those manure applications that many people don't recognize or think of. - Well, I'm sorry, Jim. - Oh, I was gonna say here in Lafayette, we looked at the temperature for an 11 year period and one year it was the last week in October when temperatures got to 50 and stayed below 50, and another year, it was the first week of December. - Wow. - So quite a bit of variability and the other- - That's incredible. - Yeah, and the other thing to think about when I dug out the research that defined this 50 degree temperature, there was one soil where 45 degrees, the conversion of ammonium to nitrate was pretty slow, but in another soil that was at a higher pH, it only took like five weeks for all of the ammonia to convert over to nitrate. And so we often have these falls where the temperature just hang in there for a long period of time. And so you can get a significant conversion in one of those, warmer than average what we consider average falls. And so then you have a lot of nitrate at risk. So from that standpoint, the longer you wait in the fall or early winter, the better off you are. - I've got another nitrogen question. And then I got one more potash question, and then I'll let you do this slide, all right? - All right. - When you recommend applying the last in season in application, when do you recommend applying the last in season in application? Sorry, V6, V12 or later? - So, it probably between the two of us, it's gonna vary a little bit by your latitude and where you you're at, right? So the further north we get into Michigan, I always say it takes a fewer number of suboptimal growing degree days to really have a larger impact 'cause we just don't have the growing season to recover, right? And so some of this depends on what you did pre-plan and at plant, right? So it always gets caught up into is V6 rate or is V12 rate, right? Well, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. As a standard management, we haven't seen in Michigan great success with the late vegetative side dress application as a standard. Now, we've tend to see a little bit better with that V4, V6 than we have at V12. But a lot of it depends on, you gotta give that corn plant enough gas or enough fuel to get to your side dress application timing. So what we found, if you go out with, let's say 40 units, even in a two by two, you can get to V4, V6, no problem. But that is not sufficient to get to your V10 to V12 window. You almost nearly have to double that. You're probably in that 60 to 80 units event to get to that late vegetative side dress. And so for us a little bit earlier has tended to work a little better. Now that does not mean if we get into one of these wet Springs, wet early summer patterns and can't get your side dress out, and you get to V12 R1 that you shouldn't use a rescue N application. Absolutely get that N out as soon as you can. But just as a standard management, we have tended to have a little bit more success with that more traditional V4 to V6, V7 range than saving everything for that late vegetative. But a lot of it, like I said, depends, you gotta give that plant enough and to get to that side dress and application timing. Jim, how about you? - Yeah, same answer, and non irrigated. We did a lot of research and we concluded that you shouldn't do it on purpose. If you have to apply nitrogen beyond that standard time in a rescue application, then so be it. And in a couple of our experiments where we waited to V12 and V15, we were able to make 240 bushels with a late application and was the same, or almost the same as the standard application timing. But other times, particularly when it got dry later in the season, we lost a lot of bushels. And then we did some experiments where we just put a little on later, we just held back 50 pounds of nitrogen. Sometimes that was a slight benefit, less than five bushels the acre. And sometimes it was a detrimental five bushels to the acre. So it was a wash. So again, don't do it on purpose, but if you need to rescue corn, you couldn't get out there. I think you have a lot of leeway to put on nitrogen late. Now, irrigated would be a little bit different. We would recommend nitrogen going on up V12 or a little beyond with split applications, particularly on sandy soils, because then if you're irrigating properly, the soil is always pretty much full of water and you get any rainfall, then you have the opportunity to lose a lot of nitrogen. And so it's more likely to be beneficial to split the application and you don't have to worry about it being too dry later in the season and not being able to utilize that nitrogen that went out late. - Yeah, you bring up a good point there and our non irrigated producers, when you wait till late and you don't get that rain to wash it in, some of that end, still has to get uptaken in the plan. And sometimes we don't get those mid to late June to early July rains to assist with that. So, great questions. We're gonna change gears here a little bit and talk a little bit about phosphorus and potassium, 'cause that might be where a lot of your savings might come from this growing season. So Jim, do you wanna handle? - Sure. - To what you got? - I think P and K is your low risk savings. And the recommendations we've made in the tri-state region have always been considered very conservative. And we have a buildup maintenance philosophy where we suggest a level in the soil that's not gonna limit yield. And traditionally, we would make a recommendation to try to maintain those non-limiting soil test levels. So, what I mean by non-limiting is that they're sufficient to make maximum yield. And we're just putting fertilizer on there to keep 'em in that range. And some people call that a feed the soil approach. And there's a lot of advantages to that. If you own your own land or you have long term arrangements to farm somebody else's land, but from this year's profit standpoint, that's not the way to go. And if fertilizer is real expensive or you can't get it, or you can't get enough of it, those are the fields where you're gonna make more money by not putting out fertilizer than you will by putting out fertilizer 'cause the soil has enough in it to support maximum growth of the crop. So there's really very little risk. If you have adequate or above adequate soil test levels and skipping an application this year. You really need to consider the soils that are deficient, that are below the critical level. And those you wanna think about fertilizing, maybe not with the standard recommendation, but at least with some P or K if your soil test levels are low. - Yeah, one analogy I've used quite a bit is, think of the soil as a bank, right? You go to the bank and you make a deposit, you deposit your check, et cetera. But when you fertilize soils, you're making a deposit, right? And so, if you're well above critical, you might be okay this year to make a withdrawal, right? Instead of making a deposit and it's okay, you gotta know where those critical levels are at, but use what you've accumulated, where you are above critical. So you can see what the little graph we got on the right hand side of the screen, that optimal level yield response to fertilizers, not expected. And everyone needs to realize with both P and K, that soil test level indicates the probability or the likelihood of seeing a response when we're below critical, the likelihood of seeing that response to P and K application increases. It's not automatic, just like when you're above critical, it's not automatic that you're not going to see any response all the time, but it's a good measuring stick to keep in mind. And the other thing we wanna point out is that with our maintenance applications, it's crop removal for P or crop removal plus 20 pounds of K2O for K. Michigan does not have that additional 20 pounds of K2O per acre for K. And the reason for that is we have a lot lower CC production soils specifically for corn and soybean than Indiana and Ohio do. And so our data have never shown that that additional 20 pounds of K was needed. And that's also written into those specific tri-state recommendations. - Well, it is important to know what the critical levels are. And we put this chart up here for phosphorus in the left. You'll see what at the Mehlich-3 extract, the critical level is 20 parts per million. And the recommendation goes to zero at 40 parts per million. Now some of you might receive your soil test in pounds per acre, and those numbers would be 40 and 80 in pounds per acre. And then wheat, if you have wheat in the rotation, we suggest you maintain a higher soil test level because the demands for wheat are higher. It needs a higher soil level to have enough. And typically, we would recommend, when you put phosphorous out to have it prior to that wheat crop, because of that extra need for phosphorus. - Yep, exactly, typically with wheat, we try to aim to take a look at that soil test level for P and K prior to winter wheat planning in the autumn. So typically, that 30 to 50 window is key to focus on. For potassium now in the updated tri-states, we changed those a little bit. They used the be based primarily on CEC. We no longer necessarily have that per se. We broke it up into coarse and fine textured soils, right? So looking at coarse texture soils, which we group into CC of five and under, critical levels would be about 100 part per million. And then that maintenance range goes from about 100 to 130. With your fine texture or finer textured soils, those CCs above five, that critical level becomes about 120, with that maintenance range, 120 to 170. So, we know soils change as you go across the field, right? So, if you start looking at your loamy sands, your sandy loams, those tend to get a little bit more difficult of an issue. Those soils that are a CC of maybe between five and seven or five and seven and a half. And sometimes that soil variability changes quite quickly. I think we've all been on fields where you can walk 10, 20 feet one way or the other, the soil texture changes every 10, 20 feet. And it's not necessarily induced by topography across that field either. So have an up-to-date soil test and know what those critical levels are for both something like phosphorus and potassium. Crop removal rates for corn, soybean, and wheat have been adjusted in the new tri-state recommendations. So you can see for corn, we're looking at about 0.35 and 0.20, P2O5 and K2O per bushel, soybean 0.8, 1.15, and wheat down a little bit to 0.5 and 0.25 pounds of P2O5 and K2O for bushel. Jim, you got any comments on removal rates? - Well, Kurt, that's a question I get almost every time when I talk about removal rates, and we say they've gone down per bushel and people ask, well, why did they go down per bushel? What does that mean? And I always say that means the plant is more efficient, that it's able to make more grain per unit of nutrient, that it takes up and puts into the grain. So I think that's a good thing. Now on an acre basis, because the yields have increased so much where actually removing as much or more from the field of the season, even though the amount that's in a bushel is reduced. - But it doesn't necessarily mean we need to apply more P and K, right? - Right. - It goes back to get that up-to-date soil test, right? - Yeah, right. - A lot of it always comes back to having that up-to-date soil test. Yeah, go ahead. - Oh, I was gonna say, and the other thing that we're talking about removal and pounds per acre, and that's the correct way to think about it. Really, we should be thinking about soil tests as a concentration and not an absolute quantity because soil tests doesn't measure all of the nutrient that's available to the crop. It just measures a portion that is correlated to the amount that's available, that will become available. And so for several reasons, you can't just say, well, I took out a 100 pounds and my soil test is gonna go down 100 or my soil test was only 30 and you're telling me the plant's gonna take up 100. I don't have enough, I gotta add 70, just soil tests doesn't work that way. It's an index or an indicator of the sufficiency level. It doesn't really represent an absolute amount. - Yep, and as you're sitting home tonight, wherever you are, make sure you look at the date on that last soil test that you have for those specific fields. Time flies, you might think you sampled that two years ago and it might be four or five or six years ago. And so, that would be one caveat. This would be the year given where prices are to have an up-to-date soil test. - So Kurt, I still get emails and phone calls from people that wanna send Purdue, a soil sample, and the lab closed 25 years ago. So that's their frequency of sampling, 25 years. - Every 25 years, huh? That might be why the lab closed, right? - Yeah, that's right. - One question I get, if a grower's sitting at home tonight thinking, how much will my soil test levels change if I decide not to add potash or a K this year, and there's some general good rules to flame out there. If you look at 180 bushel corn grain, we just had the number up there about 0.20 pounds of K2O removal per bushel, gives you about 36 pounds of K2O per acre removal. Some general guidelines that we've used over the years, it takes about eight to 20 pounds of K2O to change that soil test potassium by about one part per million. And that's a pretty broad range, right? And those coarse textured soils, it's gonna be a on the low end down there around eight on those finer, highly buffered soils could be closer to that 20. But if you use an average in between there, let's say about 12, you can divide your 36 by 12 and you see that about three, or excuse me, three part per million decrease in your soil test potassium, that example on the bottom, same thing. You look at 60 bushel soybeans, look at removal rates, plug and chug some numbers. You're looking at about double the rate, right? About six part per million decrease in soil test potassium. That's one of the reasons why we always talk about potash being so important to soybean production because soil test level will drop more with soybean than corn grain. - But those changes are pretty slow. It's slow to go up, slow to go down. So again, a one year, if you have adequate levels, then you don't fertilize for one year. You're not dropping from adequate to deficient unless you're right on the borderline. So, it'll take a few years to reduce the soil test from the high end of the maintenance range down to the low end of the maintenance range. So you have a buffer in when might be the next time you need potash to replace what was removed and you don't have to replace everything that was removed. You just gotta keep your soil test above that critical level. If you're in the maintenance, the build up maintenance mode, that's your philosophy. - Yeah, so if you're on the finer textured ground and soil test is looking 160, 170, 180 and higher, more likely than that, you'll probably be okay this year, not applying potash, take a year off and hopefully prices correct themselves, or look a little bit more promising from an input perspective maybe next year or the year after. And those soil tests levels, depending on where they start out at, right? They're not gonna fall off a cliff overnight, but again, it depends how far above critical you are to begin with. Got the same example here on this next slide, looking at, if I decide not to add phosphorus this year, how much will they drop? You can look at 180 bushel of corn grain, 0.3 five pounds per bushel drops at by about 63 pounds of P2O5. And again, we have these general ranges, about 10 to 36 pounds of P2O5 to alter that soil test P by about one PPM, coarse textured sandy soils be closer to 10 finer textured, highly buffered soils, closer to 36. And so, again, in that example, you'd be dropping that soil test by about three parts per million. And in that bottom of example, with soybean grain, I'd be dropping it just shy of three parts per million. And so again, I think I looked last week or the week before, I think the average STP soil test that comes back in Michigan is still somewhere between about 49 and 55 parts per million, right? And that's across general, right? Every county, low CC, high CC, et cetera, multiple cropping systems. So we're still quite elevated. So if you're in that 50, 55 range, you can look at yield potentials depending on what cropping system you're growing. With phosphorus, you'll probably be okay not applying something like P2O5 this growing season. Jim, how about you? - Yeah, for several years, depending on how high you are. So if you're at 50, the difference between 50 and 30 is 20. And if you're only going down three per year, that's six, seven years where you'd be dropping before you drop from the high level down to the critical level. So it's not soil tests, for most soils changes pretty gradually. Now, the core sands, the CCs of two and three, that's where it can drop pretty rapidly and you can't necessarily build it up. So you have to have a different philosophy for potassium on those really sandy soils. They actually retain phosphorus well enough if you don't overdo it, and it recommended soil test levels. The phosphorus will build up and decrease as Kurt showed. But the potassium on the real sandy soils can just disappear over the winter. - And those real sandy soils do exist. I remember working on a potato field, the sandy ground. It was yeah, right on the Michigan Indiana border, had a CC of just under one. Yeah, it's a different ball game, different playing field when you get in those scenarios. But yes, those types of production environments do exist. - Well, yeah, I'll talk about, so I said earlier that the easy decision is if you got plenty already in the soil and you don't need to add more, you got enough to maximize the growth of the crop, your highest profit's gonna be at zero rate of application. Now, when you become deficient, Kurt mentioned you have a higher probability of getting a response. The lower it gets, the greater that chance of getting response and the larger the potential response. And so that's where you wanna concentrate the use of your P and K fertilizer. And I have a recent example here. We started to look at really low soil K test soils. So we depleted these soils on purpose, 'cause we wanted to determine the optimum rate of fertilization, if you were deficient. So a little different philosophy than the buildup maintenance. And so we have three different fields. I have a CEC of about five or six to 11, 10 or 11. And we had soil test levels of 24, 52, and 69 parts per million. So the critical levels, 120, we are well below critical level. At the first site with the lowest soil test, we actually increased the yield of soybeans, 50 bushels to the acre, the other two with the moderate soil test, we increased yield eight and 10 bushels to the acre. And what we wanted to know was, how much fertilizer do we need to add to optimize the profit? Because our standard recommendations, we replace crop removal, we add enough to maximize yield of the crop, then we add a bunch of extra to build the soil up. And some people, even before fertilizer got expensive, don't wanna do this, 'cause they're not gonna farm the field next year. And they don't wanna leave anything behind for the next person. They just wanna know, what do I need to add now to make the most money? And so, that's what we're after. And so, in each of these fields, the orange bar represents the amount of K2O that we had to add to maximize profit with $800 potash, which is about where it is now and $16 per bushel soybeans, which I think is about where it is now. So these are relevant to our current conditions. The soil test that was really low, that we depleted for 15 years, low CEC soil, we needed to add 180 pounds of K20 acre. It's a lot. Our standard recommendation wasn't too far off, we'd only lose $5 an acre. So we're adding a little extra, we're gonna leave some for next year for the next person to utilize, but it was pretty close. Now, some people thought that putting on crop removal or crop removal, plus 20 pounds, K2O per acre, which we do in Indiana would be enough. And you see, it is not enough. We lost quite a bit of yield, well more than we saved in fertilizer. And so we lost almost $100 an acre. So, the further away you are from the critical level, you don't wanna skim, you wanna put that fertilizer out, use it on those fields or the areas in the field that are low. At the more moderate levels that crop replacement plus 20 or crop removal plus 20 was actually pretty good. It was within a dollar of the optimal, and the standard buildup recommendation was too much 'cause we're adding more potash to build the soil up to the critical level, to give us flexibility in the future, to not fertilize when prices are high or commodity prices are low, or the weather's just such that we can't apply fertilizers. So I think our arts standard recommendation really is a feed the soil approach. And we're building the soil up to give the producer the ability to not apply fertilizer when conditions warrant not applying fertilized. But when we get in the deficient area, we can adjust that rate to maximize profit. And I drew this theoretical sufficiency recommendation line on here. It turns out crop removal plus 20 was right at about 50% of the critical level. It was woefully inadequate at lower soil test levels. And we don't know for sure, but when we approach the critical level, well, I can assure you that crop removal or crop removal plus 20 is gonna be too much, that you're gonna lose money there. So maybe it's only 50% of crop removal when you approach the critical level, 'cause the frequency of response is gonna be pretty low. And the magnitude of the response is pretty low. Think about, yeah, we increased yield 10 bushels to the acre, but we were at half the critical level. And these response curves are just like the ones you might have seen for nitrogen where the closer you get to the optimum, the more and more fertilizer it takes to make that additional bushel. - Yeah, so I think your line there, speaks to as you approach critical and drop below critical, it takes longer and longer, more and more fertilizers to build up beyond above critical and your soil samples, a law of averages, right? So if critical's 20 PPM for Fe's, or 100, 120 for K, and you come back at 21 or 22 parts per million Mehlich-3P, there's probably areas of that field that are 23, 24, 25, and that are 19, 18, 17, and lower. And so we use that as a guide, and that maintenance limit or that maintenance zone that we have in there is that buffer, right? Is that buffer, so you can stay above credit to make up for some of that variability that we tend to see between individual soil samples. - Yeah, so really good soil sample's gonna be plus or minus 10 to 15%. That's if you do a really good job, which means 15 soil cores, usually. So you're right. If you're near the critical level, then you wanna be more careful when you get into the upper part close to or above the maintenance limit, then you have a lot more leeway because even if you didn't take a representative soil sample, it's gonna be close enough. But yeah, when you're marginal, then your sampling technique and soil variabilities can bite you. - And our sampling technique at the end of the day is always a little less precise than at the start of the day. The start of when we sampled, especially as we age. Hey, we wanna switch gears here a little bit. We talked a little bit about N, we talked a little bit about P, we talked a little bit about K, and obviously we're not gonna close the night without talking about a couple other items. And one of those is sulfur. So I think both Jim and I have done a lot of sulfur work over the years. I've done a lot on corn and a little bit on soybeans and wheat and sugar beets, a little bit on potato. Jim, you tended to focus little bit more on corn. Why don't you share some of the results there? - Yeah, I think we've had about 40 or 50 experiments over the last four years. And then about 40% of them, we've gotten a response to sulfur. Some fields every year, we get a response and it's pretty big in the 15 to 20 bushel to the acre range and other fields, we've never gotten a response. We're trying to figure out where we can predict a response, because soil testing is really not a good way to figure out if you need sulfur or not. And the typical thoughts are sandy low organic matter soils because the sulfate can leach real easily. And there's not a lot of potential for organic sulfur to be released by the soil. And we have seen some pretty consistent and large responses on sandy, low, organic matter soils. - I don't wanna be the bear or bad news. Sorry, Jim, I was trying to find a spot to jump in here. We are one minute until we have to have it wrapped up. And then we'll go ahead and give credit information so people can jump off. And then from there, we can, 'cause we actually have 10 questions waiting to be it. I tried to give you guys time to catch up and then we'll sign off from there, okay? - All right. - Thanks. - Yep, that picture you see in the bottom right hand corner there too, that is one of those coarse textured low organic matter soils that we worked with, that everything in yellow is without sulfur applications. So yes, we tend to find some of these responses similar to Jim in the same fields every year. In some fields, we don't see a response. With corn, we're probably, I think Jim and I talked 10 to 15 pounds with wheat. I found probably a little bit closer to about 25 pounds based on how wheat grows and coming out of dormancy into green up. Couple of reasons, we got to think two slides here, starter fertilizer, always talk about starter, very prominent and corn and beets and whatnot. Number of reasons, the yield starter, you can see some of those reasons listed there. One of 'em I wanted to highlight is a little bit perhaps greater flexibility for side dressing corn. And this is one of those things, perhaps if you run short on nitrogen going into planting time, and there's the possibility that we might get a little bit of end late are in the season with regards to supply chains and whatnot. Maybe we can get enough to get that plant to that side dress application timing, right? So make sure we try to apply maybe enough two by two, et cetera, to get to that V6, V10 growth period, et cetera, where and hopefully, if and supply becomes an issue that a little bit more might become available. And then the last thing that we wanted to touch on here a little bit is pH, make sure you look at that pH. I've talked all winner that perhaps the most profitable input you might have this year might be lime, but it all depends on where you're at with that pH. I've seen more awkward soil samples come in in the last year, year and a half with really odd pHs than I have probably the previous eight, nine or 10 years. pH si high fours, mid fours, low fours, all across the board. You can see that middle bullet point there where liming tends become a little bit more profitable. So the number listed there is a tipping point. And then in parentheses, we got a target pH for each of those cropping rotations. We'll wrap up tonight, few points to remember, that build and maintain approach that the tri-state follow, that is precisely structured for our current market conditions. What we're currently dealing with, we both agree it, it's okay not to apply if that soil test does not warrant an application, understand how much those STK and STP levels may decrease without application. Your fertilizer savings for this growing season might be the low hanging fruit, your P and K application. But again, it depends on that soil test level, and we talked a little bit there about the importance of sulfur moving forward. We'll put this slide up reminding you of what some of the upcoming webinars are over the next couple of weeks. Got a couple good ones coming up, and Monica, I'll hand it over to you with this statement. And if there is any Q and A questions, perhaps we can stay on and answer for few of those. - Yeah, so I just wanna remind everyone that we need you to fill out a Qualtric survey. Eric just went ahead and posted that post meeting survey link into your chat box. And so with that link, you are gonna go ahead and click on that. It will also be sent in the follow up email, and that's also gonna get you to that RUP credit and CCA credit for viewing this live webinar. With that, we do have 10 in the Q and A, are you guys ready? I've tried to answer some. - Am ready. - Now, I think I know the answer, Daniel asked a question about long term no-till programs and a major disadvantage of not working in P and K. And I wanted to just say, yeah, stratification of the soil, that is a major disadvantage of the other ones, of the nutrients in the soil, I'm sorry, it's stratification of those. - Yeah, they'll become stratified, but the research has found that that's not necessarily a negative because the no-till tends to maintain better moisture in the surface. And also there's a higher proportion of the root system that's in that surface. So even though the P and K become stratified, it's not a negative for crop production. The pH though definitely can become stratified depending on if they're injecting nitrogen, which a lot of people do then, and then you surface apply line. So that's where stratification's a big deal, 'cause you'll acidify down four to eight inches below the surface and your soil sample might not reflect that level. And then it takes a long time for that pH effect to move from surface applied lime down four to eight inches. So that stratification's real important. And people auto occasionally take a zero to four and a four to eight inch sample to check on their pH stratification. - And that's a great point, Jim. I think we had some fields, let's see here. I think the spring of 20, where we had some no-till fields with that pH stratification and the pH was low enough in that upper root zone that the plant stayed stunted for weeks. And then on top of that, we had a couple cold snaps, so those corn roots never grew out of that stunted pH zone until probably early June. The second they did, then it shot up and took off. And a lot of those nutrient deficiency symptoms went away. So it's definitely something to keep in mind in that, no, till scenario. - When you were all talking about sulfur, were you talking about elemental sulfur or sulfate? - Well, usually we apply some form of sulfate or a Thiosol, which becomes sulfate relatively quick. The elemental sulfur tends to convert to sulfate fairly slowly, and maybe it can be part of a sulfur fertilization program, but really you need to have some sulfate there early in the season for the plants to have access to. - And then that's probably where some of those co grand fertilizers come into play, right? Where you get a little bit of sulfate sulfur and a little bit of elemental sulfur for early and late, and maybe multiyear release over time. - Anyone know, and that's probably Jim won't be your particular. I know maybe it is, but I think they're referring to the potash mine that was supposed to start in the Eastern part of the UP. And what's going on with that, has it become operational? What potential impact it will have for Michigan? - I've probably heard that question, I think three times in the last week. - I bet you have. - I'm guessing it has a little bit to do with delivery of product and whatnot. So, I heard that it may have changed ownership once or twice already, since it was proposed. Outside of that, I do not know what is currently the scenario. - It's a former UPI, I can tell you that the locals, they were not happy about that mine going in. And there was a lot of legal things occurring to try to prevent it from even starting. And so I know it was getting quite the pushback from the community. I'm sure that's part of the problem like of it not being open and operational. So, all right. We have a couple questions about, so products, pivot, bio, add anything, (laughs) - Silence, biologicals, right? - Answer live done. - I think our north central group talked about a lot of those products last fall when we all got together, you start talking north, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, and the thing is, I think when you start talking about the microbiome, in some cases, people say it's chasing the rabbit down the hole, right? A lot of those organisms are probably there to begin with, right? Now, they may not be present because the right conditions aren't present and it's gonna vary by, so a moisture, it's gonna vary by temperature, plant response. There's certain communities around, but certain cropping systems. So, I always told the grower, if you wanna try it out, just make sure you do it appropriately, right? And so a lot of those instances, if there's product that says we can save you 25% of your end, well, then make sure you go out with an end rate that's 25% below your 100% end rate, right? So you have something to compare to, you can't just go out at your normal end rate without the product. And then all of a sudden say that this product had such and such response. So you make sure you set up these paired trials appropriately. Jim, how about you? - Yeah, I think the wise thing to do is some testing on your own, the data I've generated with some of these products has suggested that they have in frequent effects, that aren't very large. And I think pivot bio and others like it are difficult because the research results have been pretty variable and not particularly favorable. So, this is probably not the year to go out with one of those products and reduce your end rate by 40 pounds to the acre, unless your end rate is 40 pounds too high, too high. - Yep, and I would also say, make sure as you look at data and whatnot, make sure it's replicated trial data, not just two strips across the field, make sure it's replicated trial data and not testimonials. - Yeah, and there's a YouTube. Tony Vine did a YouTube summarizing a lot of the research. I think Kurt, you contributed to that, and I did as well to some of these nitrogen fixers for corn. So pivot bio and the like, and so if you search for Tony Vine and pivot bio or nitrogen fixation, you should come across it or you can send me an email and I'll send you the link to it. Or Monica, if you do that, and I can send it to you. - Yeah, I'd be happy to do that. - Yeah, and he goes over lots of research and chose an occasional benefit and several trials where there was no difference. - And there was a follow up, and you may have felt like you already answered it, but just a discussion regarding nitrogen fixing inoculants in general, for corn, the attendees said that these products sound like the best thing since slice spread, especially in their ability to resist leaching in a high precipitation season. - Yeah, so in general, for organisms actually, fixing nitrogen is the most energy intensive chemical reaction known demand. And so most organisms don't wanna fix nitrogen if they can get nitrogen in the ammonium or the nitrate form. Now the pivot bio organisms been engineered so that it's less sensitive to inorganic nitrogen. So it doesn't decrease its nitrogen fixation as much as an organism that has a full compliment of these genes. And that have always been the problem with end fixing organisms for non legumes, is that if they're in an environment where there's free nitrate ammonium, they're gonna use it. They're not fixing nitrogen. They are not there are for the benefit of mankind, they're there surviving and reproducing. And so even though the pivot bio organism and specifically has been modified to not have that strong of a reaction to nitrogen in its environment, it seems like it perhaps may still regulate its activity when it's in the plant. The other thing is many of these organisms, they can fix nitrogen if they have to, and they don't when they don't have to, but they also can produce plant growth regulators. And so some of the effects are through the production of plant growth hormones and stimulating the plant to do this or that. And so they can have effects beyond nitrogen, which doesn't mean you can cut back on the nitrogen if their effect is producing more IAA or gibberellic acid or some growth stimulant. So, they're really complex. And Kurt talked about the microbiome, the 10,000 species that are in a gramar soil and et cetera, so, anyway. - I like to think of it trying to take a probiotic for your digestive system, kind of a similar, but a lot of little critters going on there. Do you recommend in serve for spring pre-plant in application? So we're moving from that to a different additive. It's too lazer, right? - Well in serve, that'll be up your allogen, right? - Yeah, so in sandy soils, the research has shown that a spring application can be beneficial and cost effective, but on the soil loam and heavier soils, the spring application doesn't seem to pay for itself. So of course in any one year, it could be beneficial, but overall, it's not necessary. And then in season, only on your coarse sands, and particularly if they're irrigated, would we recommend a nitrification inhibitor like N or something that contains DCD. - Yeah, and one thing to point out with those nitric inhibitors, we've used them quite a bit on wheat too. So, everyone's probably has seen the wheat prices has skyrocketed here in the last week. You can also hold up yield in some cases, too. So if a cropping system like wheat takes up in very quickly over a short time period after green up. And so we've seen instances where you might tie up that in, or keep it from transforming from ammonium to nitrate for too long of a period. And then there's not sufficient end available during that peak period for that wheat plant prior to flag leaf. So, you can have negative effects in instances also, and the big thing with urease inhibitors and nitric inhibitors, we always talk about, you have to have end loss conditions to see a positive response. And if you have an optimal growing season, you're not likely to see a positive response to many of those different products out there. - All right, so we're gonna shift gears. Are you both okay staying on for a couple more minutes? - Sure. - Hopefully, we have five more left. Okay, I'm gonna ask one about micronutrient fertilization, and then we're gonna move into applications. Should we focus more in the micronutrient fertilization this year because NPK prices and availability situation? - I think personally, that will depend on again, what your soil test is for some of those micros that are out there, right? If it's sufficient, then again, the likelihood of seeing response to some of those products is minimal just because macronutrients are more expensive doesn't mean we're likely to see a greater response to micronutrients, in some cases remember, and can drive some of that nutrient uptake through root and above ground plant growth. So it doesn't necessarily mean if you're short and that applying a micro will elicit a better response. And some of these are gonna be site specific, right? I think one of those would be like manganese. We know where we tend to see manganese efficiencies, a little more common. Some of those higher pH dark colored lake bed soils tend to be a little bit more positive response than some of the other micros. Zinc, obviously on something like corn. And then sporadically, we might see a response to boron and a few of the others, Jim? - Yeah, you either need it or you don't. So, it's a good year to, my recommendation wouldn't be any different based on the price of NPK. - All right, they understand that we're best recommendation right now is to soil test every three years, but why not every year? - Well, so soil variability is such that, you have to have big differences really over time to see a difference. And as we showed earlier that soil test levels in most soils change relatively slowly. And so, it's not practical, plus when you look at a year to year basis because of the variability in the soil and the difficulty of taking a good sample, you won't see any real differences, you'll just see noise. So you need several years to see a trend. - And then also with the wet fall that we had, be careful if you normally sample in the autumn and you end up taking a spring sample, when you look back over multiple years, there could be some differences there also between a spring and fall soil sampling. So, we try to do the same time period when possible. - Yeah, so the spring typically will have a little higher pH and the potassium level will be higher normally. - I just had a soil health. I'm at a conference where there's a lot of soil health people. And a great point got brought up is on a lot of our results that have come back with our soil tests. They have organic matter on there, and that can be heavily impacted by when you take the soil test in the current field conditions. So if you're not gonna keep track of it for your nutrients, if you're really taking that organic matter component into stock, you should definitely be tracking when you're taking it in the condition so to try to keep that as similar as possible. - Yeah, and that's something that really changes slowly. - Yes. - Even more slowly than the nutrients, so it takes a long time to see a real change in the soil organic matter or the hummus. Now you can have lots of different amounts of residues and roots and all that in your sample, but the dark soil organic matter that doesn't break down easily, that's gonna change very slowly. - All right, moving on to the application questions, we're down to three, you guys are doing great. You'll only be like a half an hour over once. We still have 80 people on actually, even this far over. It's pretty impressive. You must be somewhat knowledgeable. - Good stuff. - Yeah, so, poor Ned Burkey's been waiting a half an hour to get his question answered, I'm sorry, Ned, if, is 40 pounds of N too and a two by two application? - I guess the question would be too much for what, right? - Yeah, so that's important. - With the two by two, you're far enough away from the seed, so that's not too much, I think we've done lots of two by two gradient studies over the years where we go out 20, 40, 60, 8000, we can hit 80 to 100 in some cases in a two by two and be okay. Now, what I suggest that much, probably not. But again, if you're gonna side dress your corn late, you gotta be in that 60 to 80 window and that two by two. And so the beauty of the two by two, is it's far enough away from the seed so we can apply more nutrient, right? As compared to an inferral or popup application, and that's one of the things that I've gotten into conversations with growers and other researchers over the years is, sometimes we get all caught up in inferral application and we spend 95% of our time thinking about the first three to five pounds event. And then only 5% of our time thinking about the other 160 to 200 pounds event, right? And so with that inferral, we're limited by the soil. Whereas with that two by two, we can provide a little bit more higher application volume. So no, 40 isn't too much, you can get that a little bit higher because it is far enough away from the seat. - All right, Jim, did you wanna add at all to that, or are we good? - I agree, it's plenty for a starter effect. A little lower, it'd be just fine if you weren't, but I agree with Kurt, it gives you some flexibility on when you side dress later and 40 is better than 25, which might be a more normal rate. And y'all not have any trouble with salt or ammonia in that placement with that rate. - Okay, the last two application questions are about Y-Drops. I don't know who would prefer to answer those. Is it efficient way to apply nitrogen? - Let's go first. - It seems to be, we've done a little bit of research and Tony Vine has done some and generally with a late application. And sometimes it's a little better than just dribbling on the surface, we're using a solid shank applicator, and sometimes there's no difference. So, I haven't found it to be negative. It's not positive all the time, sometimes it's equal. And that's with later applications. - Yep, and we've looked at it, looking at Y-Drops versus Coulter inject in that early side dress window. We've also looked at it a little bit later also. And there tends to be when you get into mid to late summer, there's more moisture in the soil than on the soil, right? And so, the beauty with when you Coulter inject is, you put that in where there's a little bit of moisture and those roots can then tap into some of that end. One thing that we've run into is, what we've referred to, and I think we got a publication out on this is the positional unavailability of nitrogen. And so when you put that in, right on the soil surface, and it's a hot sunny June, July day, it's tough. If you don't get rain to get that end, to move down to where that plant can uptake it, we've seen some negative responses by placing that end on that soil surface during those conditions. So again, nothing works all the time. So it's gonna change by infrastructure for the individual grower cropping system, et cetera. But we've looked at both also. - Okay, and then what amount of pre-plant anhydrous ammonia do you recommend applying a non irrigated and a double application where second application would be in the form of a Y-Drop? And this is in Michigan. - Jim, probably do more AA applications than we do. - So how late is the Y-Drop going on? - He doesn't say, just as a second application. - Maybe Addison could type that in. - Yeah, in the meantime, we'll hear from- - Well, half and half wouldn't be bad, the way you have enough up there, up front. And then why I was asking was along Kurt's line of thinking, when are you gonna side dress? And do you have enough nitrogen there to get the plant without limiting its growth? And so if you're gonna go V15 with the Y-Drop, then I would go with more than half of the nitrogen as anhydrous upfront. But if I'm gonna go to V10, which I think is a good time, then half would be probably plenty as anhydrous. - Oh, last time this was used, why was applied end of June, July 1st? - So that's fairly early, isn't it? - Yep. - Yeah, so half up front would be plenty. And it also depends on what the price of nitrogen is. Kurt showed, liquid nitrogen was about 0.20 a pound, more per unit nitrogen than anhydrous. And here, at least in the fall, the difference was more like 0.40 a pound. And so, anhydrous is a great fertilizer 'cause it converts over to nitrate pretty slowly. So I'd air a little heavier on the anhydrous side, if it were cheaper as well.