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Panel: N, P, K no longer enough for starved plants

By Staff | Feb 11, 2011

About three dozen producers attended a seminar on Thursday of the power show on the yield advantages of soil testing for micronutrients, especially calcium and sulfur.

DES MOINES – About three dozen producers sat in on a panel discussion on Feb. 3 concerning the need for applying micronutrients to row-cropped fields.

The seminar was held during the final day of last week’s three-day Iowa Power Farming Show.

Bob Randa, of Midwestern Bio-Ag, based in Blue Mounds, Wis., said soil testing across the midwest is showing soils which are severely lacking in micronutrients and as a result, plants are not getting the full benefit of what is present in the soil.

In addition, he said, “micros” will help plants resist disease and insects because they are healthier.

“If we are going to move to the next level (in yields,”?Randa said, “we have to do more than apply (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium)”

Panel member Jim Fasching, of Midwest Laboratories, based in Omaha.

He said adding “micros” such as sulfate, calcium and boron “will drive your yields more than just N, P and K.”

Panel member Bill Darrington, a producer from Harrison County, said that farmers needed to be proactive in determining their soil’s needs.

“Don’t expect the industry to take care of you,”?he said, adding that many retailers are not knowledgeable concerning micronutrients.

He recommended soil testing and asking specifically for the lab to look at the presence of micronutrients.

Randa said that calcium sulfate breaks down solids, such as residue more quickly, opening the soil for more air and water intake and water retention.

Panel member Bill Darrington, a producer from Harrison County.

Darrington said he applies sulfate annually on his fields. “It’s easy to tell a sulfur deficiency because the top leaf will be yellow indicating soil has a high pH content.

“It’s an easy thing to scout.”

In addition, he said application of ammonium sulfate “is a good way to extend late-season feeding.

“It releases a lot of nutrients.”

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Bob Randa, of Midwestern Bio-Ag, based in Blue Mounds, Wis.