Fall-applied herbicides and fertilizer can help next year
August was hard on crops in much of the trade territory. As you see the results coming out of the field, it is time to start thinking about the plans for next year’s crop. Do you apply a fall residual herbicide? How much P and K will you apply? What about micronutrients? These are all questions that have been leading producers and managers to call me.
Fall-applied residual herbicides have been gaining popularity over the past few years. I believe that the intended purpose of the herbicide is to keep the field clean so when it’s time to plant in the spring little to no fieldwork needs to be done. However, most of the time when I get questions about fall-applied residual herbicides, the main topic is waterhemp. Any fall-applied residual herbicide labeled for corn or soybeans will have no effect on the waterhemp that you will be facing during the 2014 growing season.
If you apply the herbicide in October or November, it will be long gone by the time waterhemp starts germinating. Fall herbicides can, however, be very effective on marestail, henbit, and other winter annuals. In spring of 2013, when I traveled across our trade territory, I could pick out which fields had a residual herbicide applied and which ones didn’t.
The beauty of the MESZ product is that every fertilizer prill has the same guaranteed analysis. This allows us to have even distribution of these nutrients across the field.
I believe the practice of fall-applied residual herbicide has a fit in most of our trade territory. In some places, it might be beneficial to leave the cover to help reduce soil erosion. There are a lot of good herbicide options available. Visit with your local MFA to get details on which fall herbicide program might fit your farm.
When it comes to fall fertilization, the numbers of acres that get applied is always a matter of how well fall weather cooperates.
Last fall, MFA agronomist Steve Cromley wrote a column called Nutrient Level Tune-Up. This article is available here: http://todaysfarmermagazine.com/mag/crops/561-nutrient-level-tune-up.
Cromley made some good points. In summary: Soil testing and nutrient management is not an exact science. When you receive your soil test reports, there are a lot of numbers. Don’t get lost in the numbers—take a step back and look at the soil test ratings. These ratings for P and K are crucial. The ratings range from very low to very high. The lower you are on the rating, the higher probability you have of seeing a yield response from applying fertilizer.
Developing a long-term fertilization strategy will help you take your farm to the next level. You have a couple options to choose from: build-plus-maintenance or the sufficiency approach.
Build-plus-maintenance is more common on deeded land or land with a long-term lease. We typically see sufficiency plans on land that is leased short term.
Cromley jokes that a weed scientist always sees new products coming down the pipeline and a soil scientist rarely sees anything new. Just the same old stuff: MAP, DAP, etc.
Well, for the past couple years across our trade territory some of MFA’s locations have had a new product called MESZ. The product is made by Mosaic and has an analysis of 12N 40P 10S and 1ZN. You may say, “I am already doing this with our four-bin trucks.” The beauty of the MESZ product is that every fertilizer prill has the same guaranteed analysis. This allows us to have even distribution of these nutrients across the field.
Dr. Kelly Nelson at the University of Missouri Greenly Center has evaluated this product for several years and has seen a positive response. We have evaluated it in our Training Camp locations on corn and soybean and believe this product will provide the economic benefit you are looking for.
If you are reluctant to treat your whole farm with this product, I would suggest that you take a couple fields and split them in half and evaluate it on your farm.
Take it to yield and see the difference for yourself. I believe that this product will help you take your yields to the next level.
Soil testing and interpretation is only a portion of a well-developed nutrient management plan. A nutrient management plan should consider the 4R best management practices for each field.
The 4R nutrient stewardship concept is to apply the right source of plant nutrients at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. Visit with an MFA Agronomist to help develop a nutrient management plan that is tailored to your farm.
Dr. Jason Weirich is director of agronomy for MFA Incorporated.
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