We posed the following questions to our readers in the Strip-Till Farmer email discussion group: Do you use dry or liquid fertilizer? What are the positives and negatives of each, and do you use carbon-based fertilizers? Here are some of the top answers:
We have to remember that fertility is local. Your moisture content is different from mine. We should be doing our own trials to come up with a plan that best suits our farm.
I’m applying dry fertilizer through the strip-till bar right now. But we are learning more about the capabilities of foliar and sidedress applications, so I am reducing the amount of fertilizer applied through the strip-till bar. We’re done applying phosphorous (P) in bulk because the foliar program is easily meeting our P needs. Next year, nitrogen (N) will probably be taken care of in season through sidedress and foliar applications. Sulfur, calcium and potassium (K) will pretty much be the only fertilizer I run through the strip-till bar next year.
We are reducing the amount of K we apply through the strip-till bar and doing more of a field-by-field rate vs. a broadacre application. But again, we can see on the full-year application how a few pounds of K are replacing 100 pounds of product.
You absolutely need to have carbon products in your fertilizer blend. Carbon is a massive natural stabilizer for N. Our corn plant is 47% carbon and 3% N, so why aren’t we focusing on that 47%? I’m moving carbon to my in-furrow program to compliment the mycorrhiza products.
As a smaller farmer, I like liquid fertilizer because I can buy it anytime throughout the year to catch the best price. It’s easy for me to store and do my own blending. It works really well with the foliar and sidedress applications.
— Jon Stevens, Rock Creek, Minn.
I use liquid fertilizer for its easy ability to meter and use prescriptions. Plus, it’s very soluble. The biggest negative is the lower nutrition per pound of product.
— Wayne Martin, Shelby, Iowa
We run a strip-till pass in the spring with a Schlagel unit modified to a mole knife. We apply a dry blend from Midwest Bio-Tech directly in front of the planter. We never have an issue with seed burn or toxicity. We apply a blend of ESN, AMS, MPA, 0-0-50, Midwest Bio MicroPack and TerraNu at rates based on soil tests.
We run our strip-till rig and planter on the same day. We’ve had very good luck with our system for 5 years now, and we have noticed a great improvement in soil health. Yields have never dragged from a conventional fertilizer system.
— Garrett Gordy, Bowling Green, Mo.
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