Dr. Fred Below from the University of Illinois is an educator and advocate. His Seven Wonders of the Corn Yield World help put in perspective what it takes to achieve high corn yields, and he offers advice on how to fertilize soybeans as well.
Dr. Below’s research has led him to the conclusion that “A corn plant can never have a bad day.” Which is why he also believes crop fertility is required from the beginning and throughout the plant’s life for protection and strength, two factors that lead to successful yields.
Importance of Crop Fertility:
- Set the trajectory for a strong start and rapid growth for the growing season by placing nutrients on or near the seed.
- “Right place, right time” – Having the proper nutrients in place throughout the growing season, helps offset any risks that the plant might face (i.e. disease, pests, etc.) and minimizes potential negative environmental impacts.
- Placing nutrients near the plants’ root system helps solidify crop health throughout the season and gives the plant direct access to the nutrients it needs, especially in the early growing phases.
Check out the video below, where Dr. Below gives a brief description of his approach to crop fertility:
Crop Fertility Transcript
Fertility plays a huge role. Having the fertility near the seed, on the seed, or where the young seedling can reach it, we’ve seen sort of sets the trajectory for rapid growth – strong start.
Obviously nutrient efficiency is having the proper nutrient in the right place at the right time to drive growth and yield. And that way you also minimize any negative environmental impacts that might be associated with it. So it’s taking a fertilizer and turning it into food.
One of the big problems is that not all nutrients are used at the same rate at the same time. So there is no one size that fits all. Therefore, understanding and placing them in the proximity of the root system helps make sure that they are absorbed by the plant, and ensures that the plant uses them for growth.