With the growing importance of nutrient availability in farming operations, making sure that nutrients are accessible as early as possible is something a lot of farmers are prioritizing by using in-furrow application or starter fertilizer methods.
We already know that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to farming, so there are several things to consider when deciding what methods will be best for an upcoming season.
In deciding whether to use starter fertilizer applications, the following are situations to consider where using starter has led to yield increases:
- In geographies that tend to experience early season stresses, like high levels of rain or cold weather.
- When choosing to plant early in cool soil, or planting into poorly draining soil.
- When used in no-till or high residue operations
- In northern states, especially northern Corn Belt states like Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.
- In coarse textured sand, sandy loam soil, and soils that test high in phosphorus (P) and/or potassium (K).
Since many soils can tie up any available phosphorus, much of the success seen from starter fertilizer could be attributed to the phosphorus that it contains.
Coarse textured soils are especially likely to bind vital nutrients like nitrogen (N), P and K. For this reason, starter fertilizers that contain these nutrients may be needed even in soils that show high levels of N, P and K.
Jack White, a grower from central Minnesota, agrees on the importance of getting the crop started off strong, from the beginning. White recommends an in-furrow application system, because “in [his] neck of the woods, it is imperative to use some kind of a starter”: