We can always hope for a perfect year with perfect weather and ideal soil conditions, but most years, it just doesn’t play out that way.
In order to combat forces that are out of our control, we need to focus our energy on the things that we can control. There’s no single “fix-all” solution for crop production, but there are plenty of things that could prevent decreased yields and maximize crop yield potential.
Don’t just take our word for it – Dr. Fred Below from the University of Illinois recently stated, “It’s not what you are doing, it’s what you’re not doing that kills you.”
One huge factor to consider is that your crops might not have complete access to all the nutrients they need to grow properly. We’ve developed three steps for you to follow when determining whether or not your crops are making efficient use of the nutrients available to them:
1.Do A Soil Test
Similar to how you wouldn’t enroll your child in a school without researching it first, you should make sure you know what kind of environment your seedling will be exposed to prior to planting. Which nutrients are abundant? Which are deficient?
Knowing what you’re working with in the soil is a great way to make informed and effective fertility decisions.
2. Take A Tissue Sample
Just because the soil contains large amounts of a specific nutrient doesn’t mean that the plant’s roots will be able to absorb an adequate amount of the nutrient. Using a fertilizer that contains a specific nutrient your plant needs is a good way to add more nutrients to the soil, but the nutrients may still be out of reach for the plant.
Nutrients can often be unavailable because they’ve bound with other soil particles and become insoluble for plant uptake.
By taking a tissue sample from your plant, you can compare it to the soil test to see which nutrients are present in the soil, but not being absorbed for proper crop development.
3. Talk To Your Agronomist
Now you know what’s in your soil, what’s in your plant, and most importantly, what is in your soil but not reaching your plant. An agronomist might be help you with steps one and two, but the pivotal step is to follow through on the data you’ve collected.
Talk to an agronomist that you know and trust about where to go from here. They will help you make informed decisions for your fertility plan, and will provide options to help you unlock specific nutrients from the soil based on your individual soil and crop conditions.