Soil fertility following the drought was a major topic at the free seminar sponsored by Hoosier Ag Today at the Indiana/Illinois Farm Show in Indianapolis on Tuesday. One of the biggest challenges facing farmers is determining just how much nitrogen and other nutrients are left in their soil after the drought. Kurt Wilhelm, with Farm Clinic, says most Indiana growers have plenty left in their fields, “The 100 bushel corn crop many growers harvested was half of what they had hoped for and half of what they fertilized for, so we know those nutrients are in the soil.” The question is how much is being retained and how much will still be available for the next crop? Wilhelm said there are some tests that can help determine this, “We have some tools that will get us in the ballpark.” Daryl Starr, with Advanced Ag Solutions, says yield monitors can also give you a clue, “Yield data can be one of the things we can use to judge fertilizer application rates.” He said, this year especially, it will be very obvious in a field where nitrogen remains and where it has been used up, “This year the difference between the zeros and the full yielding areas of a field will really stand out.” He said this will allow you to assess where it makes sense to back off on fertilization. Both men recommend that farmers assess where they might be able to cut back on nitrogen and where they will need a full application. Pre-sidedress nitrate testing was a tool suggested at the seminar along with the a modeling program called Optimizer which is used by Advanced Ag Solutions.
Starr said there are lessons that can be learned from 2012 and cautioned corn growers not to disregard hybrid yield data from this year, “Don’t throw out a variety just because it had a bad year.” He told HAT a lot of a hybrids’ poor performance may have to with planting dates and when the drought stress was the worst in that field. He said, “Just like in life, sometimes we learn our best lessons from stressful situations.” He added 2012 showed which hybrids did well in dry situations, and that may be something to consider for typically dry areas of your farm.
On Wednesday, the seminar series will focus on economic issues with a CPA and with Purdue Ag Economist Dr. Chris Hurt. These will be timely topics with Congress debating key tax issues and the market reacting to USDA production numbers this week. The seminars begin at 11 am each day of the show, which runs through December 13. The farm show is being held in the West Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/12/fertility.mp3|titles=Assessing Soil Fertility for 2013 Crop]