Competition for Farmland Changes Focus to Short-Term Fertility in 2014

US - Given current high land rent costs and fierce competition for high-quality farm ground, farmers are more focused than ever on maximizing their land’s fertility and fully utilizing all investments in the short term, especially those investments involving phosphorus (P) fertilizer.
calendar icon 13 January 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

SFP logoWithout that short-term focus, farmers could leave applied P for the next tenant who farms the land. As much as 75-95 percent of applied phosphorus can become tied-up or fixed in the soil, making it unavailable for plant uptake.1

“Since farmers might risk losing the rented land they are farming after a season or two, they want to apply just enough fertilizer to meet crop needs and not leave a lot held over for future years,” says Dr. Barney Gordon, Professor Emeritus at Kansas State University. “The emphasis is on short-term building of fertility versus long-term building.”

A good solution for farmers looking for maximum crop uptake of applied phosphorus is AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer from SFP®. AVAIL can be used to ensure the maximum possible P is available to the plants and that the nutrient does not get tied up in the soil and possibly not be available for crop uptake until well after the following growing season.

“AVAIL is an especially good fit for the short term, as it ensures phosphorus availability when the next crop will need it the most,” Gordon says. “If you use AVAIL and apply, say, 120 pounds per acre of P, then 80 to 90 percent of it will be available the next growing season versus applying this rate and not really knowing how much will be available versus how much will get tied up in the soil.”

The best time to apply AVAIL with P fertilizer is in the fall to allow the nutrient to be worked into the soil over the winter, take advantage of good application weather following harvest, reduce the risk of unpredictable spring weather delaying or preventing P applications, and allow farmers to focus solely on planting, weed control and nitrogen applications in the spring. The fall-applied P will still be available come spring, Gordon says.

Reggie Underwood, SFP National Sales Manager, notes that higher commodity prices continue to put a lot of upward pressure on land rents. Also, in Midwest states such as Iowa, concerns about an inconsistent crop due to excessive spring rains and late planting have lowered yield expectations.

“Some fields have corn in the 10-leaf stage but also corn that is tasseling in the same field,” Underwood says. “There is also anticipation that harvest may be early this year and drying costs will be substantial if corn has to be combined at higher-than-optimum moisture.”

For farmers, this means taking a really hard look at input costs for 2014.

“If farmers see their revenue decline in 2013 by, say, $200 per acre, they will be looking to rent more land to offset those losses in 2014,” Underwood says. “And, they will be looking for ways to maximize their return on investment. With P being the second-most-important nutrient for corn, fall-applied phosphorus combined with AVAIL will help ensure that nutrient is readily available for the 2014 crop. It will be vitally important to get that phosphorus applied this fall and have it protected.”

1Mortvedt, J.J. “Heavy Metal and Radionuclide Contaminants in Phosphate Fertilizers.” 1994

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