2017 Corn and Soybean Starter Summary  12/07/17 12:16:00 PM

 
 
Four Year Starter Fertilizer Results.  As we have stated previously, it is academically documented from research dating back to the 1950's that banded application of immobile nutrients such as P and K near the seed at planting can be much more agronomically efficient than a broadcast application over the soil surface when considering corn stand establishment. Research conducted at Purdue University by Barger indicates this is a function of the amount of soil the roots must explore to obtain adequate amounts of the immobile nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium and zinc to germinate and effectively grow. Starter fertilizers have a long pedigree of what it can do for the emergence and development of a uniform stand. This too, can be affected by your soil type, soil moisture content, as well as soil temperature at planting.  
 
HOWEVER, what does it cost?  In this geography, it does not seem to pay! We contend that as yield goals continually increase, there should be an increased demand on these soil immobile nutrients over and above what you can extract out of mineralized credits in your soil.
 
So, in addition to our on-going work with corn-starter fertility blends, in 2017 we added the same methods towards starter use in soybeans—WHAT?? 
 
Again-the yield platform is changing.  Data/Research from years ago may or may not be applicable with our ever-increasing yield goals of 200 bu.+ dry land corn and 55-60+ bushel soybeans.  The root of this research goes back to what is needed in season-long fertility for increased stand establishment and maintaining higher yield goals?
 

For corn and soybean production, Midwest Laboratories, as well as WBI, would suggest that the optimum phosphorus P1 level test should be 25 ppm or above, zinc at 2.0 ppm, and the K levels should be around 200 ppm. How many fields fit these criteria? What can be done to maintain these levels??
 
CORN STARTERS
We continually evaluate our fertility levels in the soil and over time both academics and producers using starter fertilizer agree that banding or in furrow starter fertilizers plus additives can pay off considerably. BUT, What happens under various soils, fertility levels, etc. This is the question we ask every year about this time.  SO, we started this trial 4 years ago at the following site with these fertility levels


 
 
 
 
                 
Baseline Soil Test Results            
Tested Summer 2017   What does this mean??        
pH 5.7 Border line in needing lime        
Organic Matter 3% High Percentage--can source above average amounts of mineralized nutrients.
C.E.C. 14.5 Higher clay than silt content but within a good range        
P1 Test 36 ppm Excessively high--optimum range is 25-30 ppm    
P2 Test 327 ppm Excessively High--Normally should be 2x the P1 level
Sulfur 19 ppm Excessive for this soil type and CEC      
Potassium 401 ppm Excessively high--optimum range between 150-200 ppm.  
Zinc 7.7 ppm Excessive--1.5-2.0 ppm is normally adequate    
                           
                           
So, really, with the exception of this piece needing lime, fertility wise we are in good shape.

FOR 2017 We condensed on treatments being applied.


Our treatment list included the following
1. 5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail
2.  5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail + 3.4 oz of Capture LFR
3. 5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail + 3.4 oz of Capture LFR  + 3.6 oz. of Xanthion.
4.  5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail + 3.4 oz of Capture LFR + 10 oz of Optify Stretch
               
     
   

That being said, what are the additional components to the base treatments??
OPTISTART PRO is a complete fertilizer mix with an Avail premix
AVAIL inhibits phosphate fixation throughout the growing season.
CAPTURE LFR is an insecticide which controls seedling pest such as wireworm, white grubs, armyworn and corn rootworm.
XANTHION is a fungicide that can enhance root development, help control soil borne diseases, and improve seedling health.
OPTIFY STRETCH is a plant growth regulator/bio-stimulant meant to improve stress tolerance, increase early season vigor as well as water uptake into the plant.  We added this treatment to our protocol as a initial test to verify bio-stimulant claims.


RESULTS of same treatments since 2014
          2014 bu./acre 2015 bu./acre 2016 bu./acre 2017 bu./acre Running Ave.
 Untreated check       177.4 201.2 245.5 216.9 210.25
1.  5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail 209.1 202.5 261.7 225.8 224.77
2.  5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail  187.4 204.8 253.4 219.2 216.2
 + 3.4 oz of Capture LFR              
 3.  5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail 199.7 207.7 258.3 228.9 223.65
 + 3.4 oz of Capture LFR + 3.6 oz of Xanthion          
 4.  5 gal of Optistart Pro--9-18-6-2Sulfur 0.5 Zn-0.05 MNw Avail + 3.4 oz of Capture LFR  + 10 oz of Optify Stretch       237.7  
           
                   
4 Year Ave.                
Untreated   210.25            
Treatment Ave.   221.54 11.29 Advantage          
                     
 
What is the return on your investment—At $3/Bu. Corn, Trt #1 Opti-Start with Avail is the only treatments to have a return on your investment across the last 4 years.  The addition of the Optify Stretch did show promise in 2017—we need a few more year’s data to draw any concrete conclusions.


To set up a planter for starter application (tanks, attachments, etc.) a current average cost is $410.00/Row. You must consider this for the number of acres of corn you annually plant and how many years you would intend the planter to be used with these attachments.

REMEMBER—This is only four years of data. We will continue this project for years to come to give you a better idea of the average return on your investment under different soils types, weather patterns, etc..
Soybean Starter—We did this one across 3 separate locations.  Each location with it’s own individual fertility history.  We will describe them as Location #1
 
Baseline Soil Test Results          
Tested Summer 2017   What does this mean??      
pH 7.1 Neutral—maybe a bit high for ideal soybeans      
Organic Matter 3.1% High Percentage--can source above average amounts of mineralized nutrients.
C.E.C. 16.3 Higher clay than silt content but within a good range  
P1 Test 21 ppm --optimum range is 25-30 ppm  
Potassium 244 ppm Slightly high-optimum range between 150-200 ppm.
         
       
       
                     
At our first location, we had 3 replications of both treatments—each treatment was 20 feet wide x 1250 feet long.  Here, we kept the treatment list quite simple—We used 5 gal. of Opti-Start/Acre in the seed furrow at planting versus the untreated check,  The data and results are as follows
 
53.6 Starter  
53.3 No-Starter
51.7 Starter  
50.9 No-Starter
49.9 Starter  
46.5 No-Starter  
 
Across 3 replications, the starter had an average yield of 51.73 bu./acre while the untreated check averaged 50.33 bu./acre—1.4 bushel difference.  Not enough to pay for the treatment and/or any return on your investment.
 
Location #2
Baseline Soil Test Results          
Tested Summer 2017   What does this mean??      
pH 6.5 Almost ideal for soybeans      
Organic Matter 3.3% High Percentage--can source above average amounts of mineralized nutrients.
C.E.C. 18.1 Higher clay than silt content but within a good range  
P1 Test 63 ppm Very High--optimum range is 25-30 ppm  
Potassium 244 ppm Slightly high-optimum range between 150-200 ppm.
         
       
       
                     
 
 
 
At our second location, we almost ideal fertility for high yielding soybeans.  We had the same two treatments across a 15 acre field—yes, 15 acres isn’t much, but, it worked quite nicely for this test. 
 
89.45 Starter
92.75  No Starter
 
Across these 15 acres, the untreated check was 3.3 bu./acre better.  So. In theory the nutritional benefit of the starter did nothing this year—will it help for the coming years??
 
 
Location #3
Baseline Soil Test Results          
Tested Summer 2017   What does this mean??      
pH 5.7 Needs lime      
Organic Matter 3.0% High Percentage--can source above average amounts of mineralized nutrients.
C.E.C. 14.5 A bit low in clay content  
P1 Test 36 ppm Slightly high but still O.K.  
Potassium 327 ppm Very high-optimum range between 150-200 ppm.
                   
 
At the third site, we had again the same two treatments across a 20 acre field—again not a lot of field diversity, but, a good “average soil” location.
   73.08 Starter
72.28  No Starter
 
Across these 20 acres the starter was 0.8 bushels better.
 
 
 
SO, it is fair to say that the starter in the soybeans offered little to no yield difference or return on the investment for this year.  Remember that the immobile soil nutrients in question here- (primarily phosphorus, potassium) had generally high levels at the test locations.  Also remember that it may take a year or two in order for applied phosphorous and potassium to become plant available after application. 
 
We will do this again next year—This is one year of data where encountered an above average spring moisture level, where the impact of a starter was likely negated from all of the water.  We will see what next year brings. 
 
 
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