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Maximizing Yields and Minimizing Waste: The Benefits of Nutrient Stewardship with Phosphorus

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

The truth is that nutrient stewardship, specifically with phosphorus, is good for your farm and the environment. Here are a few reasons why adopting nutrient stewardship with phosphorus can benefit your farm and save you money in the long run.

First and foremost, nutrient stewardship can save you money.

If you're not applying the right amount of nutrients at the right time of year using the correct placement, then you may be wasting money every year on fertilizer. For example, if you're broadcasting phosphorus fertilizer instead of using precision placement, then this fertilizer may not have the time or the ability to get into the plant in a sufficient quantity to meet crop demand. This means that you're essentially throwing money away, as the phosphorus is not being utilized by the plant.

Think of phosphorus fertilizer as a 401(k) investment.

If you invest in the phosphorus trading account but you're not applying it correctly, you'll never accumulate enough money to retire. Why is that? Because for every dollar you put in, you'll be paying anywhere from 70-95 cents in "fees" in the form of wasted fertilizer. This is why it's important to use the correct placement and timing when applying phosphorus fertilizer to ensure that it's utilized by the plant and not wasted.

Another way to improve the utilization of phosphorus fertilizer is to use a starter fertilizer.

While this may cost more per unit of phosphorus, it ultimately leads to better results because it can overcome some of the "fees" associated with broadcast applications in the soil. With a starter fertilizer, we concentrate phosphorus in a small area to oversaturate it, in the hope that it will be more available to the roots of the plant.

This is like overfilling a glass with a hole in the bottom, knowing that some of the phosphorus will be lost but that there will still be enough for the plant to utilize. By applying the phosphorus at the right time and in the right location, we can ensure that the plant has the opportunity to take it up and utilize it.

But what if I have phosphorus in my soil already? Shouldn't the plant be able to access it?

Yes, in theory, it should be able to access the phosphorus, but it's still subject to the same "fees" as if it were applied as fertilizer. Why is that? Because soil cycles between available and unavailable forms many times over the season, up to 500 times. Each one of these cycles is still subject to the same fees, as the phosphorus is momentarily available and then tied back up in the soil.

Why is this more relevant today than ever? Because we're expecting higher yields from our crops.

For example, corn yields are 144 bushels per acre higher than they were in 1950, which means that the average corn crop removes 53 pounds more phosphorus from the soil. This increased demand for phosphorus coincides with peak demand periods, which means that the plant may be left without sufficient phosphorus to meet its needs.

The use of nutrient stewardship with phosphorus is good for your farm and the environment.

Adopting this practice can save you money by ensuring that you're applying the right amount of phosphorus at the right time and in the right location. This can prevent the wastage of phosphorus fertilizer and improve the utilization of phosphorus by the plant. Furthermore, using a starter fertilizer can overcome some of the "fees" associated with broadcast applications and improve the availability of phosphorus to the plant. By considering these factors, farmers can ensure that their crops have access to the phosphorus they need for healthy growth and high yields.

Do you need help with nutrient stewardship on your farm or are you interested in more information? Get in touch with us by clicking here and we will provide the assistance you need.

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