Weather Alert

If You Do Underapply Fertilizer, Here Are Some Considerations

Sky-high fertilizer prices are causing some farmers to rethink their nutrient management plans for 2022. Can you skimp out on applying nitrogen? What about a little less phosphorus?

Mike Swoish, Pioneer agronomist, says it can be a dangerous game if you under-nourish your soil.

“I know the trend or desire this year will be to cut back on fertilizer due to the prices,” he says. “In my opinion for corn, we usually tend to apply enough nitrogen. If we can either protect that nitrogen a little bit better or split apply, we could increase our nitrogen use-efficiency and apply the same or less nitrogen and save a little money, that could help with other nutrient costs.

Earlier this week, Swoish talked about soil compaction. That could also play a role in nutrient uptake for next year’s crop.

“If we’re under-fertilizing, especially with things like potassium, I worry about plant health and the ability of that plant to take up nutrients,” he says. “We have no idea what the weather will do—if we have a dry spell again, we need water to move some of those nutrients when we get a little bit of rain or irrigation. If we’re lacking a little bit on potassium, phosphorus, or nitrogen, then we’re going to have issues with nutrient uptake and that leads to poor plant health. It’s a really vicious cycle.”

Swoish says if growers need to be more efficient, they can cut down on nitrogen a bit and still do well. He says growers should not cut corners on potassium.

“That really helps mitigate plant stresses, helps with stalk or stem quality and integrity, and helps the plant fight diseases,” he says. “Tar spot was terrible this year, and we had some other disease issues. Dealing with those diseases is a lot easier if we have healthy plants throughout the season. If we run out of nitrogen or we don’t have adequate potassium to build a healthy, strong plant from the get go, we’re only setting ourselves up for worse disease problems later in the season.”

For more information about plant health and planning for 2022, talk with your local Pioneer agronomist.

Connect With Us Listen To Us On