Managing Soil Nutrients in a Tough Market
With many grain commodities well under five dollars a bushel, farmers are looking for ways to cut costs and muster a profit out of tight margins . That being said, getting the biggest and best crop for the given year is pivotal. This is where proper soil management comes into play. By ignoring soil health, fertility is left to a guessing game. A full soil test includes values for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, organic matter, zinc, cation exchange capacity, and a host of other nutrients. Nitrogen is a free-moving nutrient in soil and can vary greatly year to year. This makes nitrogen very important to test for.
So, even when you feel you’ve no more pennies to pinch, consider at the very least, soil sampling for nitrogen. Realistic fertilizer recommendations could be the smartest management tool you have when trying to minimize inputs and maximize yields. In a market that makes even the most optimistic farmer feel defeated, smart management tools like soil sampling help combat a dismal pricing forecast.
The War on Weeds!
Herbicide resistant weeds are something we do not want taking over our state. Montana already has herbicide resistance in Kochia and Russian Thistle in the North- Western part of the state. Don’t contribute to the problem! Instead, fight back by using at least 2 (preferably 3) modes of chemical action and spraying your fallow fields when the weeds are under six inches in height. Switching brand names does not necessarily mean you’re using different chemical groups. Make sure to check the chemical label and rotate modes of action.
The Power of Adjuvants
Herbicide resistance has changed the farming game. Simple and repetitive chemical applications just don’t cut it anymore. New chemical combinations are available to confront these concerns, but at a higher cost. This growing issue is pushing the crop protection industry to take a hard look at the increasingly important role adjuvants play in driving these chemistries INTO target weeds.
So, really, what is an adjuvant? Adjuvants encompass a large selection of additives, including activator adjuvants, surfactants, crop oil concentrates, fertilizer additives, buffers, and more. They serve a host of purposes, such as: enhancing herbicide performance and burndown, increasing product penetration, reducing surface tension, preventing foaming, decreasing spray drift, altering droplet size, and buffering hard water. By using a proper mixture of adjuvants, farmers can be pro-active in the war on resistant weeds by increasing the effectiveness of their chemical applications. Here’s a look at how the adjuvant industry is changing to take on the challenge of resistant weeds.
One of the several companies taking a hard look at adjuvants in the cropping system, is the Iowa based company, United Suppliers. The adjuvant development manager, Dr. Patrick McMullan reports that simple combinations such as ammonium sulfate and a surfactant may not be sufficient. The industry is focusing on more combinations, including more Methylated Seed Oil products in combination with a surfactant and AMS. New adjuvants are expected in the pipeline, too, including products for use with new chemistry combination products, like Enlist Duo, Engenia (BASF), and XtendiMax (Monsanto). With EPA approval, new products will be hitting the market to further increase chemical application effectiveness. These products may become more widely used in fungicide and insecticide applications as well.
So what products do you need? It all depends on the chemistries being used. The most important thing is to read the chemical label. Here you will find which adjuvants are compatible with the chemistry. Your decision may also be based on weather, weed size, crop you’re applying to, tank mixes, etc. Think of all the money allocated to your herbicide/fungicide/pesticide applications each year. To make the most of these investments, spend a little extra on adjuvants to ensure your chemicals hit their mark. This extra step will help achieve cleaner fields, higher yields, and protect your farm from the threat of resistant weeds. Read “WAR ON WEEDS” above, to see how rotating chemical modes of action is another important step in your crop protection program.
Need help deciding on adjuvants/additives? Call CG Ag’s Certified Crop Adviser for guidance
Curran, W. S., D.D. Lingerfelter. 2009. Adjuvants for
Enhancing Herbicide Performance. Pennsylvania State University Extension Publication UC106. Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.
Grassi, Matthew J. (2015). Adjuvants Trending Up for Fighting
Weed Resistance. Crop Life. Retrieved from