What is Left in the Soil for 2011?

Garth donald headshot thumbBy Garth Donald, Dynagra

Well as we grind through one of the toughest harvests in a while there seems to be one thing that keeps coming up is…. €œwhat is left for nutrients in the soil?€ I have been on combines in the last three weeks and some of the yields are unbelievable and proteins are the same. So just for a quick idea of nutrient usage here is the following:

70 bushel HRS Wheat removes 126lbs of nitrogen

80 bushel HRS Wheat removes 144lbs of nitrogen

100 bushel HRS Wheat removes 180lbs of nitrogen

100 bushel Barley removes 125lbs of nitrogen

120 bushel Barley removes 150lbs of nitrogen

40 bushel Canola removes 102lbs of nitrogen

50 bushel Canola removes 128lbs of nitrogen

60 bushel Canola removes 153lbs of nitrogen

Now these numbers are what the crop takes to grow and yes there are different nitrogen usage efficiencies for different areas but this gives you a good idea of what that crop did pull out of the ground to what you applied this spring. The other factor that most don€™t take in consideration is the amount of straw that is put back on the field and that straw needs nitrogen to break it down.

So what can you do? Well a basic step is to get a soil test done. This is an economical way of understanding what is in the soil and then you can make some general plans for the spring. This will give you an idea but it is like shoot at a target with a shot gun. Yes you may hit the target but you will be all over the place with high amounts of variability.  Using products like variable rate can enable you to get a more accurate picture of your nutrient content in the field. With variable rate you break the quarter section into four or five segments which allows you to apply more or less fertilizer depending on the needs of the given segment.

With proper management and understanding you will put yourself in the driver€™s seat to drive towards a good crop in 2011.

Those are my thoughts,

Garth Donald C.C.A.


Shaun Haney

Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. He creates content regularly and hosts RealAg Radio on Rural Radio 147 every weekday at 4PM est. @shaunhaney


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