Corn School: Maximizing Yield with Dry or Liquid Starter Fertilizer

In this episode of the Corn School we talk with OMAFRA Corn Specialist Greg Stewart talks about the 4 year project undertaken to look at the benefits of starter fertilizer on corn. The study looked at all manner of formulations, applications and combinations. The major conclusion of the study showed the importance of potash levels in relation to nitrogen and phosphorous, to maximize corn yields. The difference in some cases being as much as 15 bushels. Even in K deficient soil where liquid starter fertilizer with a small amount of K was the only option used, the benefit was noticed. In a broadcast, liquid combination, the results were even better.

According to OMAFRA’s research “the old rules” still apply.

The first is that phosphate, the main nutrient in most starters, reacts very quickly with soil minerals to form insoluble compounds. When the fertilizer is placed in a band, the concentration of the phosphorus is greater than the capacity of the soil to tie it up, so more remains available to the plants. The second reason is that crops in the grass family, like corn, have a high demand for phosphorus as seedlings. Dr. Murray Miller showed that the concentration of phosphorus had to reach 0.5% in five-leaf corn, or the yield potential of that plant was reduced. For a corn seedling with a small root system to meet this phosphorus requirement, there has to be a concentrated source of phosphorus close to the seed.

Get more information on OMAFRA’s starter fertilizer research

Whether you are using dry or liquid starter fertilizer the benefits are real based on OMAFRA’s research. Greg Stewart, OMAFRA does a great job of bringing the facts and data to light.


If you cannot see the embedded video below click here.


Shaun Haney

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


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