As a crop input, phosphorus is one of those nutrients we tend to think about early, make application decisions as we are seeding, and then all too often, do not think about again until the next growing season. In reality, our crops have a season-long need for phosphate, and this singular focus and approach to phosphate fertility represents both an opportunity and a concern.
First the concern. Generally speaking, there is a significant proportion of soil tested across North America showing ppm of phosphate below critical levels. As an industry, crop yield has incrementally increased over time and phosphate application rates have not kept up with crop removal, resulting in a subtle decline in soil test values in some regions. Additionally, in Western Canada and the Northern States, it is not uncommon for soil pH, soil temperature at time of seeding, calcium, aluminum, or iron to further compromise our crops’ ability to access phosphate. Growers should be careful to resist the tendency to conclude that every acre therefore needs to have an aggressive phosphate fertility program applied. With this particular nutrient, and especially in regions where we have livestock operations, there will be fields where phosphate levels are high to very high with a minimal likelihood of response to additional phosphate.
Bottom line, when embarking on a farm level conversation about phosphorus, it is critical we use some analytical data (in conjunction with application and production history) to fully understand the context in which phosphate management decisions are being made. Additionally, if the industry is going to maintain the upward yield trends for all crops, it is important to ensure that the phosphorus resources aren’t being over-utilized today at the expense of tomorrow’s productivity.
Now the opportunity. It’s clear that subtle differences in soil moisture, weather, nutrient demand by crop stage, and a myriad of other factors create situations where plant productivity is compromised, and just a portion of crops’ full genetic yield potential is realized. Some of these factors are beyond control, but with the right product applied at the right time growers can eliminate the yield-robbing transient nutrient deficiency associated with hidden hunger through foliar nutrition.
Lately “foliar feeding” has become primarily focused on micro nutrients to the point where growers could be missing out on an opportunity to enhance their macro nutrient program – specifically phosphorous. As noted, there are a host of reason why it is important to look at alternative strategies for this nutrient. YaraVita HYDROPHOSTM can bridge the gap between phosphorous in the soil that may be insufficient or unavailable. Furthermore, the unique formulation of YaraVita HYDROPHOSTM includes potassium and magnesium to promote root formation which enhances the plants’ ability to access soil moisture and other nutrients. It is 100% plant active ortho-phosphate that provides an instant energy boost to the plant to power it though periods of environmental and other stresses. Although it is unlikely growers will ever move away from dry granular phosphate products placed near the seed at time of planting, YaraVita HYDROPHOSTM as part of a total phosphorus program allows us to maintain season long phosphate availability to maximize the genetic yield potential of all the crops we grow.
For more information about YaraVita HydrophosTM and the entire lineup of Yara products, visit yaracanada.ca