Wheat Pete's Word: Episode 200! We're celebrating with a re-cap of nutrient BMPs


You can’t get to a thousand episodes without first hitting 200, and here we are at episode 200 of Wheat Pete’s Word!

Host Peter Johnson dedicates this episode to proper nutrient management, and tackles the topic from a few different angles. After all, when people are started to lobby that bodies of water have the same rights as a person so they can sue for pollution damages (like what’s happened with Lake Erie in the U.S.), well, nutrient management is just too important of a topic to gloss over.

Have a question you’d like Johnson to address? Or some yield results to send in? Disagree with something he’s said? Leave him a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


  • It’s episode number 2-0-0! Feedback keeps the Word running! Send in those questions, comments and critiques!
  • Have you heard that the city of Toledo in the U.S. has given Lake Erie rights like a person? Meaning the lake can now sue farmers/individuals/companies that pollute. It’s a huge heads up, that we have to keep doing the right thing and making sure that we’re considering the environment AND production in all nutrient and soil decisions.
  • Start with the 4Rs: phosphorus and K need on early, can I roll on frozen soil with no snow — there’s less compaction! Well, you’re right about less compaction, but the risk is too great of phosphorus moving into a water course somewhere. If soil is thawed but top freezes at night, that’s ok, as long as there’s no rain in the forecast for three or so days. But that’s “maple syrup” weather on thawed soil. Same goes for manure. The potential movement off-target is higher that the pay-off for rolling early. Pay attention to the forecast.
  • Everyone needs soil tests: so right! We all need a current soil test, and a listener says it has to become second nature. Shouldn’t plot results also come with a soil test? Great idea! Love that, do it!
  • Too much manure in storage: after piling it out in the fields, it’s breaking down nicely. A farmer usually spreads after wheat, but it’s broken down pretty well now, could I use it as nitrogen source ahead of corn instead? You need 24:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio or less for it to be a positive for N release.  Test, test, test . And if you do decide to roll, remember spring compaction risk.
  • 4Rs again: If you’re splitting N on corn and wheat, because it’s environmentally beneficial, especially when incorporating the concept of matching up rainfall with soil N release and plant N demand. We have to get better at being accurate with our N rates, and we’re getting there with nitrate release in-season monitoring.
  • When does protected N make sense? ESN is great for planting time, because it’s slow release. What about Agrotain? You need certain conditions to lose N once broadcast, and wind is one of the factors, so under a V10 canopy is that a concern?
  • Urea with wheat seed, is it safe? Is it a salt issue or is it an ammonia issue? 40 pounds with wheat, treated with Agrotain, and a farmer’s agronomist says he can go as high as 80! STOP! Urea does become ammonia, and ammonia is incredibly toxic to the seed. ZERO urea with seed is the recommendation. And urea does have a salt index (MAP is 27, Urea 74 about 3x that of MAP!)  For reference, potassium chloride’s is 120. Ouch, that’s salty.
  • Phosphorus on wheat — I know it needs it, but can you do a foliar application? No go, just won’t work on wheat.
  • N and fungicide synergy: Never add liquid N to a fungicide! it’ll  absolutely smoke the crop. Two passes is the name of the game
  • Rotation: grass/hay is so beneficial, how do we get more farmers to grow it? It has to be profitable. If you can do it, go for it, for so many reasons
  • Questions bout wheat as a cover crop, as he’s heard it’s good at breaking up compaction. Farmer is flying it in late into beans, but what about cereal rye? Give ‘er! Both will grow deep roots, but chances of remedying deep compaction is slim when used as a cover crop. Still valuable though
  • Fungicide on corn/soy/wheat, do they impact soil microbes? Fungicides kill fungal component, but only at soil surface and short-lived impact. No impact on bacteria.
  • Nova Scotia farmer has a 1590 drill, and wants to add spring wheat to spotty winter wheat — is there too much damage slicing through crowns? Go on an angle for as little damage as possible, go do it!

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