The Sharp Edge: Fertilizer cart key to cost-effective corn production

Does building your corn planting and side-dress fertilizer program around a fertilizer cart make sense?

That’s what Blenheim, Ont., farmer Joe De Brouwer does and that’s why he’s on this episode of The Sharp Edge on RealAgriculture. De Brouwer, who farms with his father and two uncles, tells Maizex Seeds’ agronomist Greg Stewart that an Aulari fertilizer cart is the key to their efficient and cost-effective approach to planting and feeding their corn crop.

At planting, the DeBrouwers attach a 3140 Kinze planter — 12 rows on 38-inch spacings — to the back of the cart and head to the field with eight tons of dry fertilizer, which is banded with the seed. The planter is then replaced with a toolbar for side-dressing urea. The toolbar carries 12 coulters with each located eight inches from the corn row.

The DeBrouwers side-dress urea at a full rate of 435 lb per acre (200 lb actual N). Joe tells Stewart they haven’t had any tendering or supply issues during the side-dress season. Another part of the puzzle is the commitment to wide rows. By running 12 rows at 38 inches, total planter cost and cost per foot of toolbar is greatly reduced. They can also run wider tires in the row to mitigate compaction and there’s less trampling at side-dress.

And what about yield? Over the years, on-farm trials have shown a slight advantage to narrower rows, but total profitability, including equipment savings, favours the wider rows, says DeBrouwer. They also see better standability and do have some plant population flexibility on 38-inch rows. Standard planting rate is 32,000, but they can bump it up to 34,000 on higher fertility soil.

Click here for more episodes of The Sharp Edge.

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