As we grind through one of the toughest harvests in a while there seems to be one thing that keeps coming up and the question is “what 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 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 is like shooting at a target with a shot gun. You may hit the target but you will be all over the place with no consistency. For a more precise look at the fields, you can utilize variable rate technology which gives multiple samples within a field based on the growth of the crop in that field. Basically you are breaking that quarter section into four or five fields and fertilizing where the crop needs it.
So is just doing the same as last year an option? No! 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.