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BuzBrandes
Member

Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

I'm a small time farmer and would like to start planting my corn and beans no-till.  Being a new guy, its unclear to me how to properly apply fertilizer in a no-till application.   How do most guys do it?  I thought P and K are relatively immobile in the soil profile, so if I just broadcast it... its unlikely the plants can utllize it all. 

 

Nitrogen is an even bigger concern.  I know my N will volatilize if not incorporated or rained on soon after application.  Does a urease inhibitor like Agrotain prevent this?  Just broadcasting ok then?

 

My planter is a JD 7000 without fert boxes , has no-till coulters.  I'm not set up for liquid Nitrogen.  I know many acres are planted no-till.  I just can't reasonably figure out how this is accomplished without a minimum of tillage?

 

I know these may be basic questions, but I have just not been able to get a straight answer from anyone I know on how to accomlish my goals.

 

Thank you,

 

Buz Brandes

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6 Replies
smokeyjay
Senior Contributor

Re: Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

For a low budget situation, you have several choices to make.  Surface broadcast application may be the cheapest, but it is not the best nor will it provide the crop with all the nutrients you apply.  This goes for N, P & K,.  Row application, with the planter, post emerge or via strip til are the three viable options you have.

 

If you can afford to invest in some used application equipment that some salvage stores have available, purchase some liquid fertilizer tanks and a good squeeze pump.  It's not the best way to go but the cheapest for you.  Dry fertilizer boxes and gears/sprockets would be an alternative, however, they may not be available as readily as liquid tanks.

 

If you choose the liquid route, run the lines to the rear of the planter to place a band two inches to one side.  A fertilizer equipment retail outlet can provide stainless steel brackets/attachments that attach to the rear of the planter press wheel frame.  If you go with dry, you might get some dry openers from salvage dealers or from your nearest equipment dealer.    

 

For liquid, both N, P & K can go on in this stream when its two inches away from the row.  Never place any fertilizer into the row when planting beans, and limit N & phosphate for corn in the row to basic starter, like 10-34-00, no more than 30 units of phosphate. 

 

It's a lot of gallons/acre when putting on 120-150 or more units of N, so you need to have it geared properly or to get more capacity, you may need to use a driven pump instead of the squeeze pump, or you can choose to dribble or inject the bulk of N, post emergence with a cultivator frame that matches your row configuration.  

 

Depending on your financial ability, a used controller along with sprayer controls and a liquid pump would be a useful investment.  It can do double duty while planting as well as applying fertilizer or herbicides with a sprayer or strip til machine

 

When placing beside the row, a minimum of 30 units of N combined with phosphate will allow the phosphate to move downward and about 90% will be available for the plant.  This option has been supported by research.

 

If initial costs are unaffordable, you may need to hire or rent a strip til applicator to inject the bulk of fertilizer. Either way, you will greatly benefit from the additional expenditure when compared to broadcast applications. 

 

As for inhibitors, I don't use any in my region, so you need to get that information elsewhere.  

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

   I dry spread most of my bean fertilizer in the fall.  The rolling ground and spring floodable ground I fertilize in the spring.  I plant in 15" rows so I better utilize the dry spread fertilizer and get better yields on the harder ground.   For corn most around here use a combination method of fertilization.  Dry spread 300# 10-46-46 in the fall.  7 or 8 gallons of 10-34-0 with the planter and put the 28%N on later by knifing it in.   Some studies  have proven no benefit to fertilizing with the planter in my area.  1 farmer I know dry spreads 500# then follows with knifing in the 28N.  And his corn looks as good as anybody's.  He also buys a farm every year or 2 so he must be doing something right.

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Blacksandfarmer
Veteran Advisor

Re: Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

Most in my region till before planting, but I do have a neighboring farm that no-tills. They have a nice planter setup to handle the residue and liquid fertilizer tanks to inject 10-34-0 off to the side of the seed trench. They sidedress by knifing 28%. You wouldn't want to dribble 28% in a no-till situation because you may lose nitrogen in the residue. Potash spread in the winter seems pretty common in this area for guys in a no-till situation because that potash would have more time to break down and move into the soil with the melting snow.

 

No-till can seem cheaper with one not spending money on tillage equipment and the fuel savings, but you will spend more money on an upgraded planter and equipment to knife in 28%. Personally, I started with the idea of being a no-till farmer but have went with tillage instead. I will change my Nitrogen strategy a little this year. I plan to broadcast three quarters of my  nitrogen with agrotain for an N stabilizer, incorporate it with a disc, and have the elevator sidedress the rest of the N dribble. I don't know how I will do, but I figure I'll still save more money doing things this way being that I too am still somewhat of a beginner and am also on a budget. Also figure in a future expense of a subsoiler. Not-till yields can be hard to sustain without breaking up the ground every so often. My neighbors who are very good with no-till have found this out and have now started to subsoil in the fall. Good luck, Im sure somebody on here will point you in the right direction.

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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Contributor

Re: Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

I put in P&K with the planter and dribble on liquid N post-emerge, but I have a small farm and can time the spraying before a rain.  Most around here broadcast P&K and knife in NH3.

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matt hagny
Contributor

Re: Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

Properly applied, Agrotain will prevent almost all volatilization from surface-applied urea (or UAN).  It is proven technology.

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jbneb
Contributor

Re: Questions with no-till and application of fertilizer?

I was in a similar situation a few years ago when I started farming.  I decided that notill seemed like the more inexpensive way to farm so I tried it.  Which did go against what many farmers in my area normally do.  Im not sure where in the country you are, but that will make a difference.  I'm in Nebraska and I'm very happy with my notill decision.  As for the fertilizer side of things, here is what I do, not that I'm claiming that this is correct.  I dry broadcast the majority of my P and K every fall when I get done with harvest.  I soil test every 3 years or so to see whether I'm spreading enough to build or just maintain the soil.  When I plant I do put down starter, actually popup I guess is the correct term.  I put about 5 gallons in furrow of 10-34-0, this year I'm actually trying 9-18-9 just to see if its any better.  I am a believer in popup with notill, there isnt always a big yield gain, but it does seem to help get the plants out of the ground more uniform, and I have found that my grain is around 2% drier when it comes time to harvest.  When I'm done planting the local fertilizer company goes out and floats on my premerge and 28% N all in one shot.  This year I am trying some Agrotain to see if that helps keep more N around.  The past few years I have been very happy with my program and have had very good yields.  Occasionally I do think puting more fertilizer on with the planter would be a good idea.  Maybe more would be available for the plant, but there are downfalls to that too.  If you are trying to put all of your N P and K on with the planter it might be better for the crop, but in my situation I can't be stopping every 30 acres to refill everything.  If you have a hired man that can run back and forth refilling nurse tanks I'm sure it would great, I don't have that setup though.  So I guess if you work on your own and can't spend 100,000 on the perfect planter setup, I have found this system works well for me.  Hope this helps.

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