In our last newsletter issue we invited you to take part in an educational series about the topic of sustainability. We know that there are many opinions surrounding this topic, but we also know that for years, our members have actively implemented sustainable practices. This has not wavered, even with the heightened media around sustainability. So what have we been doing and what’s important to us? Let us start our series with crop nutrients by focusing on three areas directly connected to positive crop nutrient practices: nitrogen placement, variable rate prescriptions and intensive soil sampling.
NITROGEN – Nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient applied to fields. Key agronomists encourage stabilizers, which help spread out risk of nitrogen loss. A stabilizer allows the nitrogen to be available longer in the root zone. Growers can adapt and change their nitrogen application strategy based on what the plant really needs and when it needs it most. Often growers also utilize split nitrogen application. With this practice, nutrients can be applied to the soil at different stages of the plant’s growth, spreading out risk of loss and feeding the plant as it grows and develops.
VARIABLE RATE PRESCRIPTIONS – Key agronomists write what are called “prescriptions” for nutrients in a field, which place the phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen in a 60-by-60-foot grid in the field where the plants need it, creating optimum yield potential in every square block. Equally, nutrients can be scaled back in blocks where full rates of fertilizer are not needed. Variable rate prescriptions are not a cost savings strategy but rather a reallocation of resources so the precise amount is applied right where plants need them for maximum plant performance.
SOIL SAMPLING – Utilizing an intensive grid soil sampling program allows Key agronomists and growers to measure fertility levels in fields on a 2.5-acre grid. Intensive soil sampling enables growers to make sound management decisions about the nutrient levels and fertility recommendations on that field.
Key is dedicated to educating our members on current sustainable practices and the opportunities that we can economically incorporate into your operation. Visit with any Key Cooperative agronomist to join our conversation about crop nutrient practices today, we have the opportunity to work together as one.