Even if nutrients are present in the soil, if the soil pH isn’t right, those nutrients remain unavailable to the plants. Neutral pH is 7.0. Higher levels indicate alkaline soil, and levels below 7.0 are considered acidic. The ideal pH range for row crops is 6.5-7.5 to keep nutrients from being tied up in the soil. Finding the balance is easier with precision ag.
Federated’s new precision ag software, Proagrica (with its Summit software and Sirrus mobile app), gives growers the ability to apply pH to the acre(s) that need it most, and in the right quantities. (See Proagrica details in Jan. 29 e-news.) Nitrogen, potassium, and sulfur are slightly less affected by high or low pH levels, but phosphorus quickly becomes unavailable to plants looking for nutrients.
“In east-central Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin, we deal mainly with acidic soils,” said Craig Peterson, Federated Agronomist at the Olgilvie location. Acidity can be corrected with lime application, and dolomitic lime is very common in these areas. However, “a blanket broadcast of fertilizer in lower pH areas may have great soil test results,” he said, “but it may not be the most productive acre on your farm.”
“Using Summit [or Sirrus] to grid sample your field, we can apply ag lime at different rates across your field, as needed,” said Peterson. Following that, using Summit “[we] create a recommendation for phosphorous and potassium” – typically applying less P and K where the pH is low, and more where the pH is closer to neutral.
The result: More even yields across every field.
Precision ag grid sampling makes it possible to put the nutrients where they are most needed, maximizing every dollar spent on fertilizer. Even growers who struggle with alkaline soils can better manage the high costs of ground elemental sulfur with grid sampling and well-placed applications.
Talk to your Federated Agronomist about grid sampling all your fields to improve your ROI. “Or,” said Peterson, “try it on a couple of fields that may not be performing as well as you think they should.” And let the results speak for themselves.