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June 12, 2023: Crop Solutions That Work AGRIS Biweekly Newsletter


Digital Corner

Lots of field activity wrapping up, with a focus on nitrogen applications. We have implemented some nitrogen trials. A couple of fields with variable applications based on topography, normalized yield from previous years, percent sand and relative plant available water. In two sites we implemented a delta yield trial. This consists of check blocks positioned strategically in the field where we kept the N rates low 50-70 lbs. actual per acre and then applied the normal rates on the balance of the field. We will take this through to harvest and capture the yield difference between the two rates and estimate what the actual N rate should have been. While it seems to be a look in the rearview mirror, We can use it to confirm the nitrogen rates being used are as close what’s needed as possible. Most fields with consistent management practices tend to have somewhat predictable nitrogen responses.

An Example of Delta yield check blocks placed on knoll, side slopes and low ground. Working with the customer we used FieldView elevation map to drop pins and mark them permanent. The operator can see those as they apply and shut the applicator off for 200 feet and turn it back on. A pretty simple approach. Understanding nitrogen response based on landscape position helps to determine if variable rate applications are something to be pursued. 


Soil sampling season is coming up after wheat harvest. Your CropSpecialist should be advising you on which fields are due to be resampled. Wewant to make sure we are 4 R Compliant by making nutrient recommendations basedon soil tests no older than 4 years.

Article by Dale Cowan, Agronomy Strategy Manager and Senior Agronomist 


Foliar Nutrients

It’s that time of year again when we look at our crops and wonder what we should or could be doing to maximize our profitability during the growing season. Foliar nutrients can play a huge roll in improving plant health, mitigating stress and increasing yield. Foliar fertilizers have been around for decades and manufactures have been constantly changing formulations to increase efficacy including adding biologicals with these nutrients to further improve plant health and nutrient uptake.

There are various reasons why a crop could benefit from a foliar nutrient application these could include, lack of soil available nutrients which could be caused by low soil test levels, restricted root growth, low or excessive soil moisture. Rapid crop growth can also cause short term nutrient deficiencies along with an imbalance in soil nutrients levels and sometimes soil properties will limit nutrients from becoming available to the plant.

Some ways to determine if your crop is limited in an essential nutrient are through tissue samples, visual symptoms on the leaves or simply a field history of low nutrient levels in previous crops. Common nutrient deficiencies in Southwestern Ontario can include but are not limited to Manganese primarily in wheat and soybeans, zinc, boron and magnesium primarily in corn. Any crop can show temporary shortages of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium under certain conditions. 

There are several companies that have a range of foliar nutrients available some are a general foliar feed with macro and micro nutrients included in the product, there are also nutrient specific products to target specific nutrient deficiencies such as Manganese or Boron.

The nice part about foliar nutrients is they can often be applied with herbicides at herbicide timing, there are some restrictions with some products, nutrients and herbicides so you should ask your Crop Sales Specialist before tank mixing.

Making sure you are using the correct foliar nutrients is integral to maximizing their effectiveness and return on investment, this is where tissue samples can help with those decisions.

Foliar fertilizers can be a great part of a fertility program built on recent soil tests and balanced soil nutrient levels.

Article by Chris Snip, Crop Sales Specialist


Building Healthy Soil, Responsibly

Compliance with the 4R audit process and agronomy advice begins with using current soil test results (four years or less) to make responsible nutrient recommendations.

Our recommendation approach to nutrient management

We base our nutrient recommendation on a "BUILD, MAINTAIN or DRAW-DOWN" basis. 

  1. When soil sample values are low, we make recommendations greater than crop removal to build soil test levels. 
  2. When soil tests are at targeted levels, we maintain with crop removal values. 

When soil tests are high, we make recommendations that are less than crop removal, and at times, a zero rate to draw-down soil fertility values and take advantage of over-applications from the past. 

This approach assures that nutrients are neither deficient, limiting crop performance, nor excessive, impacting the size of your environmental footprint. 

Minimizing the size of our environmental footprint, Optimizing harvested yield and maximizing nutrient use efficiency, is the goal. 

We offer many different soil sampling options. I am highlighting Soil Optix in this newsletter. 

For farmers keen on understanding soil properties in greater detail at a higher resolution. To drive not only fertility applications but to run scripts for variable rate seeding and variable rate nitrogen based on unique soil properties. That up until now have not been available at affordable fees.

We are using the SoilOptix® scanner technology and capturing the soils natural radiation and identifying the unique soil mineralogy that links to specific nutrient distribution in the soil profile. With the technology, we can define soil texture maps and show the % sand % silt and % clay, Plant Available Water, and Leaching index across the field landscape in addition to the traditional nutrients we normally measure.

The difference in the scanning technology and zones is we have the ability to represent nutrient distribution based on unique soil minerals and physical fractions of the soil. This results in a different looking map for potassium, phosphorus and all other nutrients rather than a traditional zone where the zone all has one value for P and K and other nutrients.

We do need to drive the field with a special scanner attached to an ATV and collect the radiation readings. From that, we can:

  1. Group the readings into zones and assign soil sample locations.
  2. Collect the samples and submit them to the lab.
  3. Process the scanned data and prepare for the import of soil data to make the unique layers of soil properties.

Finally, we can run our unique soil fertility scripts to determine the optimum nutrient application rates with a much greater resolution or detail related directly to soil properties and productivity.



Reach out to your Crop Specialists to order the service.

Article by Dale Cowan, Agronomy Strategy Manager and Senior Agronomist 

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