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UK research evaluates in-furrow fertilizer in corn

in-furrow fertilizer

UK researchers are studying whether in-furrow fertilizers provide enough yield increase in corn to offset their costs — photo by Steve Patton, UK agricultural communications

At a time when many grain operators are tightening their belts on input costs, producers want to make sure the ones they purchase give them the most favorable results. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment researchers are evaluating whether in-furrow fertilizers provide enough yield increase to offset their costs.

In-furrow fertilizers are applied to seed during planting. Also called starter fertilizers, they help provide plants with nutrients early in the season to give them a jump start on growth. Several newer fertilizers contain low-salt content to help improve plant germination, but these low-salt fertilizers tend to be more expensive than others.

In the study funded by the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, UK soil scientists Edwin Ritchey, John Grove and Josh McGrath plan to determine how different starter fertilizers perform.

“This research will help guide Kentucky producers on beneficial corn inputs for the state’s unique growing conditions,” Ritchey said. “We hope to determine whether the more expensive products produce greater yields than their less expensive counterparts and which planting environment gets the most response from starter fertilizer applications.”

The UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence researchers are specifically looking at fertilizers’ performance on poorly draining fragipan soil in Western Kentucky.

They will compare the effectiveness of a low-salt starter fertilizer that contains only macronutrients, a commercially available low-salt starter containing macronutrients and micronutrients, ammonium polyphosphate (10-34-0), a combination of ammonium polyphosphate and urea ammonium nitrate, and an untreated field.

The University of Kentucky contributed to this article.