Stress is like an iceberg. We can see one-eighth of it above, but what about what’s below?
by Perry Weisberg
Although small grains are adapted to a wide range of climates and soils, they are sensitive to various agronomic and environmental conditions, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, sunlight, fertility, herbicide carryover, insects, and diseases. Unfortunately, factors such as rainfall, humidity and sunlight are beyond our control, and Mother Nature proved this in 2010 with significantly higher than average moisture conditions and over-all lower temperatures than average. So far, 2011 is looking to provide much of the same. When considering the factors we can control, there is an opportunity to boost soil fertility for maximum yield potential when moisture is not the limiting factor. Caution must be give to the placement strategies for that
fertilizer when optimizing for yield.
Bourgault’s 2010 plot trials supported this observation. The canola yield trial at test plots near Odessa, Saskatchewan, which also experienced significantly above average moisture conditions showed that as nitrogen placement moved away from the seed row, yield steadily improved.
All trials included 14 lb of actual sulfur with N in the side-band, and 20 lb of phosphate with the seed. The Odessa canola results indicate that a MRB seeding system would be beneficial to maximize yield with nitrogen rates of 100 lb/acre or greater. Similar results have been observed in 70 lb/acre trials as well.
The negative effects of nitrogen fertilizer toxicity and subsequent damage on an emerging crop being amplified by excessive heat & drought are fairly well documented and understood. In cool, wet conditions, the blame for poor crop development is often hung squarely on the shoulders of Mother Nature alone. However, 2010 revealed that even in wet conditions, fertilizer placement plays a significant impact on crop development and ultimately yield. Mark Keating, who farms near Russell MB, observed this firsthand. Mark split the seeding duty for his 2010 canola crop between a Bourgault 5710 equipped with side-banders and a Bourgault 5810 equipped with Mid Row Banders. Both were set up to deliver the same rate of anhydrous ammonia as the nitrogen source. As in many areas, the Russell area experienced significantly higher than average rainfall throughout the growing season. As the season progressed, the crops seeded with the side-band openers produced plants of smaller stature, while the mid row banded side produced faster growing, more vigorous and healthy looking plants.
Mother Nature will continue to throw stressors our way, but by managing your fertility program with Mid Row Banders you can minimize the cumulative effect of stress under dry or wet condition to produce the highest possible yield in all growing conditions.
This article appears in the Spring 2011 edition of the Bourgault Cutting Edge.