Gary Meier, P.Ag. AGRONOMICS - 2010 Plot Summary Perry Weisberg
by Garry Meier, P.Ag. & Perry Weisberg

This article is available from the Spring 2010 Cutting Edge. A PDF copy is available for you to download.
Multi-Year/Multi-Location Study
This year will be the third of Bourgault’s multi-year/multi-location study aimed to confirm existing studies and to improve our knowledge of fertilizer placement relative to the seed in a one-pass seeding environment. This study involves the application of nitrogen, phosphorous and sulfur at various distances from the seed row of different crops, and documents the effects through the season. The goal of the study is to determine benefits and risks involved with fertilizer placement from a producer’s point of view.
In the past two years, over 1500 plots were seeded in Pierre SD, Minot ND, Odessa SK, and St. Brieux SK to gather data representative of crop production in the varying conditions that can be found on the upper Great Plains of North America.
Canola and Hard Red Spring Wheat were selected for the trials, since each crop is grown under different moisture and heat conditions in these regions. Rates of 100 lb and 200 lb nitrogen fertilizer (46-0-0) were placed at different distances from the seed, along with 40 lb of phosphate fertilizer (12-51-0) in either a seed placed or side-banded placement. A rate of 60 lb of Ammonium Sulfate (20-0-0-24) was placed in the nitrogen band for the canola trial.
All plots were monitored and harvested by independent institutions specializing in agronomic assessment.
A Pattern Emerges
With 2 years of data in the books, the results are quite consistent across all of the locations, crops and growing conditions. Under less than ideal conditions, nitrogen fertilizer placement closer than 3" in canola and wheat showed that plant vigour and yield were negatively impacted. Phosphate response was generally the best when the nutrient is seed placed, although negative response was observed from seed placed phosphate when the plant was already suffering from nitrogen encroachment. This further emphasizes the importance of nitrogen placement and the relation between nitrogen and phosphate.
Example from Minot, ND - 2009
A clear example of the adverse effects of fertilizer toxicity is shown below. These photos were taken from the wheat trials conducted at Minot ND in 2009. The results obtained reflected the general results that were documented across both the wheat and canola trials in each of our test sites.
Minot Wheat Trial - June 16th, 2009
 
The photo below shows a plot that was seeded with 100 lb of nitrogen placed 1" below and 1" to the side of the seed.
Minot Wheat Trial - July 31st, 2009
The next two photos below show the same trials as the first two photos from June 16th. Again, the photo below shows a plot that was seeded with 100 lb of nitrogen placed 1" below and 1" to the side of the seed.
Side-banded Wheat
100 lb Nitrogen at 1" side-band, 25 lb Phosphate Seed Placed
Side-banded Wheat
100 lb Nitrogen at 1" side-band, 25 lb Phosphate Seed Placed
The next photo below shows a plot that was seeded with 100 lb of nitrogen placed mid row. Both trials placed phosphate with the seed.
The next photo below shows a plot that was seeded with 100 lb of nitrogen placed mid row. Both trials placed phosphate with the seed.
MRB Seeded Wheat
100 lb Nitrogen in Mid Row Band, 25 lb Phosphate Seed Placed
MRB Seeded Wheat
100 lb Nitrogen in Mid Row Band, 25 lb Phosphate Seed Placed
When you compare the two plots, you see evidence of lower plant counts compared in the side-banded trial to the MRB trial.
When you compare the two plots, you can see that the mid row trial is more even in maturity, and is maturing earlier than the side-banded trial.

Wheat Plant Count, Minot Plot Average - 2009
Wheat Vigour, Minot Plot Average - 2009
Plant Count Chart
 
Wheat Vigour Chart
 
Plant Counts for the 2009 Minot trials were conducted by Jeremy Pederson of the North Dakota State University. Phosphate was seed-placed in all but the first average shown. Similar results were found for the 200 lb trials.(MRB is 2x rate between every other seed row)
Wheat Vigour ratings were also documented by Jeremy Pederson. Plant stands with stronger vigor tend to mature earlier than weaker stands under the same conditions. Phosphate was seed-placed in all but the first average shown. Similar results were found for the 200 lb trials. (MRB is 2x rate between every other seed row)

Conclusions from 2009
The study results of the past two seasons clearly tells us that the lethal effects of the nitrogen band start to decline at 2". This brings us to the recommendation of a minimum requirement of 3" of seed to fertilizer separation when you are using 100 lb of nitrogen or higher. As a grower, you should be using Mid Row Banders to guarantee fertilizer separation and minimize any fertilizer injury risk, regardless of the seeding and growing conditions.
Plot Studies 2010
We continually receive questions from growers who use side band openers about safe levels of nitrogen for their seeding systems. For this year we plan to expand the number of plots in 2010 to include 40 lb and 70 lb nitrogen rate trials to determine the risk levels of lower nitrogen rates in a side-band application. We also plan to continue our phosphorous placement work in 2010 on a field scale. Past observations have shown evidence of phosphorous deficiency symptoms when the full rate of phosphate was side-banded with the nitrogen as compared to seed placed phosphate with the same side-band opener. These observations included slower emergence and maturity delays approaching 5 days.

Return to Agronomy Index
Future Agronomy Study
Bourgault is looking forward to the unique set of production challenges in store for the 2010 growing season. We, along with our academic partners will be busy gathering data, compiling results, publishing the information that will help you make informed decisions that will minimize risk in crop production. The research will also continue to be a critical design component to ensure our equipment will meet the agronomic needs of the crops you grow in this highly technical industry we call farming.
Bourgault - Designing Equipment Around Agronomy