Getting sloppy with fertilizer applications could cost you even more this fall. So take time to calibrate that spinner spreader, and make sure whoever is driving understands how to apply. Prices are too high and supplies are too short to do anything else.
Not only are prices for phosphate and potash higher than in past years, they're higher than in the spring. N prices are also up compared to May prices. Terry Bechman, manager of The Andersons at Waterloo, Ind., hasn't seen that happen ever before. That's saying a mouthful for someone with three decades of experience in the retail fertilizer business.
Besides, supplies of some products, particularly 0-46-0 and potash, may be tight. Other sources of phosphorus, however, 18-46-0 and 11-52-0, should be in adequate supply.
Here's five steps that will help you adjust to expensive, tight supplies, and get the most from potash applied this fall. Jeff Phillips, Tippecanoe County extension ag educator and soil fertility specialist, provided these tips.
- Grid sample each field- If you don't have current soil tests, now is the time. Grid sampling will help identify which areas need potassium most.
- Apply fertilizer where needed- Variable-rate application could put K where it will do the most good. Allocate tight, high-priced potash supplies to areas with the most payback potential.
- Back off K rates- If you normally apply build-up amounts, back down to maintenance rates.
- Don't neglect deficient spots- Some soils are deficient in K. Make sure you apply potash there.
- Select crops that respond most- Apply potash on alfalfa first. Common wisdom would say soybeans, a heavy K feeder, would respond next. However, it's not clear if that relationship holds.