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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 1996-1998
1 Fluid Journal Summer 1997 Summary: In our studies, high rates of fluid fertilizer were placed near to wheat seed, using a one-pass seed and fertilizer application in zero- and conventional-till systems, with minimal effect on crop emergence and grain yield. The system worked best on clay soils with high moisture-holding capacity, and in years when rainfall and soil moisture were not limiting crop growth. Most consistent response was to N, although responses were observed to phosphate on clay soil, and to phosphate, potassium, and sulfur on sandy loam. The presence of high concentrations of fertilizer near the seed reduced crop emergence, particularly for canola, and on sandy loam soil. Reduction was greatest in 1995 when spring seeding weather was hot and dry. In 1996, when spring weather was cool and wet, crop emergence was less affected. The system carries greater risk for canola because this crop is more sensitive than wheat to large quantities of fertilizer near the seed row Reduction in crop emergence did not produce a proportional reduction in crop yield; in fact, yield per individual plant was higher at low than at high crop density. Wheat and canola, under study in this report, are important crops to the economy of Western Canada. They occupy the greatest acreage and have the potential of producing an excellent return on investment. The crops are produced on either zero- or reduced-till systems. Seeding and fertilization are significant parts of production costs. In zero-till, producers seek to optimize fertilizer-use efficiency while reducing soil disturbance to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth. N fertilizer generally is either surface broadcast (an Drs. L.D. Bailey and C.A. Grant High Fertilizer Rates Placed Near Seed Benefit Wheat/Canola Studies, using fluids on zero- and conventional-till, show greater risk with canola than wheat. inefficient method of fertilization that produces N losses via volatilization) or banded at seeding. Phosphate is banded with the seed or in the N band. The use of fluid fertilizers is rapidly becoming an accepted practice on the prairies because they provide: • ease of mixing • ease of incorporating additives and securing homogeneity of mixture • convenience of mechanical handling • ease of blending desired amounts of nutrients • reliability of fluid application systems. Wheat and canola require large amounts of N and P for optimum yield. For wheat, the current recommendation is to drill all P fertilizer directly with the seed and preplant band N fertilizer. For canola, no more than 22.4 lbs/A of P2O5 should be placed with the seed. Higher levels should be banded away from seed. N should banded away from the seed for better seedling emergence. Under a strict zero-till system, preplant banding is not possible. Thus, N is surface broadcast or side-banded at time of seeding, and P is placed in the seed row or with the N band. These operations may involve a minimum of two passes. Because the banding of N at seeding on zero-till soils has not been evaluated, producers tend to use relatively low rates of N. Minimum-till requires one pass to band N and a second to place seed and P It is less efficient in conserving soil moisture than zero-till. A single pass fertilization and seeding system, with low soil disturbance under zero-till, has the potential to improve fertilizer and moisture-use efficiency, and reduce cost of production while maintaining and/or improving crop yield and quality. The system has the potential for reducing labor cost, machinery use, and fuel consumption. Reduced soil disturbance will reduce soil erosion, nutrient loss, and conserve moisture. This study evaluated technology to place N, P, K, and S fluids close to the seed (I-inch to side, one-inch below) with a fluid fertilizer zero-till seeder (Seedhawk) Under minimum soil disturbance in zero- and conventional- till. Objective was to enhance moisture and nutrient availability to wheat and canola. Crop emergence, nutrient-use efficiency, seed and straw yield, and seed quality were monitored. Crop response Clay loam soil. Banding N and P close to the seed at planting increased wheat and canola seed yield under both tillage systems (Figure 1). For equivalent rates of fertilizer, the highest yields of wheat were in conventional- till, while for canola they were on zero- till. It is probable that canola, having a higher water requirement than wheat, obtained more water from the zero-till than from the conventional-till system. For wheat, the conventional-till system promoted earlier emergence and better stooling because of warmer soil. Wheat responded to all levels of N and P Canola response to N was good but response to P was marginal and was probably masked by reduced emergence caused by high rates of N. In general, at high rates of fertilizer application crop yield may have been depressed by reduced plant emergence. Sandy loam soil. In general, wheat yields on conventional-till were greater or equivalent to those on zero-till (Figure 2)---in spite of the fact that
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