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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 1996-1998
1 Fluid Journal Fall 1998 Editor's note: This is the third in a series dealing with soil quality improvement for higher yields and profits. Root zone banding (RZB) is nothing new. RZB is accomplished by injecting a complete liquid fertilizer with knifing implements or fertilizer attachments on chisel plows, field cultivators, or other tillage equipment. It is the only way subsurface nutrients can be built without plowing. Deep bands of fertilizer via RZB develop deep soil tilth and speed up maximum soil productivity (MSP). Achieving MSP is a long-term program. Soil quality is improved by accelerating the production of soil organic matter, balancing soil fertility, and eventually incorporating this organic matter and fertility deep into the soil profile. On-farm history shows this is working. Previous issues of the FJ have shown farmers who have more than doubled yields above 300 bu/A. Deep soil high in organic matter stored more water. Additional residue from larger yields controlled erosion and made MSP environmentally friendly. Farmers successful with MSP will also tell you the process requires patience. Developing the deep fertile soils that produced the 300-bu/A yields reported in Iowa and Illinois took anywhere from 8 to 20 years. Modern soil conservation tillage does little to incorporate the rather immobile elements such as phosphorus, potassium, and zinc into the deeper soil profile. Notice in Table 1 that even after eight years the phosphorus was not uniformly incorporated and could become positionally unavailable, especially under drought conditions. Similar data show that potassium can likewise become positionally FFF Review Root Zone Banding Speeds Up MSP Improved soil tilth improves water-holding capacity and creates a more favorable environment for growing plants. TABLE 1. Phosphorus distribution as influenced by tillage system over eight years. Phosphorus (ppm) Depth Chisel Inches Plow Disk No Tillage 0-2 57 68 69 2-4 52 53 43 4-6 38 25 22 6-9 18 14 17 9-12 9 8 12 Minnesota TABLE 2. Soil test from Warsaw field compared to fence row shows deep distribution of nutrients. Depth High-Yield Farm Fence Row Inches %O.M. P (ppm) %O.M. P (ppm) 0-3 6.6 132 5.8 25 3-12 5.4 70 4.2 9 12-24 3.9 26 2.5 8 FIGURE 1. Water requirement of corn vs. precipitation (rain and snow). 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 OCT DEC FEB APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP NOV JAN MAR Winter Months (6.5) Spring (4.7) Growing Season (15) TOTAL (26.2) 2.6 1.5 2.4 2.3 3.2 4.3 Deficit 3.1 2.7 2.7
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