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Fluid Journal : Fluid Journal 1999-2001
2 Fluid Journal Winter 2000 take a good look at MSP at work. Let's suppose a corn grower is now producing 180 bu/A. Total residue left above ground after harvest is 4.3 tons/A of stalks, leaves, and husks. Adding 2.2 more tons/A of roots brings the total to 6.5 tons/A. Following tillage, he should have left 1.9 tons on the surface for erosion control. Net residue to work into soil is 4.6 tons/A (Table 1). Following Table 1, the grower would apply 460 lbs/A of liquid 22-7- 0-3 (101 lbs/A of N. 32 lbs/A of P2O5 and 14 lbs/A of S). These nutrients will adjust carbon/nitrogen, carbon/ phosphorus, and carbon/sulfur ratios needed to promote conversion of residue to organic matter. It is also necessary that the grower apply his normal fertilizer program to replace nutrients removed and to satisfy the soil test requirements mentioned earlier. The fertilized residue is then incorporated with a tool similar to a twist shank chisel. The trick is to leave enough residue on the surface yet incorporate the balance into the soil. Patience by the grower is a virtue. During the first few years the chisel may go only 6 to 8 inches into the soil. As years pass, the chisel should reach 15 to 18 inches. Biological conversion occurring initially in the 3- to 4-inch zone should eventually move into the deeper soil profile. In 8 to 10 years, a deep fertile soil should be forming that holds more water and nutrients and is Table 2. Amount of nutrients removed by harvested corn (grain only). Yield, bu/A N, lb/A P2O5, lbs/A Sulfur, lbs/A Zinc,lbs/A 140 137 56 14 1.4 180 176 72 18 1.8 220 216 88 22 2.2 260 255 104 26 2.6 300 294 120 30 3.0 67-68 69-70 71-72 73-74 75-76 77-78 79-80 81-82 87 300 • 200 • 100 • 160 200 270 350 400 380 400 350 400 190 250 225 285 275 275 295 370 Nitrogen Applied vs Nitrogen Removed by Harvested Grain (Warsaw Field) lbs N Total N Applied lbs/A Nitrogen Removed in Grain (lbs/A) ideal for root proliferation. As yields increase, plant population can be increased, resulting in higher yields. The bottom line reduces to simple mathematics. If farming at 6 inches deep produces 25,000 half-pound ears for a 180 bu/A crop, why not farm at 15 inches deep and produce 42,000 half- pound ears for a 300 bu/A crop? Figure 2 is an actual example of how MSP works. The Herman Warsaw field increased yields from 160 bu/A to a high of 370 bu/A over a period of about 22 years (a bushel of corn contains a pound of nitrogen). The extra nitrogen applied adjusted the carbon/nitrogen ratio (24/1), favorable for the production of organic matter (Table 3). For example, in 1973- 74 an estimated 6,000 lbs of organic matter (.3% in the 0 to 6-inch zone) improved soil quality, making possible yields of up to 370 bu/A. The question is often asked, "What does it cost to rebuild my soil?" As the program proceeds, our estimates suggest that extra yields will, to a large extent, pay for this extra fertilizer applied to digest residue. What's ahead? The FFF is applying research to MSP projects to further document and verify the benefits of MSP. Research will be taking place in different geographical areas with different crops. Readers of the FJ will receive updates. In addition, merchandising packets on MSP containing a 22-minute VCR video, a CD ROM with backup research and tables, and a supply of bulletins and literature are available now from the FFF office in Manhattan. These aids can be used to introduce the MSP program to growers (see ad in this issue). Table 3. Herman Warsaw MSP program (1973-1974) Yield 225 bu/A Extra N applied 175 lbs/A Residue 16,000 lbs (7,200 lbs Carbon) N in residue 143 lbs/A C/N ratio 24 Estimated Organic matter produced 6,000 lbs (.3% in 0 to 6") Figure 2. N applied vs. N removed by harvested grain (Warsaw field).
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