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Fluid Journal : Fall 2011
3 The Fluid Journal Fall 2011 FROM THE PUBLISHERS Why fluids? Many of us have often been asked, “Why fluids?” In answering that question, the advantages of fluid placement, nutrient use efficiency (NUE), and overall crop profitability are often noted. Over the past decade, environmental protection and sustainability have also been used when describing the advantages of fluid fertilizers. Over the past several years another term has come to the forefront in regard to environmental protection and sustainability: 4R Stewardship. At the mention of this, fluid fertilizers should immediately come to mind. This concept, initially developed by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), is increasingly being adopted by agriculture as a way of promoting and communicating fertility-related best management practices (BMP) to the public, agribusiness, and farmers. While the promotion of fertility BMPs is certainly not new, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship concept provides a clear, concise, and simple approach to increasing the adoption of BMPs in agriculture by applying the appropriate rate of crop nutrients in an efficient manner, at the right time, using crop nutrient products that are right for a specific situation. The 4Rs What do the 4Rs have to do with fluid fertilizer? Everything! Fluids are uniquely suited for fertility programs based on the 4Rs: Right rate. Determining the right rate of applied nutrients to meet specific crop needs is challenging and varies among needed crop nutrients. While a good soil test history and accurate crop records are needed for estimating the rate of nutrients required for a specific situation, there are other factors to consider. For example, research continues in developing nitrogen (N) fertilization systems that depend on various crop canopy sensors to estimate the right rate of in-season N required for fields and portions of fields. Fluid N products, such as UAN solution, are the obvious choice for this system. Right time. There has been much emphasis placed on supplying needed nutrients, especially N, immediately prior to when the crop requires them. By minimizing the amount of time between nutrient application and crop nutrient uptake, the susceptibility of applied nutrients to off-field movement or losses to the environment is minimized. Fluid fertilizers excel in their adaptability to sidedress, topdress, and split/multiple applications via application equipment and various irrigation/fertigation systems. Right place. Mention fertilizer placement and most people think of fluid fertilizers (e.g., preplant subsurface banding, sidedress subsurface banding, surface banding, surface dribble application, in-furrow application, starter application, foliar application, fertigation, drip irrigation, and broadcast application). Fluid fertilizers are easily adapted to all of these application methods, while other forms of fertilizer generally are not. Visit with researchers who study various crop nutrient application methods. Most likely, fluids are used for all the comparisons due to the ease and cost of adapting equipment to various placements. In addition to versatility of fluids in developing efficient fertility programs, fluid products are homogeneous and provide the correct mix of nutrients in every drop. Segregation is not an issue. Likewise, fluid fertilizers provide for greater precision and accuracy in application rates than other forms of crop nutrients. Right source. The versatility of fluid fertilizers offers growers the certainty that the BMPs embedded in the 4R concept will produce nothing less than stewardship, productivity, and profitability. The Right Rate, Right Time, and Right Place for required crop nutrients all point to fluid fertilizers being the Right Source. So...when someone asks, “Why fluids?” the answer should be simple: Versatility. Flexibility. Efficiency. Placement. And the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship! Dr. Dale Leikam President, Fluid Fertilizer Foundation Technology Workshop To enroll, call 785-776-0273 or email email@example.com Sponsored by Fluid Fertilizer Foundation The 2011 Fluid Technology Workshop to be held December 6-7 at the Piccadilly Inn Airport, 5115 E. McKinley, Fresno, CA 93727. The Workshop provides an educational and networking opportunity for both experienced and less experienced personnel. Note that plant operations, agronomics and fluid fertilizer fundamentals are covered during the sessions.