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Fluid Journal : Spring 2014
7 The Fluid Journal Spring 2014 Why Fluids? The benefits have everything to do with improved crop yields, crop quality, environmental stewardship, and profitability — that’s why. The Fluid Journal • Official Journal of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation • Spring 2014 • Vol. 22, No. 2, Issue #84 Top 10 lists are ever popular in our culture today – so what are the top 10 advantages of fluid fertilizers? Ask a handful of farmers and dealers and you likely will come up with a handful of different answers. There are so many, and the advantages so varied, that it is not possible to come up with a single top 10 list that everyone can agree to! Some advantages benefit everyone. For others their appeal depends on the specific situation involved. Typical benefits noted include things such as: a wide variety of fertilizer placements, homogeneous blends, best adapted for split applications, high nutrient use efficiency, handling conveniences, provides environmental benefits, required for fertigation, best suited for variable rate application, and many other benefits that give fluids a distinct economic appeal. While it is not possible to name the definitive top 10 benefits of fluids that apply in all situations, my top five benefits of fluid fertilizers should broadly fit most everyone. A more in-depth discussion of each of these benefits will be presented in future issues of the Fluid Journal. Top Five Since each of these benefits tends to overlap and interact with each other, we need to start with number five and build our way up to the number one benefit. #5 ..... Logistics Logistics is the organization, distribution, handling, and application of crop nutrients in an efficient, cost effective manner. There is no doubt that fluid fertilizers excel in providing efficient logistics, which allows for the necessary timeliness of crop production practices required for efficient crop production. At the top of the list of logistical advantages is the overall handling convenience associated with fluid fertilizers. In fact, handling convenience is one of the most often cited advantages of fluid fertilizers. This is evidenced by the fact that university researchers and farmers find it much easier, more accurate, and much more cost effective to adapt equipment for a wide variety of application methods by using fluid fertilizers as compared to dry. Simply put, it is much easier to pump fluid fertilizers to nursing and application equipment than it is to auger or belt transfer dry materials. It is also safer to transfer and apply fluids than it is anhydrous ammonia. It is also less expensive to maintain/replace necessary hoses, provide adequate safety equipment, and to provide for adequate insurance. #4 ..... Right Rate There are several aspects involved in applying the ‘right’ rate. Most commonly, the right rate refers to applying desired crop nutrient rates on a whole field (or portion of a field) basis. But average application rates within a field are only one aspect of the ‘right’ rate. Application uniformity across the application swath and across the field (or portion of field) is equally important. Fluid fertilizers are homogeneous, with each drop having the same composition as the next drop. On the other hand, once blended, solid fertilizers immediately begin the process of unblending and becoming increasingly non-uniform during each step of the application process. Coning segregation occurs as blended materials are dropped from augers or belts - forming a conical pile in storage and nursing/ application equipment. Segregation occurs as larger particles tend to roll to the outside edge of the pile while smaller particles and fines accumulate in the center. Physical differences among various products in the blend often result in wide differences in nutrient contents throughout the pile. Next, vibrational segregation occurs as the tendering equipment travels to the field, and additionally as the applicator travels across the field. Finally, ballistic segregation occurs during many applications since larger particles weigh more and travel farther than smaller particles. Doubling particle size increases weight by 8 times! As a result, dry fertilizers are much more subject to non-uniform application across the swath width and within a field or portion of the field than fluid fertilizers. Likewise, in comparison to most ammonia applications, fluid fertilizers are not subject Dale Leikam Summary: The modern fluid fertilizer industry, and the advantages/benefits associated with fluids, date back to the early 1950’s. Over the years vast numbers of fluid dealers (many now spread well beyond U.S . borders) have indeed proven the value of this product in improving crop yield, quality, value, performance, and profitability. Additionally, the versatility and adaptability of fluids have resulted in an ever-increasing appeal in today’s farm market. ▼ DOWNLOAD