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Fluid Journal : Spring 2014
8 The Fluid Journal Spring 2014 to flow variations as a result of temperature changes, hose configurations, hose barb condition, or orientation of application equipment. Another often overlooked aspect in achieving the ‘right’ rate is the concept of achieving continuous crop nutrient bands in preplant and starter band applications. The probability of roots contacting a band and proliferating in the band will be higher if the fertilizer is deposited in a continuous, unbroken nutrient band as opposed to intermittent bands resulting from dry fertilizer granules. Again, while the overall rate per acre in a band might be correct, the distribution within the band is also important. Calibration is also an important component in achieving the ‘right’ application rates. For fluids, calibration is a relatively simple process that involves orifice size, pressure, and density. Calibrating dry equipment is much more difficult since particle size and density vary. Identifying proper application overlap is often more difficult. Application equipment typically involves many parts that affect application uniformity and rate. Ammonia applicators are much more difficult to properly – and safely – calibrate. • Sidedress, topdress, and split applications • Drip, sprinkler, and flood irrigation • The only option for in-season foliar application. • Sensor based and variable rate based applications. Additionally, fluid fertilizers are adaptable to any and all crop production systems and are uniquely suited to refining planned crop nutrition programs in-season in order to respond to changing soil/environmental conditions. They also are adaptable to simultaneous product applications, tillage/ nutrient application equipment, and precision operations and applications. • Respond to in-season management in response to changing environment • Easily adjust to changing crop conditions. • Various tillage and planting equipment • Irrigation/fertigation systems – drip, pivot, flood • Simultaneous crop nutrients and micronutrients • Tank mixes with many pesticides • Adaptable to fertilizer additives • Many other adaptations right time, and 4) in the right place. It is apparent that fluids are uniquely suited to being the “Right Source.” Fluid fertilizers, in conjunction with the previously discussed benefits associated them, have a long documented research history of providing high nutrient use efficiency (NUE), high yields, and improved environmental stewardship. Fertilizer placement, fertilizer application method, fertilizer application timing, and fertilizer rate all may have large effects on overall crop agronomics, NUE, and crop yields – and all are advantages associated with fluids. Right Rate “.... we suggest that plant roots may follow a continuous band with only one root contact. However, with discontinuous bands, where fertilizer is placed in droplets or as dry particles too far apart to interact with each other, a new root contact may be needed for each droplet or particle.” Drs. B. Eghball and D. H . Sander Fluid Journal, Winter 2001 #3 ..... Flexibility To many people, flexibility is the first thing that comes to mind when discussing the advantages of fluid fertilizers. Why? Because fluid fertilizers have unparalleled versatility and adaptability as compared to other fertilizers. Fluids are versatile and fit all crop nutrient placements, application methods, and nutrient timings – a characteristic not shared with any other class of fertilizer products: • Preplant, planting time, and post-plant applications • Broadcast applications – either incorporated or unincorporated • Subsurface, surface, dribble, and starter bands Flexibility “Foliar fertilization is a viable means of applying certain fertilizers that can supplement traditional soil methods. It can be used to improve the efficiency of a nutrient urgently required by the plant to produce maximum growth, yield, and fiber quality. In this way, foliar fertilization supplements soil applications for a more efficient supply of nutrients to the developing cotton plant for optimum yields and fiber quality. In general, foliar applications should be made early morning or late evening for maximum efficiency, and no foliar applications should be made to water–stressed plants.” Dr. Derrick Oosterhuis Fluid Journal, Late Spring 2009 #2 ..... Agronomics In recent years the ‘4R Nutrient Stewardship’ concept has been increasingly adopted as a way of communicating Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to the public, agribusiness, and farmers. Initially developed by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the fertilizer industry, the 4R’s refer to: 1) the right source, 2) at the right rate, 3) at the Agronomics “Using an intermediate degree of mixing, accomplished via strip treatments, has proven the more efficient placement. Fertilizer reaches a greater proportion of the root system and is not tied up as much by the soil as occurs with broadcast applications. The use of strip treatments, versus the extremes of banding and broadcasting, is definitely worth considering in the pursuit of getting greater yield responses from applied fluids.” Dr. Stan Barber Fluid Journal, Winter 1997 #1 ..... Value The number-one top benefit of fluid fertilizers is high value – the overall benefit relative to costs. And the totality of the benefits associated with fluid fertilizers far outstrips any difference in the purchase price of specific crop nutrients. • Logistical advantages of fluid fertilizers provide for unequalled handling convenience/efficiency and timeliness of crop production practices • Accurate, uniform, and precise applications provide for optimum crop nutrient distribution within a field, portion of a field, and fertilizer band • Unparalleled flexibility, versatility, and adaptability allow fluids to fit all crop production systems, all application methods, and any application timing • Unsurpassed agronomic efficiency provides for superior agronomics, environmental stewardship, and profitability. High value provides for prosperity – low cost does not! Dr. Dale Leikam is President of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation in Manhattan, Kansas.