Good to the last drop
For Dan Muff, applying the right product in the right place at the right time in the right amount for the plant comes down to basic science. If you paid attention in science class, you know photosynthesis is where the plant takes carbon dioxide, water, and the sun's energy and makes carbohydrates that are then used to help it grow.
It's that understanding of the plant that led the Garner, Iowa, farmer to develop Y Drop – a nutrient placement system.
“This management tool is all about placing nutrients in the right place so the plant, via diffusion and mass flow, can absorb nutrients through photosynthesis to grow and produce a very efficient crop,” Muff explains. “By placing fertilizers or insecticides near the root zone, you can agronomically create efficiency or boost the chances for higher yields.”
The system consists of a bar that fastens to the boom of almost any brand of pull-type or self-propelled sprayer. Steel risers followed by rubber hoses drop down and connect to a poly base producing a Y at the bottom of each unit. The poly base separates the Y into orificed drag hoses – one along each side of the plant row. The hoses apply product within 2 to 3 inches of the row crop at speeds up to 14 mph.
“Product flows through rubber hoses and stainless steel fittings and is orificed close to the outlet of the Y Drop on the soil surface producing even flow of whatever product you're putting on the field,” notes Muff.
Y Drop's flexibility in the field allows it to easily move around obstacles or tangled crops, which reduces the risk of damage to the sprayer.
Applying product on one side of a crop row isn't supported for agronomic reasons, notes Muff. Instead, applying product to each side of a plant row in the wet zone has huge agronomic value.
“In a normal or wet season, placing nutrients strategically 2 to 3 inches from the plant based on the nutrients capacity to move through the soil profile adds a profit opportunity,” he says.
“Without rain there's no guarantee fertilizer will get to the plant, much less that it'll get into the plant at the right time,” he continues. “Nutrients like nitrogen move to the plant by a process called mass flow. It takes water to move nitrogen to the plant. In a dry season, like 2012, Y Drop can place a nutrient along a crop row close to the area where roots are. Minor rain events can move selective nutrients into the root zone for plant use.”
Initial research by the company demonstrated, through soil nitrogen testing, that stabilized nitrogen applied with Y Drop followed by a minor rain event was still 95% available to corn plants three weeks after initial application.
“The Y Drop management tool can be used in most row crops, including soybeans,” he says, “at any time from V5 to R1 in corn and from V3 to R3 in soybeans.”
Y Drop LLC 641/829-3358 | agalternatives.com
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