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First-Year Farmer Asking Fertilizer Questions

These days, more students are jumping straight from the college campus into an entirely different, more dynamic classroom setting – the field. While some are going back to the family farm to take over previous practices, others are moving into the farming world with many more decisions to make. 

Zachary Green is taking on his first year of farming right out of school, and he’s asking for guidance from Farmers for the Future members.

“I’m no-tilling my beans into 15-inch rows, and I’d like to get some tips on getting good yields for my first year of farming after school,” says the Star City, Indiana, farmer. “What are some good ways to fertilize? Should I broadcast my fertilizer, or is there a better way?”

Michigan non-GMO variety farmer Scott Dudek offers advice. “Fertilizer on 15-inch rows is, in my opinion, best broadcasted. Just remember, P and K move very slowly through soil. In a true no-till, it’s difficult to get these down in the soil profile,” he says.

Farmers for the Future Ohio farmer K2 gives numerous suggestions, including soil testing (because beans don’t take well to acidic soils) and being generous with potash. 

As a result of the advice he received, Green says, “I got soil-tested, and I’m putting on 150 pounds of potash per acre and 7 pounds of boron, since it came out that I was low on those categories.” 

The lowdown on burndown

Is burndown a couple weeks before planting as well as going out postemerge to spray for weeds a good decision?” asks Green. “I was thinking about 2,4-D, Cornerstone, and Prefix for burndown. For the second pass, I was thinking Cornerstone, Alliance AMS, and Interlock mixed in. I’m seeking some input on how I’m looking at things and to see if I’m on the right track,” he says.

“I’ve been no-tilling beans for years with great success. I had 65+ bushels last year,” shares Joel Barickman. “Absolutely get a residual down with your burndown. I’d recommend Prowl, Roundup, and 2,4-D. Don’t wait too long to spray your post Roundup; marestail and waterhemp can get away from you if they get more than 6 inches tall. I’ve been spraying fungicide and insecticide late in the season, but I haven’t messed with any micronutrients yet. I’ve heard varying stories of their success,” Barickman says.

“Get it burned down with a residual in the mix,” says K2. “Clean up with a Roundup over the top and add micros as foliar feed as recommended.”

In Dudek’s experience, 2,4-D might not be the best choice. He warns, “Be careful on 2,4-D prior to beans. It can be harsh on germination rates.”  

However, in different circumstances, Barickman hasn’t seen any problems with 2,4-D. “I’ve been putting on 2,4-D with my burndown before beans for years with no problem. I actually sprayed it in the fall this year to try to kill the winter weeds like dandelion, marestail. I will follow up with Optill and Roundup this spring for the burndown with residual.”

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