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3 fertility strategies for 2022

It may be better to be reactive than proactive this year.

Farmers who have not yet done so are encouraged to take soil tests to determine how much fertilizer should be applied to fields for the 2022 crop year.

“Proper management and the utilization of soil resources are crucial to support and sustain the agricultural resources,” says Justin Calhoun, with the University of Missouri’s Department of Plan Sciences. In a report distributed March 4, Calhoun notes three fertility management considerations for 2022.

1. Soil testing is necessary.

Soil testing provides location-specific and accurate information for determining soil characteristics. Our summary data indicates that soil pH and nutrient distribution are variable depending on geographical environment. Because Missouri contains an extremely diverse range of soil environments, fertility management strategies must account for variability within those environments and are not universal on a state-wide level.

2. Reactionary may be better than precautionary.

Unfortunately, fertility management often consists of applying fertilizers or amendments to large areas as a precautionary measure without consideration of what residual characteristics already exist within the soil. During seasons of high fertilizer cost, this strategy tends to be rather ineffective economically. Therefore, utilizing soil testing and basing fertility management on those results are extremely important.

3. Consider realistic yield goals to determine fertilizer rate.

Producers often assume perfect conditions and highest yield potential when seeking fertilizer rate recommendations. Unfortunately, conditions are rarely perfect for crops to reach their complete yield potential. As a result, fertilizers are often overapplied and not efficiently utilized. Our statewide summary of soil fertility in combination with regional yield results may be effective at refining realistic yield goals and soil fertility rates and recommendations.

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