10 Steps to Ensure a High Quality Crop
1. Producing a high-quality crop requires a strong fertility plan. As harvest nears, using an NDVI map to know where and when to harvest is a new tool used in today’s agriculture. Even before harvest is complete, a crop plan for the next year is already in place. Soil sampling is key to uncovering the required nutrients for the future crop plan. There are so many new tools in agronomy today, but soil sampling is a valuable tool—one that remains unchanged—to create a complete crop plan.
2. A complete fertility plan is like making a great-tasting cake. You need to start with a detailed recipe, with a list of ingredients, at the right rate, and time and combined correctly. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship provides a detailed recipe for the best management practices when applying fertilizer to grow a specified crop. The right source, rate, time and place are the 4 pillars that make up this best management recipe.
3. The soil test lists all the soil nutrient ingredients that are available to the plant in the upcoming growing season. The solution now is to interpret the soil test to determine what nutrients are available to the plant and the total nutrients required to grow a specific crop. Above is an example of calculating nitrogen in the soil and what amount of Nitrogen needs to be added to achieve a target yield.
4. The variability of nutrients in different parts of the field can be quite large, so geo-referencing the soil points are key to consistency year over year. Whether the soil sampling is done in zones or taken as a composite sample, having the cores geo-referenced will ensure your soil will be pulled from the same part of the field year after year.
5. Soil test data compiled over the years, not only shows nutrient trends in the soil over time but can also be used to place economic resources correctly. For example, building Phosphate and Potassium in years of low unit costs or applying only crop removal P and K in years of high unit costs.
6. Part of a comprehensive fertility plan is having an effective crop rotation that will reduce yield drag and maximize commodity pricing versus comparable commodities on the farm.
7. Knowing your land capability is critical when trying to establish realistic yield goals and nutrient draw from the soil.
8. One solution to reduce nitrogen loss during fertilizer application is enhanced efficiency nitrogen fertilizer products. These products are flexible and fit just about any application and management plan when applying Nitrogen.
9. One of the final steps in having a nutrient management plan is documenting all nutrient inventory levels per field so adjustments can be made when the crop rotation has to be altered before planting.
10. With all the data recorded and a nutrient plan created, the last step can be to update the crop budget at the field and crop level. As marketing opportunities come available, this crop budget can be a fluid document to help predict the economic health of the farm.
For more information please contact your local Richardson Pioneer Ag Business Centre.