By Steve Roehl, Sr. Technical Sales Agronomist, Nutrien Ag Solutions
At harvest, impressive corn yields also leave behind an impressive amount of leaf, stalk and root mass material in the form of stover or residue. While some may call this "corn trash", the sage farmer and agronomist knows that residue is actually a treasure rich in essential crop nutrients, including nitrogen (N), potassium (in the form of K2O), phosphorus (in the form of P2O5), and sulfur (S).
Crop residue also poses some challenges. Fields with heavy residue levels can be slower to warm in the spring and can pose issues related to planting (e.g., stalks and root balls can hamper planter disc openers and depth-gauge wheels) and crop establishment. In addition, heavy amounts of crop residue can hinder the ability of soil microbes to release nutrients from the residue. This is especially true for nitrogen and sulfur, which are effectively "tied up" (immobilized) by soil microbes that use them as a food source to break down residue. These immobilized nutrients only become available to the crop once the microbes finish digesting the residue and release (mineralize) the nutrients to the soil.
For these reasons, some forethought about residue and nutrient management this fall can pay dividends to your 2023 crop. For years, Nutrien Ag Solutions customers have utilized a fall or spring application of Extract PBA to maximize nutrient release from crop residues and the soil, extend the availability of nutrients later into the season, and optimize yield potential. This biochemical-based technology is an effective way to release bound nutrients while also making seedbed preparation and planting processes more effective in the spring.