By Steve Sexton & Brian Cornelious, PhD, Agricen
One of the pillars of the 4R approach to plant nutrition is applying fertilizer in the “Right Place.” This concept has opened the door for researchers and producers alike to examine practices that place small quantities of nutrients in a concentrated zone close to the point of seed placement. The use of starter fertilizer, which is one of the practices aimed at getting plant nutrients in the “right place,” is just recently becoming a common practice in some parts of the country. This blog looks at starter fertilizer programs for corn from a nutrient efficiency perspective.
Which starter fertilizer programs are the most efficient and have the most impact on corn yields? Is it total nutrition (N-P-K) or the type and form of nutrition that carries the most weight?
A standard starter program in the U.S. Corn Belt is 5 gallons of ammonium polyphosphate (APP; 10-34-0) plus 1 quart of zinc. 10-34-0 is a common polyphosphate fertilizer that must be converted into a plant-available form, called orthophosphate, prior to plant uptake and utilization. In fact, most starter fertilizers are primarily composed of the polyphosphate form of phosphorus.