Conquering The Fertility Challenge

Crop scouting, onfarm research and GIS-based data analysis could help no-tillers meet world grain demand and increase their farm’s profitability, Harold Reetz says.

In the last last 40 years, growers have learned how to boost crop production while mining nutrients from the soil and reducing fertilizer application rates.

But fertility expert Harold Reetz says no-tillers must take their fertility programs another step to meet future world demand for grain and keep their farming operations competitive.

The owner of Reetz Agronomics in Monticello, Ill., says no-tillers can get higher yields if they adopt a field-by-field approach to nutrient application.

“The highest yield you will see is when you’ve got the seed in the bag,” Reetz told attendees at the 19th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, last January. “As soon as you remove the seed and put it in the field, everything that happens after that reduces your yield potential.”

Seeing Is Believing

 While flying to a corn grower’s meeting many years ago, a woman from western Minnesota shared a statement with Reetz that her father, a farmer, often uttered:

“There’s no better fertilizer than a farmer’s footsteps,” she told Reetz.

Reetz says no-tillers should make crop scouting a higher priority so they can identify how diseases, pests and nutrient deficiencies are holding their crops back.

This was a major focus for Saybrook, Ill., grower Herman Warsaw, who pulled in a world-record yield of 338 bushels of corn per acre in 1975. Reetz describes Warsaw as “a student of corn” who accumulated massive amounts of knowledge about corn growth and production while scouting.

“He spent every day out in the field, looking at…

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John dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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